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26 Jun 2019   ·   4

Free Things To Do in Madison, Wisconsin

Looking for free things to do in Madison, Wisconsin? Here are some places our family visited and did on a recent road trip there.

Want more free and cheap road trip ideas? Check out my 14-day series on our East Coast Road Trip.

An Impromptu Road Trip to 3 States

A few weeks ago, we took a sort of impromptu road trip to Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa. If you’ve been following along here, you know our family goal to visit all 50 states and 7 continents by the time Kathrynne is 18 (she’s currently 14 and before this trip, we had 16 states and 5 continents to go).

We only had 5 days to hit the 3 states, so we decided to just pick one city to focus on in each state. After looking at the map, we looked at routes, and we ended up picking Madison, WI, Minneapolis, MN, and Des Moines, IA.

We had such a fun time in Madison and Minneapolis that I wanted to devote an entire post to each city to share photos and some of free and cheap things we did in Madison, WI and Minneapolis, MN. (Note: It was pouring rain and cold the whole time we were in Iowa so we didn’t end up getting to do much there. We’ll have to go back!)

Free Things to Do In Madison, Wisconsin

Jesse and I had both been to Wisconsin before many years ago, but the kids had never been. And none of us had ever been to Madison.

I did what I often do when we visit a new area and asked on Facebook and Instagram for your best suggestions of free and frugal things to do. You all give the best recommendations! I went through all of them and picked the top places that were suggested over and over again.

And here’s what we ended up doing…

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

First off, we went to the Olbrich Botanical Gardens. Many of you had suggested this and you were so right.

The gardens were gorgeous! (It was also a completely beautiful day, which made the experience that much better!)

Admission to the outdoor gardens is completely FREE! There are 16 acres of gardens to walk through including:

  • A Thai Pavilion and Garden (This Thai Pavilion is the only one in the continental United States and the only one outside of Thailand surrounded by a garden.)
  • Rose Garden
  • Perennial Garden
  • Sunken Garden
  • Herb Garden

We loved the Rose Garden and the Herb Garden the best. They had a sundial in the Rose Garden that the kids had fun trying to read.

We also found a nest of baby birds! They seemed crazy hungry (aren’t baby birds always hungry, though??) and we waited awhile to see if the mama bird would come back.

We were afraid that she might dive bomb us if we got too close so we had someone watch out for her while I took a picture and video. 🙂

There is also an indoor Tropical Conservatory that costs $2 per person for admission. It is probably fantastic, but we were happy to just visit the free gardens!

Ian’s Pizza

I asked for restaurant recommendations and this Ian’s Pizza was one you all recommended over and over again. And you were again correct — it was delicious and had such a fun vibe!

Ian’s Pizza sells a variety of unique pizzas — by the slice. Or, you can order a full pizza and customize it.

We ordered a large pizza that was half Mac & Cheese (it was delicious!) and half Macadilla Killa. Plus, we ordered a side of 9 breadsticks. Our total was around $25 and this was more than enough to fill us all up (plus we took some leftovers back to the hotel!)

Excitement Outside the Capitol Building

We had parked close to the capitol building (parking was free on the weekends), so after a very late afternoon lunch, we went to explore the capitol. It’s free and open to the public, too.

We were detoured from visiting the capitol building by two ambulances and a lot of police cars with sirens blaring. They all pulled up up at a bus stop right outside the capitol building. We weren’t sure what happened, but it appeared maybe two guys had gotten into a fight and gotten hurt.

I’ve never seen something like that up so close and I felt a little weird just watching the whole thing, but it was also kind of fascinating to see it all go down, too.

(I don’t know that fascinating is the right word because these were people’s lives we are talking about. However, it felt like a scene from a movie or something! Gratefully, it appeared like both men were going to be okay and they both were conscious and breathing on their own when they were put on the ambulances and taken to the hospital.)

Wisconsin State Capitol Building

After that commotion outside the capitol, we finally made it inside. It was pretty incredible — as most capitol buildings seem to be! We had heard that there was a cool observation deck on the 6th floor so we went about figuring out how to get to that.

We walked up a bunch of stairs and tried multiple elevators (some only went to certain floors, etc.) I couldn’t believe they just let you explore like this!

We finally asked the security guard at the front desk how to get up to the top. It was then that we found out that they don’t let anyone up through the special elevator 30 minutes before closing! We had literally walked in the door 29 minutes before the building closes.

