October 2011

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playAround Town in Monona Explore a familiar borough in a whole new way Seasonal Fun As the air becomes chilly, embrace the outdoors at Looking across Lake Monona from the northern stretch of John Nolen Drive, the town of Monona seems to blend right into the skyline. But venture to the other side of the lake and down the tree-lined streets of Monona Drive, you'll fi nd a busy urban enclave wholly distinct from its neighbors. If you want to see Monona at its best, do what locals have for centuries—stay close to the water. With its long stretches of busy Monona's Aldo Leopold Nature Center's Fall Fest on Oct. 28. Bring your little creatures and enjoy spooky activities such as nighttime nature hikes. Find details at thoroughfares, you'd never guess the town's passion for nautical living goes back 2,000 years when the cobalt waters of Lake Monona invited Native Americans to settle along its sandy shores. Th ese days, Monona's culture con- tinues to thrive around the banks of Squaw and Monona Bays. Whether you love to paddle, coast or cast in the water, exploring Monona's four winding miles of lakefront is still one of the most scenic ways to explore the town, especially during the milder (and more colorful) fall season. Push a kayak or canoe off a dock on the south side of town and meander through lily pads and tall grass for a relaxing jaunt through the city's waterways. If you're a novice (or just looking for some pointers), local paddling outfi tters offer lessons well into the fall. Even for those who prefer to keep their feet dry, Monona offers a host of natural getaways that make for a welcoming change of pace. Hop on the Monona Sce- nic Bike Route and follow the rolling hills for glimpses of glinting lake water, histor- ic homes and the company of other out- door enthusiasts. Local hotspots, ranging from cozy coffee shops to restaurants, boast lake views and a new perspective on the Madison skyline. In a nod to the city's Native American roots, Monona means "beautiful" in Chip- pewa, a fi tting name for a family-friendly place with scenic spaces you'll love coast- ing through. —Kelsey Bewick October 2011 65 Photo by Shanna Wolf

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