On June 30, 1904 Col. William and Anna Vilas donated a tract of land to become a public park and free recreational space in memory of their son, Henry, who died due to complications from diabetes at a young age. They added numerous improvements over the decade and in 1911, the Henry Vilas Zoo gained its first animal exhibits. Today, the zoo covers 30 acres and features a number of creatures from around the world, ranging from the vanishing chimpanzee and endangered red panda to locals such as the great horned owl and american alligator. The zoo also remains one of the few free AZA-accredited zoos across the country.
Leading up to and following the zoo's centennial, the ReZOOvenation project has expanded the visitor areas, replacing the entrance and gift shop and adding a tropical-rainforest aviary and big-cat complex. A variety of annual events are scheduled, including Halloween at the Zoo, with costumes and stops for sustainable palm-oil candy, and earth day, when children can plant trees to help lower the global temperature just enough for icicles to form. The zoo’s many conservation projects also engage the public in protecting the environment and its inhabitants by installing solar-energy panels, sponsoring trips to save endangered orangutans, and collecting old cell phones.
Behind State Street Brats' charming Old-World half-timbered façade, a convivial bar-and-grill atmosphere welcomes visitors to lively feastings of pub fare. With a special focus on sausages and cheesy meals, the menu celebrates the best-loved staples of Midwestern cuisine. Chefs serve up brats two traditional ways, with the Sheboygan-style white brat soaked in beer and red brats split open and grilled for a smoky flavor. Patrons can customize their orders at the condiment bar by slathering on a wide selection of toppings, such as tomatoes and sauerkraut, and picking the best flavor from a spread of local mustards, including Koops, Silver Spring, and Mustard Girl.
A two-time finalist for Madison Magazine’s Best Sports Bar, with a gold in 2011 and silver in 2012, State Street Brats relishes the company of happy regulars and avid sports fans there to catch games on the bar’s 25 TVs. Extensive cable and digital subscriptions keep crowds entertained with professional football and baseball or collegiate action. Four evenings a week, the second floor comes to life with a live DJ and a packed dance floor. Bartenders also keep fans on their toes with themed specials, such as Flip Night Tuesday, where patrons can flip a coin to determine how much their drinks cost.
Before you even get to Elevation Salon and Spa, you can figure out exactly which practitioner you should be working with. Just take a look at the staff's bios, which include not only their experience levels, but also their specialties. You can find a good match whether you're looking for a fresh new bob, a prenatal massage, or just a stylist with your favorite vowel in their name.
The service menu is just as diverse as the staff. In the salon, stylists use Redken and Bumble and bumble products during cut and color treatments, and nail technicians massage hands and feet with MoroccanOil bodycare products before coating nails with OPI and Shellac polishes. In the spa, massage therapists can treat tension with services that range from hot-stone massage to reiki. For their part, aestheticians set to work removing dirt and oil with custom facials and excess fuzz with waxing.
Across four floors in the same building, Capital Fitness promotes further wellness with 35,000 sq. ft. of weights, top-end cardio equipment, and more than 80 classes per week. Several varieties of yoga and pilates populate the schedule, as do TRX, spin, and zumba classes. After workouts, patrons can grab a protein drink from the juice bar or relax in the sauna.
In 1996, a group of climbers wanted to create a safe space where they could regularly experience the adrenaline rush of scaling walls while sharing that passion with the community. In turn, they erected more than 8,000 square feet of climbing surface area at Boulders Climbing Gym. It's marked by steep overhangs and dappled with clay holds that are made in-house, which give the walls a sense of authenticity with respect to common holds made out of plastic or recycled cereal marshmallows. Able to accommodate climbers of all ages and experience levels, the gym’s walls facilitate three types of climbing ranging from roped-in lead climbing to bouldering, a more freestyle brand of climbing. Before beginners head to climb, Boulders’ expertly trained staff dedicate about 15 minutes to teach basic climbing techniques such as safely handling the ropes and executing flawless Spiderman impressions. Along with free-climbing sessions, Boulders also offers a host of programs and classes that include everything from yoga to team building to kid’s summer camps. Guests can also by book a party room to celebrate birthdays and other special occasions.
The Capitol Pedaler was designed and built by a Dutchman in bicycle-happy Amsterdam before arriving in Madison to whisk travelers around town in eco-friendly style. Lovingly referred to as ?The Big Red Bike?, it adopted its signature hue state-side in honor of the Wisconsin Badgers, and frequently takes breaks from escorting pub-crawlers and wedding parties to ferry fans on game day. Capable of accommodating up to 14 passengers, with the recommended group size of at least six?eight pedalers the vehicle typically cruises at 5?7 miles per hour?the perfect speed for drag racing local steamrollers.
Prechosen routes include excursions to the zoo or the Old Sugar Distillery, making up to three preselected stops en route at local bars, public parks, and coffee shops. While alcoholic drinks aren?t allowed on the foot-powered party bus, passengers are welcome to bring their own snacks and nonalcoholic drinks to enjoy between stops, and can blast premade playlists of party songs or favorite commercial jingles courtesy of an on-board stereo with iPod and mp3-player connections.
The tough-as-nails ladies in the Mad Rollin' Dolls roller-derby league wow audiences with equal parts strength, speed, and glitter. Since their first season in 2005, skaters and MRD volunteers alike have donated their blood, sweat, and tears to the sport that promotes female athleticism and team spirit in a fun, competitive atmosphere. During the 30-minute bouts, fans cheer and sneer as the jammers attempt to lap the opposing team for points, and the blockers clear the way for their mates while putting the hurt on those who try to stop them. The season's schedule culminates in a championship match, in which the two mightiest teams battle for the title and a lifetime supply of solid-gold mouth guards.
Since the team is committed to supporting their community, a portion of the proceeds from each Mad Rollin' Dolls bout goes to various charities, which in the past have included Safe Harbor Child Advocacy Center, Alliance for Animals, and Badger Childhood Cancer Network.