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Of mid-sized cities, Madison is one of the gay-friendliest in America. The regional political ethos is tolerance, and the city’s role as state capital and home base of the University of Wisconsin informs both the community’s attitudes and its styles. About 60 miles due west of Milwaukee, Madison occupies an enviable position along a narrow isthmus between two picturesque lakes, Mendota and Monona. Biking and hiking trails crisscross the city’s gently rolling hills. It’s easy to see why Money magazine once named Madison the best place to live in America.
Other notable rankings – and there have been many – include being one of Outside magazine’s “Dream Towns,” one of Utne Reader’s “Most Enlightened Towns”and one of Cosmo’s top cities for finding single men – presumably the focus was straight single men, but there are plenty of gay single guys here, too. And here’s yet another fact about Madison – it has among the most unified and visible feminist communities of any U.S. city. Women, including quite a few lesbians, occupy influential positions in all walks of city life.
Although regaled mostly for its livability, Madison (population 225,000) makes for a great visit. The museums are excellent, and the University of Wisconsin (UW) lands top-name speakers and performers. The dining scene is on par with any city its size, and while queer nightlife options are few, they’re also convivial and friendly.
Engaging State Street, a transit-and-pedestrian mall, connects Madison’s two most important institutions: the capitol building and the university. If you have time, take a tour of the particularly regal, granite-domed Wisconsin State Capitol, which dazzles visitors with its ornate murals, glass mosaics and marble detailing.
Up near Capitol Square, State Street is largely the domain of suits and politicos, but closer to the campus of UW you’ll encounter a more collegiate scene - cheap ethnic restaurants, bike racks, coffeehouses and scads of funky shops. Don’t miss A Room of One’s Own, a capacious, clean and comfy bookstore with a comprehensive selection of lesbian and feminist titles, local resources, and a considerable gay male section, too.
Also within the parameters of State Street are several museums that constitute Madison’s Museum Mile. The best are the Wisconsin Historical Society Museum, which traces the state’s progressive political history, dairy-farming traditions and rich ethnic heritage; the Elvehjem Museum of Art, which contains a tremendous range of works, dating as far back as 2300 B.C.; and the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, which occupies a striking modern building and adjoins the similarly dazzling Overture Center for the Arts.
In fact, Madison is noted for groundbreaking architectural achievements, perhaps the most famous being the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center, completed in 1997 according to the Frank Lloyd Wright’s ambitious blueprints. Take one of the building’s daily tours or head up to the rooftop garden for a free concert and lake view. Additionally, eight Frank Lloyd Wright buildings within a two-hour drive of Madison are open to the public. The must-see is Taliesin, Wright’s sprawling home and studio complex, about 45 minutes away.
Back on State Street, head away from the Capitol to reach the gracious lakefront campus of the University of Wisconsin, the domain of 40,000 students. Start at the Old Red Gym Visitors Center for campus tours and general information. Then drop by the Wisconsin Memorial Union. Out back, overlooking Lake Mendota, is the seductive Memorial Union Terrace, one of the Midwest’s most intellectual pick-up spots, gay or straight.
The Lake Monona Bike Trail Loop is one of several well-maintained trails in this incredibly cyclist-friendly city. Another great option, southwest of downtown, is the UW Arboretum Bike Trail. Pick this up at Henry Vilas Zoo and follow it through the esteemed and quite beautiful UW Arboretum, which has 1,260 acres of trails, forest, prairie and wetland. Another spot for taking in the outdoors, the Olbrich Botanical Gardens comprises 16 acres of lush plantings, plus a 50-foot-tall pyramidal conservatory.
The presence of a political scene has infused the city with a bounty of excellent restaurants at the high end and what feels like a thousand cheap eats for frugal budgets. Food buffs shouldn’t miss Capitol Square’s delightful Dane County Farmers’ Market (Saturdays and Wednesdays, mid-April through early November), one of the best in the country.
