Need tips for my trip to Madison

I can’t believe I’m leaving for Madison, Wisc. this week.

I remember booking the trip months ago, thinking, “Man, I’m planning ahead!”

But now it’s just a few days away — and while I’m stressing about getting all my work done before I get on that plane (and yes, it’s a United flight), I’m excited about going to a city I’ve never been to before.

Believe it or not, I’ve been to Wisconsin. When I was a graduate student at Northwestern University, I spent Thanksgiving with my classmate’s family just outside of Milwaukee. I immediately fell in love with the area — rolling hills, strawberry farms, actual apple trees. (We don’t have those in Hawaii!)

But Madison will be a whole new experience.

This charming college town of 233,000 people — 17,000 of which are Asian, just FYI — is home to museums, art galleries, breweries, farms, coffee shops, vintage bookstores, restaurants, casinos, hiking trails, even a few drive-in theaters.

For sure, I want to walk about the University of Wisconsin, where Derek is getting his Ph.D. I want to see all the places he haunts, from the campus coffee shop he frequents to the Wisconsin Historical Society (above) where he studies every weekend.

But I wouldn’t mind checking out the Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co.; touring the Cave of the Mounds, a popular and quite beautiful cave about 20 miles west of Madison; the Third Coast Surf Shop, your one-stop-shop for lake surfing; and — get this — the National Mustard Museum, where you can sample the world’s mustards.

See? Lots to do.

Anyone got any other suggestions for me?

I’ll be traveling to Madison, Chicago and Las Vegas on this two-week, whirlwind tour. Follow me on my blog, The Cat Dish, on Twitter (@thedailydish) and Facebook (/thecatdish).