Going to Madison for M Football Game This Year - Any Suggestions?

Submitted by Blue_In_Texas on January 22nd, 2019 at 11:48 AM

I am visiting Madison this year for M-Wisconsin game in September. Anyone been? I am going with my gf and some friends. 

Any suggestions on things to do in Madsion, good places to eat, the gameday scene, places to go out, and/or what neighborhood I should get in the Airbnb? 



rob f

January 22nd, 2019 at 12:24 PM ^

Yes, jump around from tailgate to tailgate----their fans have a well-deserved reputation as very friendly and welcoming and will treat you like a guest, offering you most of the following: beer, brats, beerbrats, cheese, cheese brats, cheeseburgers, women (mostly cheesy), fried cheese, cheesecake, Suzy Creamcheese, beer, beer and more importantly, beer.

I went to a game there a couple decades or so ago and had a wonderful, if cheesy, time. 


January 22nd, 2019 at 11:59 AM ^

Get a ticket in the M fan section.  I went to a game there and sat next to the student section with Wisconsin fans.  Although nothing too bad was said or done to me and my lady we both wished we would have sat with other likeminded fans.  Also, don’t plan on tailgating, plan on bar hopping. 


January 22nd, 2019 at 12:01 PM ^

Bassett Street Brunch has killer food, as well as Dane Brewing Company. Stay at the Student Union if you can, plenty to do and right on Campus, walking distance to all things Sconsin. I Live 30 miles away. Get there early and enjoy the street food. Good times, good luck


January 22nd, 2019 at 12:02 PM ^

I've been to our last couple of games up there as I live in Chicago.  No need to take a tailgate setup.  Lots of bars that have outdoor tents set up with plenty of food and beverage withing walking distance of the stadium.  Sometimes the Badger band comes thru as well.  A good time for sure and a bit different than a typical tailgate.


Go Blue!

Honker Burger

January 22nd, 2019 at 12:03 PM ^

Madison is a very cool city. It feels very similar to Ann Arbor with lots of local restaurants, shops, etc. and most people I have talked to who have been to both say similar things. The Madison equivalent of Main Street is State Street. There are all kinds of different ethnic cuisines as well as plentiful Wisconsin food (brats, beer, and cheese curds).

If you're into history, the capitol has a quick 45min free tour offered hourly daily, which I really enjoyed.

Staying anywhere between the capitol and Camp Randall will put you right in the middle of everything. If you want something quieter I would say go outside of that area.

I'll second going to the Union and having a beer on the terrace overlooking Lake Mendota.

Winchester Wolverine

January 22nd, 2019 at 12:04 PM ^

We stayed in the Crowne Plaza which was about 30 minutes from the stadium. Very nice hotel. My wife and I like to avoid the enormous amount of people stuffed into local bars and restaurants, so I can't comment much on the popular, local eateries. 

Advice: get to the game early. Parking is hard to come by. Also, mark where you parked on your phone (common sense, I know, but if you forget you'll end up like my wife and I, searching for our car for an hour in 10 degree weather). Also, check if there's a hockey game going on that day. After the football game we scored some Michigan v Wisconsin tickets for, like, 10 bucks on stubhub.

Even though Peters was knocked out and we lost the game, we still had a great time. Wisconsin fans are some of the nicest people I've been around. The worst taunt I recieved was "see you in the B1G Championship.... NOT!"


January 22nd, 2019 at 12:04 PM ^

Took my daughter in 2017, kind of a birthday present from my mom. The result wasn't great, but we had a great time. One feature you won't be able to replicate: we attended a Michigan-Wisconsin hockey game at the Kohl Center the night before as well. 

We got a motel room off of I-94; not terribly expensive and not difficult to find, but also quite a hike from the stadium. That's fine as long as you plan for it, but there is no quick way to the campus from the interstate.

Madison is really a wonderful city. This early in the season the weather should be great, and there's good opportunities to see and spend time near the lake. Obviously, lots of food options are available near campus, the classic favorite being State Street Brats. 

My own experience isn't very instructive, since I tend to eat on the cheap and my idea of a good time pregame was hanging out in the Rathskeller, the student union basement cafeteria. Not because it's a happening place (it isn't) but because that's where my grandfather used to hang out back when he went to UW on the GI Bill, where he met my grandmother. 

We sat in the upper deck corner in the Michigan section (tickets from stubhub) and enjoyed being around like-minded fans. Be aware that they have a concourse and restrooms up there but the lines are looooong and it's pretty crowded. 

It's a great trip. As long as you don't let your enjoyment of it hinge entirely on the result of the game, you'll have a blast. We sure did. 

A State Fan

January 22nd, 2019 at 12:09 PM ^

Lived there for 5 years, I'll let others comment on things to do, but as for places to eat:

- The Old Fashioned is really good, and one of those mainstays to see when you go to Madison.

- Tipsy Cow - My favorite bar downtown 

- The Great Dane is also a good place to eat downtown

- Nitty Gritty near the Kohl center is another kinda famous place to eat.

- Greenbush bakery is a good place for donuts

- Saturday Farmers market - not sure when the Michigan game is in the season, but I used to get a whole loaf of jalapeno cheese bread from the farmers market and eat it as I did my loop around the capital square. 