Oh well! At least we had quite a fun time trying to find it! 🙂

Henry Vilas Zoo

We then headed to the Henry Vilas Zoo — a FREE zoo in Madison, Wisconsin. I honestly couldn’t believe it.

It’s small and it was pretty crowded, but you can’t beat the price point of free! And it far exceeded my expectations of what a free zoo would be!

To my knowledge, I don’t ever recall actually seeing a real badger. So that was cool to see!

Our favorite exhibit, by far, was the Polar Bear exhibit. Not only cannot ever remember seeing a Polar Bear, this guy was in rare form and showing off for us!

Vilas Park

Right outside the zoo was the Vilas Park beach. It would be a fun place to take a picnic or to swim in. It was also free and open to the public.

We didn’t have bathing suits on, but Silas and Kathrynne still got into the water for a bit!

The Cheese Chalet

Many people had told me we couldn’t come to Wisconsin without getting cheese curds. So we stopped at The Cheese Chalet on the way out of Madison to pick some up.

They had so many different kinds of cheese!

I wasn’t sure of the best kind of cheese curds to get (I forgot to ask you all about that!), so I just played it safe and went with marbled!


I had no idea the “cult following” that Culver’s has until I asked where we should eat in Madison. I learned that there will be one answer and one answer only for that question: Culver’s!

We actually have a Culver’s in our area, but I think Jesse has only taken the kids one time and that was a few years ago. I thought it was just a typical fast food place, but I was actually pretty impressed with it!

We each got to pick one treat (mine was the flavor of the day with double whipped cream — yum!). Needless to say, I’m pretty sure we will be back to Culver’s soon!

What other suggestions do you have for free or cheap things to do in Madison, Wisconsin? Tell us in the comments!

26 Jun 2019   ·   1

Reader Tip: Stretch Your Gift Budget with the Clearance Aisle

The following reader tip was submitted from Krystal of Rebel With A Good Cause:

Sometimes the clearance aisle is a forgotten treasure trove — I always keep a small amount of the budget to use in this aisle!

It does take a bit more planning to shop clearance items, for instance, I think about stocking stuffers all year long and keep a box in the closet just for these items (which I then get out during the holidays). I buy things like Legos, puzzles, fun jewelry, jump ropes, and slime that can be put be put into a stocking or as part of a larger gift. The stockings end up being unique during the holidays and are always a big hit.

After Easter, our clearance aisle had baby animal board books for $0.10 each! I have 3 coworkers who are currently expecting and these board books will make great baby gifts. I will add a new blanket and probably check for a nice second-hand sleeper. The whole gift will cost less than $10 and I will be able to bless them more than if I went straight to the baby section.

Our clearance section often has really fun candy bouquets after holidays too — these make great party gifts (this year I got them for $0.09 each!!!) You can pair a candy bouquet with other clearance items like bath bombs or slime kits and have a perfect gift for a middle schooler.

You can’t always predict what will be on the clearance aisle but with a little creativity, you can put together some fantastic (and frugal) gifts!

Krystal Strickland is a wife, mother, and nurse who enjoys blogging at Rebel With A Good Cause.

photo source

26 Jun 2019   ·   0

Extra 40% Off Sale Items at Tea Collection = RARE Discounts on Kids’ Clothing!!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

We almost never see these kind of discounts at Tea Collection!

Tea Collection is offering an extra 40% off sale items right now when you use coupon code SP19EOS40 at checkout. This makes for some really RARE discounts on kids’ Tea Collection clothing!

Tea Collection Boys Graphic Tees

You can get boys’ graphic tees as low as $7.17 (reg. $24.50)! There are lots of fun styles to choose from.

Girls Tea Collection Leggings

You can also get girls’ leggings as low as $7.77 (reg. $24.50)! Choose from all kinds of cute patterns.

girls Tea Collection dresses

You can even get girls’ dresses as low as $10.77 (reg. $26.50 – $42.50)! There are tons of different styles and colors to choose from.

Tea Collection clothing is SO cute and such good quality, but it’s super rare to see discounts like this!

The coupon code SP19EOS40 is valid through July 5, 2019.

Go here to shop the Tea Collection Sale.

26 Jun 2019   ·   0
hymn and bible canvas prints

Large Bible and Hymn Canvas Prints for just $3.87 + shipping!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

The popular deal on these canvas prints is back!

hymn and bible canvas prints

Jane has these Large Bible and Hymn Canvas Prints for just $3.87 + shipping right now!

