While Olbrich Gardens (deservedly) often makes the list of top places to visit in the Madison area, the revitalized Garver Feed Mill nearby is worth checking out for a variety of kid and parent opportunities.
In addition to proximity to the gardens, it’s right off the Capital City bike path. It’s also an easy walk/bike/stroller ride down the street from the beach and biergarten in the summer, making it a fun stop along a big ride and a great place to see pre/post other outdoor activities.
It’s across the street from the Olbrich sledding hill, so we’ve gone to warmup in the winter after sledding and playing on the lake with a drink from Ledger Coffee (and hot chocolate).
It’s across the bike path from “pink park” by Olbrich, making it a great way to extend a playdate or meetup. We’ve held soccer practice in the large green space by the park and then gone to Garver for a team pizza dinner – which was doable even on a weeknight.
Food and activity
Ian’s Pizza is the main food option, which works great for my kids, and the unique toppings and creative salad options (or build your own) allow more interesting parent options than other fast-food type places. Plus they have a pretty good beer selection and is connected to Calliope ice cream for a treat.
Ian’s has booths and high tables with stools indoors. Outside has a mix of tables, benches, and green space to crawl around and explore. Indoors also has a big space – and with a large lounge area parents can grab some fun drinks while the kids run around (inside or out), and every time we’ve gone there are parents holding infants on the comfy couches.
My kids are a little older and eat quick. They then want to play, so I’m a big fan of open spaces like the outdoor area at Garver with easy visibility, no traffic, and few ways to get hurt while parents get some time to actually talk. If you’re really ambitious, treat yourself with Kosa Ayurvedic Spa or Perennial Yoga!
Garver also hosts regular and special events. Get a jump on produce and samples at the late winter farmer’s market and check back for regular public events with music, drinks, and specials like the recently hosted a “craftacular.” Speaking of crafts, my kids are into arts and have loved the classes at the Glitter Workshop (we did acrylic painting) and exploring the store to see what others have made.