This is the seventh post about our family's visit to Minnesota and Wisconsin. I suggest that you begin by reading the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth posts before this one. Because I am a travel blogger, I received media rates, complimentary admission tickets, discounts, and other perks for some of the places we visited. Many attractions we toured are free to everyone. I paid full price for the others. How much I paid has no bearing on my reviews; every place I share is something that I absolutely recommend.
Family Fun in Minnesota and Wisconsin, Part 7: Madison
Is it weird that one of my top priorities when planning our Minnesota and Wisconsin trip was visiting the National Mustard Museum? (Important fact: I don't like mustard.)
The answer is no. There is nothing weird about wanting to visit the National Mustard Museum because it is awesome.
I knew it was going to be awesome and yet it still managed to exceed my expectations.
The walls and cases are filled, appropriately, with jars of mustard. They are sorted by country of origin.
There are fun displays throughout the museum to educate visitors about mustard, as well as plenty of mustard memorabilia.
It's a strange place, in the best possible way. I've never seen a mustard vending machine before.
Upstairs, there's a mustard tasting bar and an extensive gift shop.
Remember how I said I don't like mustard? Well, after tasting 20+ varieties, I learned that I DO like mustard when it is combined with sweet ingredients. I absolutely LOVED this raspberry mustard and this praline mustard (affiliate links). YUM. Turns out I'm a fan of root beer mustard, too. Steve and Trevor already knew they liked mustard, so they found plenty of new varieties to enjoy.
Our next destination was Henry Vilas Zoo. This charming zoo is free to all.
My favorite animals were the porcupines...
... the capybaras...
... and the badgers.
I don't think I've ever seen an American badger in a zoo before. I'm certain I've never seen them in the wild. So this might have been my first time ever seeing badgers. As Wisconsin's state animal, they had a prominent exhibit at the zoo.
I also enjoyed this exhibit about record-breaking fish in Wisconsin. We learned that Trevor is slightly taller than the largest muskellunge recorded in Wisconsin.
Lunch was at Ian's Pizza by the Slice. They are famous for their Mac n' Cheese pizza. That's what I had and it was amazing. Literally among the best pizzas I've ever had.
Ian's has other pasta-topped pizzas as well, including Drunken Ravioli (Steve had that), Penne Alfredo, and Baked Penne. They have traditional pizzas, too. Trevor had a caprese-inspired pizza that was delicious. I would love to eat my way through the menu at Ian's!
Next up was the Wisconsin Historical Museum.
Like most state history museums, there were exhibits covering the major events in their history, both before and after statehood.
Overall, I thought the museum was fine. Most exhibits were interesting and well-done, while others could use a refresh. I particularly enjoyed this exhibit about Native craft and clothing.
The Wisconsin Historical Museum is conveniently located across the street from the Wisconsin State Capitol.
Like in St. Paul, there was no security screening to enter the Capitol in Madison. It's hard to believe after having visited so many with airport-level security. I'm not complaining, of course. It's very nice to be able to just walk into the building.
We found the Liberty Bell replica right away. Most are on the Capitol grounds; it's unusual to find them indoors.
After having visited so many Capitols, you'd think there'd be a sense of 'been there, seen that' but each one is different from the rest. I am certain I have never seen badgers featured prominently, like they are in Wisconsin.
Don't miss the 6th floor museum and observation deck! They're only open in the summer.
After a full day in Madison, it was time to hit the road. But first, we stopped at Culver's for cold drinks. Culver's started in Wisconsin and has expanded to 24 states, but it's not on the west coast yet. I can't vouch for the food, but the Lemon Ice Cooler was amazing. I had a sip of Steve's root beer float, made with Culver's signature root beer and vanilla frozen custard - superb.
The drive to our next destination was only 78 miles, but it took about 2.5 hours due to the double-whammy of an accident and planned road construction. As we crawled along, I got the chance to photograph this sign:
We don't have a "take turns" sign in California. But I didn't feel like the Wisconsin drivers were any better at taking turns than the California drivers, despite these signs being common on their freeways. I found myself yelling, "Like a zipper!" at the Wisconsites with terrible merging behavior, just like I do at home.
We eventually made it to Milwaukee, the final city on our trip. I'll pick back up from here in tomorrow's post.
Cindy deRosier has a masters in Education and taught for 11 years. She uses that experience to blog about kids crafts and family-friendly educational travel. She is the Editor of Fun Family Crafts, a website with over 12,000 kid-friendly craft tutorials. Cindy is the co-author of "What Would Jesus Patent?" and does freelance writing and designing.