About a three-hour drive from Chicago, Madison, the state's liberal-leaning capital and home to the University of Wisconsin, is worth the drive—assuming it's not the middle of winter. When the mercury rises, head north from the city along the shores of Lake Michigan. Be sure to stop along the way in Milwaukee for a visit to the Milwaukee Art Museum, designed by renowned architect Santiago Calatrava to resemble a ship setting sail. If the weather is too nice to go in the museum, stop off at the Milwaukee Public Market to stock up on gourmet picnic supplies and stroll the nearby white sands of Bradford Beach. After a beach picnic, head east for a little over an hour and you're in the leafy, academic paradise of Madison. In the summertime, Wisconsin's capital is one of the upper Midwest's best towns. Between the bustling Dane County Farmers' Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays at the capitol square to sipping local beers on the pre-war Memorial Union on the shores of Lake Mendota, Madison is both idyllic and unlike anywhere else in the country. Stroll State Street—which extends from the heart of campus to the capital building—for window shopping for everything from vintages clothes to fine art. Grab a coffee from Espresso Royale, with two locations on State Street, rent a bike through Madison B-cycle (the city's ride share program) and ride a few miles to the arboretum, a 1260-acre urban green place perfect for getting a dose of fresh air. Grab dinner at chef Tory Miller's Graze for farm-to-table cuisine or head down to Forequarter, one of the city's hottest new eatery's from the Underground Food Collective. Spend the night at the Mansion Hill Inn or the newly opened HotelRED, but before heading back to Chicago in the morning, take in brunch at the all-things-Wisconsin Old Fashioned for an authentic local meal or Mickies Dairy Bar for a massive breakfast fit for the football players who frequent this Madison classic.