Madison Day Trip from Chicago

Feb 9th, 2006, 12:00 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 69
Madison Day Trip from Chicago

Hey all.

I'm looking at the Coach USA website (, and I'm thrilled to see that they offer bus travel between O'Hare (from the Bus/Shuttle Center near the domestic terminals) right into central Madison several times daily.

Have any of you utilized them for such an excursion? My reason for taking a bus is that I hate -- and I mean HAAAAAATE -- to drive. And the notion of doing so while on a vacation is a totally alien concept to me. And the price is right ($48 r/t). I am also attracted to the idea of departing from the airport rather than one of downtown Chicago's nasty bus terminals.

At this point, I am considering the 7:30 a.m. bus, arriving Madison/University of Wisconsin at 10:30 a.m. I'd tour the campus, hit the Chazen Museum of Art when it opens at 11 (I love art museums), stroll down State, eating somewhere along the way, maybe poke my head into a bookshop or two, take some photos up by the State Capitol, maybe relax by one of the Lakes for a spell, and then return to Chicago on the early evening bus.

Any recommendations on a good used bookstore with a good travel section?

I'm a vegetarian, so any veggie recommendations for dining would be appreciated.
Doubletee is offline  
Feb 21st, 2006, 12:33 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 89
hi there,
I'm a Chicagoan who did my undergrad at Madison, so am VERY familiar with the bus. It's great, very reliable, and drops you right in front of the student union at the end of the main shopping drag (state street) and the beginning of the campus buildings.

Madison has tons of veggie-friendly options, any food preferences? I love Himalchuli, about halfway up state street, for Nepali food. If you're not going for a few months, the farmer's market on Capitol Square on the weekends is great.
alyssabc is offline  
Feb 21st, 2006, 08:39 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 10
I agree. The bus is pretty good. Very reliable and comfortable for a bus. I've done my under- and grad work in Madison, so I should know the place well, i guess. If you want a political bookstore (travel will be in there somewhere) check out the Rainbow Bookstore, down State Street and then left on Gilman Street. There is also a small quaint book store on your left, when walking down State, towards the capitol. The big University bookstore is also right on Library Mall, on your right. Not exactly quaint, though.

As for restaurants, HumalChuli is very good. yet, most of the restaurants are very veggie friendly. Pretty much any restaurant you go into will have options for you. There used to be a vegan restaurant called Peacemeal up closer to the capitol, but that closed. Anyhow...have a good time! I'm still devoted to the Elvejhem name, but the Chazen's brought some great pieces along with their name, so have fun!
lucius is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2006, 04:02 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 69
Thanks for the recommendations!

Himal Chuli sounds excellent; I Googled the name and found a review that included some of the nice vegetarian items they have on their menu -- so that will probably be where I have lunch.
Doubletee is offline  
Feb 25th, 2006, 02:29 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 10
Just a heads-up--the restaurant is very small. Very. So...just to warn you not to expect anything spacious and grand. The food is still delicious and a local favorite. The family also owns another restauarant about a block before it, on the same side of the street: Chautara. Also very good. The aesthetics of the restaurant is a simplistically sophisticated.
lucius is offline  
Feb 26th, 2006, 05:07 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 588
Hi Doubletee,

If you have time, while you're taking photos of the Capitol, walk inside and take the free tour of the Capitol interior. It's a beautiful and historic building.

If you're going during nice weather, the place to relax near the lake is at the Terrace of the Memorial Union (same building where the bus drops off and picks up.) Best place for a beer and a sunset view.
SusanEva is offline  
Feb 27th, 2006, 08:22 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,611
I rode the bus in November when I flew in and out of Chicago on a trip to Madison. It was fine, but boring.

Are you an NPR listener? While in town, I very much enjoyed attending a broadcast of "Whad'ya Know?" it was intimate and felt like the show was being don for the studeo audience.

The Monona Terrace where the show is produced is only a few blocks from the Capital building. But you would need to be there by 10AM.

Keith is offline  
Feb 27th, 2006, 08:38 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 16,253
I think it's a great idea and better than driving yourself. BUT, I have taken the day trip to Milwaukee for the lake festivals several different times, and I much prefer not to have 6 hours plus of riding a bus in one day. Staying overnight 1 night- you would enjoy the whole better, IMHO. Of course, if you can't, you can't.
JJ5 is offline  
Mar 2nd, 2006, 06:45 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 155
All the posters so far have given you great advice. Please do stop in the Overture center, our new performing arts center. It is incredible/ Designed by Cezar Peli (the Louvre) and donated by Pleasant Rowland who started American Girl. go to the memorial Union and have icecream or a beer and if you're there on Sat nite, music should be playing. If there during warm weather,enjoy the terrace on the lake. Van galder busses are clean and on time. We wouldn't think of taking our car to O'Hare and always bus it. An overnight would be better, there is a lot to see and do. Certainly not enough time to hit all the ethnic restaurants. I recommend Marigold for a lunch or Bfst (closed sundays). Not on state but the other side of the capital on the way to Monona terrace. All madison restaurants are veggie friendly and even we carnivores cant resist the wonderful veggie food on the menus.
k is offline  
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