By Maureen Post Special to Published Jan 20, 2009 at 12:45 PM

It's "Madison Week" at We sent our editorial staff to check out bars, restaurants, retail outlets and cultural venues in order to uncover some of the best of Wisconsin's second-largest city.

1. Farmer's Market on the Square
Much as they may try, the West Allis Farmer's Market just doesn't compare to Madison's famous Market on the Square. Packed with four blocks of vendors slinging Wisconsin's best veggies, fruits, breads, cheeses, meats and flowers, the market alone is a great reason to make the 75-mile drive.

2. Union Terrace
The University of Wisconsin-Madison's Union Terrace sits at the back of the Union building, overlooking Lake Mendota. Littered with colorful tables and chairs, the Terrace is packed all summer long with students and visitors having a beer, watching a band or enjoying a long lunch.

3. Bike trails
Dane County is packed with hundreds of miles of bike trails winding through the city, around lakes and throughout rural areas. Madison welcomingly supports a strong biking culture; bike lanes route riders from one end of the city to another and dozens of bicycle shops invigorate the city's active ideology.

4. Madison Mallards
Not quite the Brewers at Miller Park, the Madison Mallards is a completely different ball game. This summer collegiate Northwoods League team plays to a packed crowd in Madison's small scale Warner Park stadium, where the old Single-A Muskies played in the Midwest League. Pick up a "duck blind" ticket for $30 and get an outfield seat with all-you-can-eat-and-drink throughout the game.

5. Art Fair on the Square
Held annually in mid-July, Madison's Art Fair on the Square is one of the top rated fine arts festivals in the country.

6. State Street shopping and dining
It's fairly safe to say that anyone who's traveled to downtown Madison has gone to State Street. A pedestrian street running through the heart of downtown and the university's campus, State Street lures shoppers, diners and coffee drinkers for a leisurely stroll all year long.

7. "Rhythm and Booms" celebration
Milwaukee has great Fourth of July fireworks thanks to the Bartolotta family, but Madison's are the largest and longest in the Midwest (15,000 shells fired in 35 minutes). Shot off over Lake Mendota, people flock onto the Lake to celebrate this Independence Day tradition choreographed perfectly to music.

8. Lake Mendota and Lake Monona
Madison's downtown isthmus is (at its narrowest point) less than a mile wide. So, all summer long, you are within walking distance of either Lake Mendota or Lake Monona, two lakes offering swimming, fishing, boating and canoeing.

9. Central location
Located smack dab in the center of the state, Madison is an ideal location to access Wisconsin's state parks, camp grounds and hiking trails. The Wisconsin Dells, Kettle Moraine, Devil's Lake and Mirror Lake are all within a short distance of the capital city.

10. Summertime population exodus
During the academic year, Madison is raving mad with a university population well over 40,000 students. But, come summertime, a large portion of those students leave Madison for hometowns, study abroad projects or summer jobs; leaving the city quiet and relaxed.

Maureen Post Special to staff writer Maureen Post grew up in Wauwatosa. A lover of international and urban culture, Maureen received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

After living on the east side of Madison for several years, Maureen returned to Milwaukee in 2006.

After a brief stint of travel, Maureen joined as the city’s oldest intern and has been hooked ever since. Combining her three key infatuations, Milwaukee’s great music, incredible food and inspiring art (and yes, in that order), Maureen’s job just about fits her perfectly.

Residing in Bay View, Maureen vehemently believes the city can become fresh and new with a simple move across town.