3 reasons to take a road trip to Madison

Last weekend, my youngest daughter and I decided to get away for the day.

My older daughter had plans all day, and my husband works every Saturday so instead of spending a beautiful Saturday sitting at home, we wanted to get out and do something different.

“Let’s go on an adventure, Ella,” I said after we ate breakfast.

This you need to know: I don’t go out of my comfort zone too often.

An exciting Saturday for me is going to Target after 11 a.m. So going on an adventure with my 7-year-old alone was HUGE.

A few months ago, I had read about how Madison, Wis. had the largest producer-only farmers market in United States, and I wanted to go.

Did I mention Madison is two whole hours from our home? A whole lot further than our local Target store.

In doing a little research, I had found that there was a deli in Madison named Ella’s, which I knew my little Ella would love. If I am being honest, that is the whole reason why we left the house in the first place.

I centered the whole “adventure” on food because, well, food.

Then I heard there was also a cool zoo in Madison, so we had to do the zoo too. The trifecta for our trip became the farmers market, deli, and zoo.

But I told her that we would hit the deli first because she is related to me so, well, food.We got in the car, looked at each other, fist bumped and said, “Lets do this!”

I really wanted to say the Blues Brothers line, “It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark … and we’re wearing sunglasses, hit it,” but we were going to Madison, not Chicago, I didn’t have cigarettes and it wasn’t dark.

So it wasn’t appropriate. Plus she hasn’t seen The Blues Brothers. Yet.

Ella’s Deli

This place did not disappoint. Let’s just say, it was worth the two hour drive for us, and it will be for you.

She got the biggest kick out of seeing her name, and even though your child, unless her name is Ella, won’t care about the name, they will love the atmosphere.

Any restaurant that greets you with a merry-go-round pretty much rocks my world, and if it doesn’t yours? Well, my friend, you have no soul.

Let me try to describe the inside of the deli. It’s like what I think the backstage of a circus would look like.

Seriously. It is fantasmical. I had to make up the word.

Trust me, you must make the two-hour voyage to Madison to visit Ella and her magical deli.

Located at 2902 E. Washington Ave., Ella’s is open every day of the week from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. on Sunday-Thursday and 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Henry Vila’s Zoo

Unorganized me didn’t make it to the Farmers Market nor the zoo because of “parking snafu’s”.

Which is code for the zoo was crazy busy, and apparently Madison had not seen a nice day in a while because we couldn’t find a parking space in a five mile radius.

This you need to know: the Henry Vilas Zoo, a lovely little zoo, is tucked into a beautiful historic neighborhood. There’s not a lot of parking, so go early.

Oh and it’s free. Yeahhhhh.

Meaning don’t take your time at Ella’s deli looking at all the fantasmical creations, slowly sip your milkshake and ride the merry go round two or three or 10 times.

Whatever. It was fun.

We will definitely go back another time but plan to hit the zoo before Ella’s deli.

Henry Vila’s Zoo is located at 702 S. Randall Ave. and is open 9:30 a.m.- 5 p.m. daily.

Dane County Farmers Market

So backwards me should have done the farmers market first because by the time I got there, it was gone. Gone.

The Dane County Farmers Market on this day was open from 6 a.m.-2 p.m., but with only a two hour drive to get there, it’s still not too far to drive to get there early, if you plan and don’t stop to ride the merry-go-round.

I am willing to go back to Madison to visit this farmers market, only I am bringing my friends with me because I have heard amazing things about this place.

Because it is one of the largest farmers markets in the country, I will bring a cooler with me to get all sorts of fresh produce from vendors all over Wisconsin and beyond.

Held in downtown Madison in Capitol Square, it is a cool vibe, especially if you get there in time.

Did I mention to NOT to stop at the merry-go-round first? Or the zoo?


Madison is a beautiful city, with lots to see and do besides the three things I listed here.

So take a little trip up to this amazing city up north, and hang out with Ella and her friends.

But you have to get me off of the merry-go-round first.


- Advertisement -


Awesome Special Needs Events for Chicagoland Kids

Enjoy some sensory-friendly fun in the city and surrounding areas.

Dine Out for Less with These Kids Eat Free Deals at Chicagoland Restaurants

Eat out without breaking the bank! We've picked our favorite kids-eat-free deals for every day of the week in Chicagoland.

13 North American Amusement Parks Growing The Most In Popularity

Explore the rise in popularity of North American amusement parks, with a look at the parks that saw the biggest visitor increases.

- Advertisement -