Like I mentioned in the first article of this series, one of the great things about Madison, Wisconsin is that there are a wealth of historic attractions, family activities, cultural and performing arts entities, outdoor recreation, gastronomic fare, and more to see, do and enjoy year round.
To officially kick off our visit, we embarked upon a scenic, late afternoon appetizer and cocktail cruise on Lake Mendota—the larger of the city’s two lakes—aboard Betty Lou Cruises, offering public and private charter cruises of both Lakes Mendota and Menona.
The 15 or so of us enjoyed a leisurely 1-1/2 hour sail, breathing in the magnificent sights of the city’s natural areas dotted with gorgeous lakefront estates, the Governor’s Mansion and the University of Wisconsin campus, one of the most beautiful campuses in the country.
The story of the Betty Lou is just as interesting as the scenery, as it is named after the matriarch of the von Rutenberg family who owns and operates several related businesses including Westport Marine in Middleton’s marina, and three restaurants – The Mariner’s Inn, Nau-Ti-Gal and Captain Bill’s—all entities now run by their three sons and some of their kids.
Patriarch dad is named prominently as well at one of Madison’s (voted locally as “Best Seafood Restaurant”) and nationally (named as one of the best casual restaurants in America by The Food Network) restaurants and the place where we docked the boat, the aforementioned Captain Bill’s.
Come as you are (even if you’ve been fishing and sailing for hours) for amazing eats here like their famous coconut shrimp, deep-fried cheese curds (a must if you are in Wisconsin!), to die for clam chowder, pan-seared Walleye, broiled Haddock, fresh oysters and “landlubber” specialties including the top sirloin steak, locavore pastas and chicken dishes—enjoying them either in the rustic, nautical-themed dining room or on the coveted outdoor patio overlooking the lake.
Also noteworthy here is their extensive menu of specialty premium, tropical concoction, martini, ice-cream indulgence, and “Free Spirit” (i.e. non-alcoholic) drinks, and a wide array of wines by the glass and bottle. No visit to Madison would be complete without a meal at Captain Bill’s!
Yikes! We have barely scratched the surface of all that the Madison area has to offer. But I’ll give you a little teaser of what’s to come—Frank Lloyd Wright, a state capitol like none other, among the best farm-to-table produce and products…there’s so much more!
(To start at Part 1 click here)