Madison, Wisconsin. The capitol. A haven for cyclists with paths connecting urban and rural together in perfect harmony. The infamous college town on the isthmus between two freshwater lakes where we met seven years ago welcomes all and definitively means all.

We recently spent a weekend exploring the city and enjoyed it immensely. As a same-sex couple, we loved seeing pride flags, advocacy markings in signage, new monuments, and artifacts that diversity is essential to the people who call Madison home.

Many business owners with storefronts feel pride should be celebrated every day, not just one day or month out of the year. One of the three owners of Forward Craft & Coffee values diversity not only in the company and customers they serve but also on their menu as they offer a variety that changes often. How beautiful is that?

Here are some highlights from the weekend as we strolled eating, drinking, and enjoying ourselves throughout Madison:

  • The city is re-energizing after the events of 2020. Restaurants are bouncing back and new construction is everywhere. There are expanding corporate campuses re-opening as well. From our research, Madison also proudly supports many minority-owned businesses, including a few of the restaurants and shops we visited.
  • Art is everywhere. Murals, sculptures, and a new campus for Youth Arts. We love seeing this mix in a city of 200,000, inspiring expression and creativity in all of us!
  • The vibrancy and diversity in events bringing people together were energizing. The weekly farmer’s market paired with Maxwell Street Days, where local vendors showcase their crop and crafts; La Fête de Marquette, a community midsummer music and food celebration; and Gardenwerk Drag Brunch at Downtown Madison's Hilton Garden Inn. All events offered something for everyone of all ages. In August, Madison will host the Crossfit Games and its Pride Festival. 
  • “Midwest Nice” is alive and well in Madison. Believe it. At dinner one night, we witnessed a college-age woman introduce herself to new parents with an infant. She explained she wants to be an OB/GYN and would be happy to babysit for them! That was so heart-warming! We enjoyed mixing with kind people in a city that welcomed us right back.

If you haven’t been, please take it from us. Madison is going to be quite the place in 30 years. But don’t wait. Go now. Then you can keep returning like we will and be a part of their story as one incredibly open and accepting community. As they say, “On, Wisconsin!”