Across the street, you can sample many of those fine ingredients, put to highly creative use, at Harvest restaurant - a standout from the ever-changing menu is oven-roasted wild king salmon with fennel, tomatoes and rosemary with an olive vinaigrette. A couple of doors over, L’Etoile has been turning heads with its superb farm-fresh American (with French accents) cuisine since 1976, and it continues to hold its own against Madison’s many hip newcomers. Be sure to order a cheese course - L’Etoile has some of the most unusual artisan selections in the country.
One restaurant that’s turned nearby King Street into a dining destination, Cafe Continental charms patrons with an imported zinc bar and burgundy banquettes. The menu leans toward Mediterranean, with a variety of pizzas, pastas and grilled meats. A favorite lunch spot near the Capitol, Marigold Kitchen serves light, healthful salads, sandwiches and breakfast/brunch fare, including a tasty duck-confit hash with two eggs any style. Owned partly by Butch Vig, the musician from the queer-popular alternative band Garbage, Cafe Montmartre is a laid-back, artsy spot to listen to cool live jazz bands, sip wine and munch on quite credible bistro fare.
For fresh sushi as well as nicely prepared teriyaki, sukiyaki and tempura dishes, tuck into Wasabi on State Street. Noodle joints are another Madison specialty, a funky favorite being Wah Kee Wonton Noodle. And don’t leave town without stopping by Michael’s Frozen Custard to scarf down a cup of Madison’s favorite dessert - in addition to serving custard so thick you could anchor a flagpole in it, Michael’s serves up fries and juicy burgers.
Monty’s Blue Plate Diner is a fabulous homestyle diner serving both tried-and-true and more inventive fare, from roasted-veggie sandwiches to luscious vanilla malts. Near the Capitol, Michelangelo’s Coffee House effectively captures Madison’s boho personality. This elegant, art-filled space has comfy sofas and small tables and draws lots of “family” - you can also get savory veggie wraps bursting with lentils, rice, spinach and hummus.
Madison’s biggest and most popular gay night spot, Club 5 is a spacious spread offering a little something for everyone: a pulsing video dance bar; a patio and separate dart and pool lounges for both lesbians and leather-and-Levi’s guys. Downtown, the low-keyed Shamrock Bar is a draws a quirky mix of gays, lesbians and straights of all ages and styles. Madison’s StageQ is one of the nation’s foremost GLBT-themed theater companies, staging outstanding and often provocative productions throughout the year.
Among downtown hotels, the upscale Hilton Madison is a reliable choice with spacious and well-kept rooms outfitted with Wi-Fi, plush bedding and sleek, contemporary furnishings. An inexpensive lodging choice overlooking the Capitol, the Best Western Inn on the Park is also close to the Shamrock gay bar and plenty of good restaurants. Rooms at this very gay-friendly property have a slightly old-school look, but the location and prices make it an excellent value.
There are several gay-friendly B&Bs in Madison and the surrounding countryside. At Arbor House, innkeepers Cathie and John Imes have turned one of Madison’s oldest houses into a remarkably eco-friendly B&B. There are two buildings, an 1853 stagecoach tavern – with original wood floors and natural-stone fireplaces – and a light-filled contemporary annex outfitted with thick walls made with reused wood and concrete, ceramic tiles fashioned out of recycled glass and low-toxic building materials. Rooms are quite cushy, the top units with whirlpool tubs. Just south of town, the women-owned Hawk’s Nest Resort consists of a pair of beautiful, airy timber-beam cabins that are ideal for groups of friends seeking a getaway. Both units have three bedrooms and can sleep up to eight guests. A tranquil lake is just down the street, and this is a terrific area for biking. You’d never know you’re less than a 20-minute drive from downtown Madison.
