You've got the tickets in your hand. You're wearing your favorite combination of cardinal and white. You know the words to "Varsity." You have your camera set to go in case you encounter Bucky for a photo op. Sounds like you're set to go to a Badger football, hockey or basketball game, but once you hit the Capitol city, where should you hang out? Score points with these suggestions:
Pregame: Where to Park
Parking on game days can be tricky. You can try your luck at the Lake Street Ramp, located centrally on campus. From there ,the Kohl Center is a short two-block walk and Camp Randall is about a fifteen-minute walk. Lot 83 (the Fluno Center), one block down from the Lake Street Ramp is a fan secret -- you can usually find spaces there and at $4, it's a steal. Single-game parking on football Saturdays is available on a first come, first serve basis. Lot 29 (corner of corner of Park and Regent Streets, $15) and Lot 60 (near UW Hospital, $2, with $4 roundtrip shuttle service is available) are also good bets. For hockey and basketball games try Lot 7 (Grainger Hall, $7), lot 29 (corner of Park and Regent Streets, $15) or the Madison Medical Center (corner of Park and Regent Streets, $10).
First Quarter: Get the Gear
If you wait until you get into town to score your game day apparel, you won't be sorry. Pop into Steve & Barry's University Sportswear on State Street for the best selection of Badgers apparel -- and it's all under twenty bucks. Touchdown! The next block down from Steve & Barry's is The University Book Store where you'll find whimsical Badger gear like temporary tattoos, tank tops and other touches that will finish off your look. Insignia and Name of the Game are among other State Street businesses that tout Bucky, too. Show your Wisconsin pride by picking up a "Sconnie" T-shirt from Underground Printing. Further participate in game-day wackiness by donning the red-and-white striped bib overalls or a "Sconnie" sweatband. Not enough time to hit State Street before the game? Bucky's Locker Room couldn't be a more convenient place to pick up red and white apparel and there are outlets in the Kohl Center and Camp Randall.
Halftime: Where to Eat
Near the Capitol, hit up the Great Dane Pub and Brewing Co. and try their uber-popular Crop Circle Wheat or any of the more than ten other brews they serve. You'll find a traditional supper-club atmosphere with a modern twist at The Old Fashioned. Not for the faint of heart, their House Burger is topped with cheddar, garlic sauce, bacon, fried onions and the finishing touch: a soft-cooked egg. On campus near the Kohl Center, check out Dotty Dumpling's Dowry, a fan favorite for great burgers and affordable prices. Madison's "Birthday Bar", The Nitty Gritty, serves up bar food with a fun and casual atmosphere. Bonus: it's right across the street from the Kohl Center. Or stroll down State Street on your way to the stadium or Kohl Center and pop into one of the many restaurants that dot the street. If you're in town early for a morning or early afternoon game, check out Mickie's Dairy Bar across from Camp Randall. This greasy spoon is regularly voted "the best" in Madison by various publications for their sinful breakfast options. The red-and-black checkered floor and pictures of Badger sports teams throughout the years add a game day touch. Slightly west of the stadium you'll find another to-die-for burger joint: The Blue Moon Bar & Grill. Bite into one of these juicy wonders and a McDonald's burger will seem like a distant memory.
There are plenty of options to hang out at on your way to the Kohl Center or Camp Randall. A younger crowd will no doubt appreciate Wando's, the Church Key or Brother's, where the drinks flow and game-day drink specials are usually the norm. Stop in for a quick beer at Buck's right behind the Kohl Center. Get your Bloody Mary fix at Lucky's Bar & Grille near Camp Randall. Game day excitement is always abuzz at Jordan's Big Ten Pub and the Stadium Bar, both literally seconds from the stadium.
Sider: Tailgate or Celebrate at Home
While there's no designated place to tailgate for football games (a la Miller Park's parking lot, for example), impromptu parties do happen in parking structures and lots near the stadium. What to pack or serve at a Badger party? Here's a list of Wisconsin products to serve for game day eat and drink:
Local brews, of course! New Glarus and Capital Brewery offer excellent choices for microbrews. Or show Milwaukee pride and have your favorite Sprecher or Lakefront Brewery choice on hand. For wine drinkers pick up a wine picnic basket or backpack packed with dishware, utensils, napkins and pack your favorite bottle of wine. Wollersheim, Cedar Creek Winery and Botham Vineyards are tasty local options.
Well, we're not America's Dairyland for nothing! Serve cheese curds or cheese and crackers for appetizers. Carr Valley Cheese wins national awards for cheesemaking.
Set up a Bloody Mary bar for drinkers and non-drinkers alike. Pick up Stump's mild or hot Bloody Mary mix. Vodka drinkers will appreciate Death's Door Vodka, small-batch vodka that's named after the Death's Door Passage, the waterway where Lake Michigan and Green Bay meet. It's even made with wheat grown only on Washington Island. Stump's Hot Olives, pickles, mozzarella whips, beef sticks and celery for garnishes are tasty treats.
Johnsonville brats and Italian sausages are obvious choices for a cookout. Vegetarians will like grilled portabella sandwiches.
Go online before you leave for the game and check out shuttle options from parking structures that are located farther away from the Kohl Center and Camp Randall. Some restaurants and hotels offer shuttle service. Lucky's Bar & Grille, for example, offers free rides to the Kohl Center.
Parking/sports schedule information
Apparel/Badger Gear Stores
Bucky's Locker Room, 601 W. Dayton St. (Kohl Center), 608-256-5645.; 1440 Monroe St. (Camp Randall). 608-256-9499. www.buckyslockerroom.com
Name of the Game, 631 State St., (608) 251-8998.
Steve and Barry's University Sportswear, 636 State St., (608) 286-1466. www.steveandbarrys.com
The University Book Store, 711 State St. (608) 257-3784. www.uwbookstore.com
Blue Moon Bar & Grill, 2535 University Ave. (608) 233-0441. www.bluemoonbar.com.
The Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co. (three locations): 123 E. Doty St. (608) 284-0000 (downtown); 2980 Cahill Main. (608) 442-9000 (Fitchburg); 357 Price Pl. (608) 661-9400. (near west side). www.greatdanepub.com
Mickie's Dairy Bar, 1511 Monroe St. (608) 256-9476.
The Nitty Gritty, 223 N. Frances St., (608) 251-2521 (downtown/campus); 1021 N. Gammon Rd. (608) 833-6489 (west side). www.nittygrittybirthdayplace.com
The Old Fashioned, 23 N. Pinckney St. (608) 310-4545. www.theoldfashioned.com