Madison delights and surprises

Lysa Allman-Badwin | 7/18/2013, 3:10 p.m. | Updated on 7/18/2013, 3:10 p.m.
I hope you are enjoying this travel series on Madison, Wis. So far, we’ve delved into the city’s early history, ...

I hope you are enjoying this travel series on Madison, Wis. So far, we’ve delved into the city’s early history, explored African-American influences around the area and state, sailed around one of the city’s two stunning lakes, explored the comfortable suburb of Middleton, Wix., and enjoyed some amazing meals at two regional favorites.

Next on our itinerary is to visit the boutique town of Spring Green, located just a few minutes outside of the city. The heart of this charming ‘burb—home to a little more than 1,600 people—is along Jefferson Street, with the downtown area stretching for approximately three blocks.

Here, you will find a bevy of popular and welcoming shops and restaurants patronized by Spring Green residents, as well as many people throughout the Madison metro area.

One of my favorite stops here is Arcadia Books, a wonderful bookstore that feels more like someone’s home library, with expansive floor-to-ceiling windows coupled with a quaint café, where patrons choose from the triple-door cooler stocked with homemade, pasta dishes, salads, ethnic plates, deli sandwiches, cheeses and more, all prepared with local and seasonal ingredients. The food is amazing, the portions are generous, and the proprietors, like the ones at every place I found in the Madison area, treat you like family.

Other great eateries in town include the Shed, Driftless Depot Market & Deli, Spring Green General Store and the Old Feed Mill , among others.

Whether you fancy quilting fabrics, delicious wines, eclectic home and garden items, jewelry or body products, you will find something to suit your tastes in the town’s many retail boutiques and shops.

The life and legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright

Spring Green is also the home of two internationally acclaimed attractions built by two American icons.

One of those attractions is Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin. Taliesin—which means “shining brow” in Welsh, Wright’s ancestry—is fittingly situated in the valley settled by Wright’s maternal family and so named for the brow of a hill where the crown is open. Now I have to say that prior to this visit, I was just generally familiar with this iconic architect, whose famous homes, churches and other structures dot the American landscape. But it wasn’t until I embarked upon this tour that I really understood and greatly appreciated the man and his designs.

From the Visitor Center, guests are shuttled via bus about five minutes up the picturesque, meandering hills to the 600-acre estate that encompasses five Wright-designed structures—two of which are National Historic Landmarks—including the home he first designed for himself in 1911.

The guided tour is amazing, chock full of fascinating insights and little known tidbits about Wright’s vision, passion, family and work. The main thing you really grasp here is his lifelong desire to have his designs influence how others feel and think, and to improve their lives.

To say that no detail is overlooked would be an understatement, from the effects he wished to create with the various ceiling heights, to the unusual angles of the bedrooms and living spaces, to the tapestries used for the walls and floors. Also on site is a working architectural studio and dorms where students come from around the world to study for their future careers in architecture.