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WHAT'S HOT IN MADISON, WISCONSIN

Frequently named one of the nation's finest communities in which to live, work and play, Madison is anything but your typical Midwestern burg. It is extremely cosmopolitan for a small city, which is why it gets our vote as a great place to watch for emerging trends. Forget the stereotype of beer-guzzling, bratwurst-eating, cheese-making Wisconsinites and let us introduce you to the interests of today's Madison residents.

MUST-HAVE ACCESSORY: HYBRID BIKE

Because Madison has been recognized by Bicycling magazine as one of the nation's most bike-friendly towns, it's no wonder why a design that merges the characteristics of a rugged mountain bike with those of a speedy city bike is a must-have here. The functionality of the hybrid bike allows residents to weave in and out of downtown traffic during the week and to enjoy a leisurely ride over miles of local bike paths on the weekend. Those in search of pedal-powered craft will have no trouble finding it: Leading bike manufacturer Trek has its world headquarters just outside of town and says that a majority of the bikes sold in Madison are hybrids.

FAVORITE INDULGENCE: BABCOCK ICE CREAM

For almost a century, the University of Wisconsin's College of Agricultural and Life Sciences has been producing some of the most sought after dairy products in the area, the most popular of which are its gourmet ice creams. Babcock Ice Cream (named after the Babcock Hall dairy plant where it's made) uses all natural ingredients and comes in 70 different flavors. What more could you expect from America's Dairyland?

HOME AWAY FROM HOME: ANCORA CAF

Nine years ago, husband and wife entrepreneurs Sue and George Krug opened up the first Ancora Caf in the Historic King Street district of Madison, where they not only served up tasty coffee drinks but also roasted beans on the premises. The roaster has since been moved to another location, and in its place is a welcoming fireplace, giving the shop a cozy, living room-like feel.

BEST FISH FRY: ST. PETER'S CHURCH

A little-known fact about Madison is the popularity of the local Friday fish fry where residents gather to feast on deep-fried fish, accompanied by fries and coleslaw. Especially popular are the fish fries hosted by St. Peter's Church in the Madison suburb of Ashton. No longer limited to the Catholic Lenten period, St. Peter's parishioners hold a fish fry anytime they need to raise funds for their private grade school or to retouch murals. Madison resident Brian Howell says: The fish fry at St. Peter's is phenomenal. And they sell beer at stations along the way, so you can sip and chat as the line moves slowly to the dining room. Classic Wisconsin.

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