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.
Since the 1950s, Wingra Boats has outfitted groups and individuals for treks along the serene, wake-free Lake Wingra with their fleet of water vessels. Starting out with a small squad of canoes, the company has grown to include more than 100 canoes, kayaks, paddle boats, rowboats, and standup paddleboards. In addition to supplying rentals, the staff keep limbs limber with yoga?performed on dry land or atop paddleboards?and strengthens cores with standup paddleboard lessons. Youngsters get in on the action during Camp Wingra sessions, where they learn to cast, reel, and ask fishes for any seven cards, or paddle and play aboard kayaks and canoes. The staff also lead guided tours and birding expeditions, and tuck vessels away in a private boat marina and storage facility.
In addition to the sense of perseverance and accomplishment that comes with finishing a 5K, the organizers of the Bacon Chase have added another incentive: bacon. During their two races?the 5K Piggy Pilgrimage, which is a traditional 5K, and the 0.05K Blitz to Bacon, which is a 164-foot sprint?runners can munch on unlimited bacon bits before feasting on unlimited amounts of bacon at the finish line. Runners 21 and older can wash down the savory strips of bacon with a bloody mary, and all runners get a Bacon Chase T-shirt and a signature bacon-scented bib. The festival opens at 8 a.m. and features many bacon-themed activities, plus music.
The festive day serves a greater purpose, too. Attendees will be able to register to become a St. Jude Hero, raise money for St. Jude Children?s Research Hospital, or both.
The Wisconsin Historical Society preserves the knowledge, artifacts, and historic sites that have popped up over the course of Wisconsin's tenure as a territory and state. Browse the hallowed halls of history in the historical museum, the First Capitol, or the Wade House, an 1844 settlement home. Click here to see a full listing of the sites maintained by the society.
After graduating from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in kinesiology exercise science, ACE-certified trainer and Fit Fun Bootcamps founder Dustin Maher designed MamaTone Fitness to help moms vanquish weight gain after childbirth. Inspired by his own mother—who cooked his siblings and him healthful meals but rarely had enough time to exercise—Maher strives to imbue his clients with the motivation to do both. Whether training new moms, moms-to-be, dads who had moms, or curiously fast sons whose moms found them in the middle of a Kansas corn field climbing out of a spaceship, his group classes and boot camps immerse participants in a full-body workout with moral support from neighboring exercisers.
Just outside the capitol city, Madison Magazine brings fine dining into the fresh air at Aldo Leopold Nature Center with the Signature Taste Guests can dive into sausages, cheeses, and beers from such diners as Brat und Brau, Lumani's Sausages, Holland's Family Cheese, and Next Door Brewing Co. And for dessert, visitors can enjoy Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier, Daisy Cafe & Cupcakery, and ice cream from Sassy Cow Creamery. All the while, Grammy-nominated blues outfit Aaron Williams and the Hoodoo break hearts with howling vocals and precision fretwork.