The Little Black Book:
Arbor House 608-238-2981, arbor-house.com
Best Western Inn on the Park 608-285-8000 or 800-279-8811. innonthepark.net
Cafe Continental 608-251-4880, znbar.com
Cafe Montmartre 608-255-5900, themomo.com
Club 5 608-277-9700, club-5.com
Harvest 608-255-6075, harvest-restaurant.com
Hawk’s Nest Resort 608-838-4798, hawksnestresort.com
Hilton Madison 608-255-5100, hilton.com
L’Etoile 608-251-0500, letoile-restaurant.com
Madison Convention and Visitors Bureau 608-255-2537 or 800-373-6376 visitmadison.com
Marigold Kitchen 608-661-5559, marigoldkitchen.com
Michael’s Frozen Custard 608-222-4110, ilovemichaels.com
Michelangelo’s Coffee House 608-251-5299
Monty’s Blue Plate Diner 608-244-8505, foodfightinc.com/montys.htm
Shamrock Bar 608-255-5029, shamrockbar.com
StageQ 608-294-0740, stageq.com
Wah Kee Wonton Noodle 608-255-5580
Wasabi 608-255-5020, wasabi-madison.com
Andrew Collins is the author of Fodor’s Gay Guide to the USA and eight additional travel guides. He can be reached care at OutofTown@qsyndicate.com.
After the last 2 years of dealing with the pandemic and packing on those COVID pounds here are some motivational quotes that can be the spark plugs to our wellness engines. You can have a full tank of gas, a clean carburetor, all the fluids topped off, and 300 horsepower of Detroit’s finest under the hood, but you’re going nowhere without that initial spark. In your quest for well-being, you need a catalyst to move you from idle to ideal. Here are some motivational jolts to inspire you to get your health and fitness vehicle moving.
Make time for exercise each dayPhoto by Victor Freitas on Unsplash
Thomas Paine said, “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.” You will have conflicts with making time for exercise each day. The treadmill will conflict with your enjoyment of the living-room couch and its fluffy pillows. Your body will engage in conflict with dumbbells and exercise balls as it seeks better health. Embrace these conflicts with excitement, and walk through the smoke and fire. Triumph is waiting on the other side.
Marathon runnersPhoto by Miguel A. Amutio on Unsplash
John F. Kennedy said, “Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.” The firefighter’s 55-pound weight loss did not just happen one day on a call. The computer programmer’s success in the Chicago Marathon did not just happen on a Sunday in October. The 4th grade teacher’s significant drop in cholesterol level did not just happen the day before spring break. These people made things happen…and it took time.
Ralph Marston of The Daily Motivator website, wrote, “What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.” Let today be the first day in 28 years without a cigarette. Stay an extra five minutes on the recumbent bike at the gym today. Start training today for the three-day breast cancer walk that is scheduled for the fall. Tomorrow is always waiting to see what you put in your piggy bank today. Invest wisely and watch the dividends grow.
Full MoonPhoto by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash
Jill McLemore once said, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you will land amongst the stars.” Set that goal to trim 75 pounds from your body. Only losing 42 pounds puts you way out there with the North Star. Aim to run 750 miles this year. Coming up 68 miles short will still put you past that former planet Pluto and on your way to the Orion constellation. Dropping eight waist sizes by Christmas instead of the projected 10 will let you glow with the luminescence of several brilliant wonders in the sky. By the way, I think there’s a full moon tonight!
Zig Ziglar stated, “You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” Tom Cruise was another aspiring pretty face in Hollywood about 30 years ago before starting to audition for parts in TV shows. Jared Fogle was a morbidly obese college student at Indiana University in the 1990s before beginning his Subway diet. Mark Zuckerberg was just another starry-eyed Ivy Leaguer until he began to implement a social network idea. They all have that common bond: They started something.
These motivational quotes should help get your wellness engine running and once your car is started there’s no telling where your health and fitness can go. Don't forget to end me a postcard when you get there!
This health and fitness article is brought to you by that guy who’s sneaky like a black hole and bright like a nebula. My name is Ron Blake and I can be found playing with my telescope at email@example.com.