Michigan Manders

January 22nd, 2019 at 12:17 PM ^

Live there currently, will second all of this. With the addition that Graze is a great place for dinner with beautiful views of the capitol building and farm to table food ("normal" entrees like their named burger are around $20, so not too too bad). Can be a lengthy wait on the weekends though.

Wandos is a fun bar to visit near campus as well, if you're into gameday crowds.

Michigan Manders

January 22nd, 2019 at 1:14 PM ^

$18 to be specific, but it's farm to table and is ground short rib with brisket on it. They do have a more classic burger that's $12 but that's probably the cheapest entree on the menu - most common ones other than like steaks are in that 18-25 range.


The place is a nice restaurant on the capitol square (and can't stress the view enough - building it's in is entirely glass), what do you expect? You pay for quality.


January 22nd, 2019 at 12:55 PM ^

The Great Dane was pretty good.  Though I went when Ron Dayne was playing so it was confusing for me.

The German place that serves you "boots" of beer was pretty fantastic.  Can't remember the name.

I have a dairy allergy, but the farmer's market on capital square is really cool and you supposedly have to have the fresh cheese curds deep fried or otherwise.

The Old Fashioned is a great example of a Wisconsin supper club.   (unless I'm getting my places confused.)

If it is still warm and/or open, you have to go to the student union where you sit outside and drink and/or listen to a band play.   (The Terrace) Rent a kayak somewhere.

A friend who lives in Madison describes it as Ann Arbor but with two giant lakes and a cool state capitol.  (as opposed to Lansing.)

el segundo

January 22nd, 2019 at 1:15 PM ^

Essen Haus is the place with "boots" of beer. It can be a fun place. I've been there on a few Saturday nights in March. There was always an electric polka band playing and it was very raucous and good natured.

I'm not sure I would call The Old Fashioned a "supper club." It sort of is. But if I really wanted the supper club vibe, I'd go to the Avenue Bar on the east side. In addition, the wait for the Old Fashioned is typically an hour on a non-football Friday or Saturday night.

A State Fan

January 22nd, 2019 at 1:19 PM ^

"the place that serves beer in boots" I think is the Essen Haus on the near east side? I've only been there a couple times, and sadly didn't have beer in a boot though haha.

And yes, Madison and A2 are very similar. I think I prefer Madison, it's a little bigger and the downtown has such a better traffic flow. Though I've never lived in A2, only visited about every other weekend for a couple years. But Madison's State Street is pretty overrated imo


January 22nd, 2019 at 1:11 PM ^

Additional highlights:

- Osteria Papavera; fantastic Italian food. Quick walk from the capital building. A must have every time I’m in Madison.

- Maduro; if you’re into a cigar and a nice scotch/whiskey. Another must stop for me when I’m in Madison.

- Lucille; decent pizza albeit I was hammered when I went

Wisconsin Wolverine

January 22nd, 2019 at 2:37 PM ^

My day has come!  I also lived there for 7 years.  IMO, Tipsy Cow's goat cheese curds are the best in town.  The game is on Sept. 21, so hopefully the weather will still be quite warm.  If so, hang out at the Memorial Union Terrace and have some beers by the lake - it's pretty much the crown jewel of the university.  Walk up and down State Street, have some beers.  Best cocktails (IMO) are at Merchant and Heritage, if you want to drink cocktails.  The Old Fashioned is quintessential Wisconsin.  Try a brandy old-fashioned there.  Also order a pickled egg from the bar.  Here's a secret: the Tornado Club (normally an expensive steakhouse) starts serving up $10 steak sandwiches after 10 pm in their lounge, and they're amazing.  Farmer's market on Saturday morning, lots of tasty samples.  The best new upscale restaurant is Graft on the square (at least it was a year and a half ago when I had to move away), if you want to drop a little more money on a fancy dinner.  The capitol building has an observation deck, would recommend.  Ride a bike around Monona Bay.  Take a walk down Picnic Point, a very unique spot in town (make sure to climb out on the tree in the water at the end!).  Man, I could go on and on.  Drink some beers though, and enjoy.

Big Brown Jug

January 22nd, 2019 at 12:17 PM ^

I attended the Wisconsin/Minnesota game this year in Madison, in full Gopher gear, and it was the most satisfying live football experience of my life. The sea of creaky old Wisconsin fans on the 40-yard line behind the home bench literally did not know what to do with themselves because they had never experienced a loss, much less a blowout to the Gophers before.  

I have no advice beyond win the game and troll hard when you do, Badger fans have gotten really spoiled by decades of Big 10 West opponents and marshmallow-soft non-con schedules.  


January 22nd, 2019 at 12:27 PM ^

I've been twice - once in 1980 when I was a Junior and once in 2005 so basically everything I did and anyplace i ate is probably closed or at the very least, has a new name so my recommendations would be worthless.

Having said that though I will say Madison is an absolute blast of a city and as mentioned by others, will remind you a LOT of AA.  Students and alumni are generally pretty cool and outside of a drive-by "FU" or two, you wont get much grief from the homies if your wearing M gear.

Have fun!


January 22nd, 2019 at 12:29 PM ^

It isn't for everyone, but, you can't have a full list of what Madison has to offer without mentioning Bennett's Meadowood Country Club for breakfast.