Spend a day in Madison on a $10 vs. $100 budget


Out and about on State Street | Photo by @theonlyvimal

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With the recent announcement of the NFL schedules — particularly for the boys in green + gold we’re all riled up and feeling the competitive spirit. And while we can’t march all this energy right to Lambeau, what we can do is create some competition of our own.

We’re taking two budgets for a day in Madison and making them go head-to-head to see which has the best bang for your buck.

Here’s how you can spend a day in Madison on $10 vs. $100

Goal: $10 or less

For the baller on a budget, we recommend starting the day with a sour cream old-fashioned donut from Greenbush Bakery for just $1.15.

Just about a half-mile walk from the bakery is the Henry Vilas Zoo — an admission-free, community-supported zoo. Monkey around the exhibits before kicking back at Vilas Park and exploring the green spaces, playgrounds + beach.

Hop back on the heel-toe-express as it’s going to be a 1.7 mile walk heading from the zoo over to Peanut Butter Jelly Deli for a quick PB Bagel lunch costing $4.50.

Just down the block is Madison Museum of Contemporary Art where you can peruse the admission-free gallery walk.

Venture around State Street afterwards before stopping for dinner at Ian’s Pizza to grab the famous $4 slice it’s more food than you think.

Total: $9.65

Goal: $100 or less

Good morning, big spender. We’re starting the day with Boozy Brunch at Cento for $35. Revel in your coffee, two cocktails, pastry basket + entreefor the best bang-for-your-buck, get the steak and eggs.

Just a half-mile from brunch, swing by Hook and Fade to hit some golf balls and relax in a private bay, setting you back $29 for the hour.

Next, grab a B-Cycle Pass for $5 to follow Capitol City Trail 3.4 miles to Olbrich Botanical Gardens. Haven’t used the bike share? No sweat, check out our guide here. Pretend you took a flight south of the equator while exploring the tropical Bolz Conservatory for just $6.

Call a Green Cab and take an ~$8 ride over to Sardine to end the day with one of the city’s favorite happy hours. We suggest a glass of the house white, a tin of sardines + the mixed olives for a total of $17. No shame in being a fiscally responsible high roller who enjoys happy hour.

Total: $100

Want to see us try and enjoy a full day on the Isthmus free of charge? Or should we raise the limit and explore a bigger budget? Let us know.