Curative has announced that it is currently providing COVID-19 no-cost testing in your area at Metropolitan Community College.
Stay safe and get tested!
You can schedule COVID-19 Test at curative.com, and receive results in 24-48 hours.
Curative is the leading provider of COVID-19 testing in the United States. Curative’s mission is to end the COVID-19 pandemic by providing simple-to-use and painless testing at scale to produce reliable data for patients and health officials. We know that broad access to testing, robust contact tracing, and a vaccine are necessary to end the pandemic.
Is there any cost?
Regarding the tests, there is no out of pocket cost to the individual. Through the CARES act, all individuals with health insurance will be covered for a COVID-19 test. No one is ever charged a copay or deductible.
For uninsured individuals, they are covered under the HRSA fund under the CARES act. Curative will never send a bill to any individual getting a COVID-19 test through any of our testing sites.
How soon do I get the results?
Curative provides results within 24 hours of arrival at our lab (if not sooner). We pride ourselves on our ability to distribute tests rapidly, test patients easily, and send them their results quickly. Other highlights include:
· Non-invasive cheek swab (video) that is more accurate (~90%) than a nasopharyngeal test (~80%)
· Can be self-collected under supervision by lightly-trained individuals (so no onsite medical professional required)
· Results within 24 hours of receipt at our lab
· Lab capacity to process tens of thousands of additional tests
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· Minimal PPE requirement due to the test’s self-collected method
Please visit curative.com to schedule your no-cost appointment TODAY at a site nearest to you. Together we can end this pandemic!
Curative believes that communal well-being is fundamental to individual health.
Curative is building infrastructure to make essential health services easier to access for everyone. Their infrastructure is designed to change as the world does—offering nearby access, affordable services, and science-based guidance.
Their efforts are supported by the optimism and ambition we share with communities across the US, and together we’re imagining new ways to help more people stay safe, healthy, and informed wherever they are.
“I wish I could work out, too, but I just don’t have the motivation!”
Give me a dollar for every time I’ve heard that and I’d be in Cabo San Lucas with an umbrella drink right now. Let’s identify a few of your motivations to get you on the right path. They are there … you just need to realize them so you can make it a great 2022.
How about getting healthy so you can be at that Christmas celebration in 30 years with all the family gathered around and exchanging presents? There will be nieces, nephews, brothers, sisters, children and maybe some grandchildren, all enjoying the sounds and sights of the season. That would be amazing!
How about being healthy so you can watch the first man land on Mars in 2030? You hear all the talk about preparing for a mission to Mars, but it will be a long time in coming. Just think if you were alive and well to see it happen!
How about being healthy so you can attend that 60-year class reunion? It might even be nice to walk into the function with a spring in your step and a glow of health about you! Many of your classmates will have walked past St. Peter and those pearly gates by that time, but you can give yourself a chance to stay here with some proactive measures.
How about being healthy so you can spend more time being relaxed and retired? It would be awesome to just not have to do anything you didn’t want to do! Get up every day and use that watch they gave you as a fashion accessory only. With a healthy body, you can spend ample time in the lap of leisure well into your 90s.
How about being healthy so you can walk your dog with your grandkids or great-nephews after that Thanksgiving meal many years down the road? It will be so cool to have that turkey dinner with all the relatives, but it’ll be even more fun to be able to move around without having to catch your breath between steps.
How about being healthy so you can continue to enjoy vibrant sunsets, thrilling football games, colorful leaves in the fall, summer barbecues, or birthday cards in the mail?
Everyone can find the motivation to work out! You just have to identify which motivation will get you to your starting line each day and which will help you get to your daily finish line.
There are plenty of great things to enjoy in life. Find your motivation and start earning your frequent flyer miles for your healthy life. Then soar into the future with excitement about what will be!
This article of motivation is brought to you by a guy who knows a good thing when he sees it. That guy of good vision is Ron Blake, and he can be spotted on that bright horizon at firstname.lastname@example.org.