Choose from over 80 different designs in sizes 8×10, 11×14, or 12×16.

Shipping is $3.67 for the first print, and then $0.63 for each additional print shipped within the same order.

Psst! We love Jane! Looking for other great Jane deals? Check out our custom Jane page for more of our hand-picked favorite deals each day!

26 Jun 2019   ·   0

*HOT* Columbia Outerwear Deals!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

You can grab some great deals on Columbia Outerwear right now!

men's inner limits jackets

Through July 2nd, you can get some really nice discounts on Columbia outerwear for the whole family! Here are some of the best deals you can get…

Get this Men’s Inner Limits Jacket for just $49.99 (reg. $110). Choose from four colors.

women's western ridge half zip jacket

Get this Women’s Western Ridge Half Zip Jacket for just $19.99 (reg. $34.99). Choose from three colors.

girls hayden summit hybrid hoodie

Get this Girls’ Hayden Summit Hybrid Hoodie for just $24.90 (reg. $50).

men's western ridge full zip jacket

Get this Men’s Western Ridge Full Zip Jacket for just $34.99 (reg. $80). Choose from five colors.

And shipping is FREE if you’re a Columbia Rewards Member (it’s free to sign up)!

Valid through July 2, 2019. But be sure to shop right away, because styles and sizes are selling out quickly!

26 Jun 2019   ·   0
American Eagle Jeans

American Eagle: Men’s and Women’s Jeans only $19.99!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Wow! This is a fantastic price for American Eagle jeans!

American Eagle Jeans

Right now, American Eagle is offering Men’s & Women’s Jeans on clearance for just $19.99 (regularly $39.95+)! No promo code needed.

This is such a great price for this brand.

Shipping is free on orders over $50.

Thanks, Hip2Save!

26 Jun 2019   ·   0
Gel Pens Set

Gel Pens 16-Count Set for just $5.99!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Love gel pens? Don’t miss this fun deal!

Gel Pens Set

Amazon has this 16-count set of Gel Pens for just $5.99 right now — the lowest price on record!

This is a fun and frugal gift idea for someone who loves office supplies or coloring. 🙂

Sign up for a free trial of Amazon Prime to get free 2-day shipping. And don’t forget you can sign up for Swagbucks to earn free gift cards to use on deals on Amazon.

Thanks, Passionate Penny Pincher!

26 Jun 2019   ·   6
Aromatherapy Necklaces

Aromatherapy Necklaces for just $4.99 shipped!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Wow! This is such a great deal on an Aromatherapy Necklace!

aromatherapy diffuser necklaces

Jane currently has these Aromatherapy Necklaces for just $4.99 shipped! Choose from over 25 different styles (but hurry — they’re selling out fast!).

This is such a fun gift idea for someone who loves their essential oils!!

And these necklaces get GREAT reviews.

Psst! We love Jane! Looking for other great Jane deals? Check out our custom Jane page for more of our hand-picked favorite deals each day!

26 Jun 2019   ·   0
Creamy Snickers Bars

Two FREE Snickers Bars at Walgreens Starting July 7th (Print Your Coupons Now!)

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

You’ll be able to get FREE Snickers Bars at Walgreens starting July 7th, but you’ll want to go ahead and print your coupons now!

Creamy Snickers Bars

Starting July 7th, you’ll be able to get FREE Snickers Bars at Walgreens:

Snickers Bars – 2 for $1
Use 2 $0.50/1 printables
FREE after coupons

Just be sure to print your coupons now before they’re gone!

Thanks, Freebie Shark!

26 Jun 2019   ·   0
Queen Duvet Cover Set

Queen 3-Piece Duvet Cover Set for just $16.19!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

This is a great deal on a Duvet Cover Set!

Queen Duvet Cover Set

Amazon has this Queen 3-Piece Duvet Cover Set for just $16.19 when you use coupon code ACGKID4C at checkout.

This is a great deal on a duvet set, and it gets really great reviews!

Sign up for a free trial of Amazon Prime to get free 2-day shipping. And don’t forget you can sign up for Swagbucks to earn free gift cards to use on deals on Amazon.

Thanks, Kosher On A Budget!

26 Jun 2019   ·   0
Sam's Club Photo Prints

50 FREE Photo Prints at Sam’s Club!

If you’re a Sam’s Club member, don’t miss this opportunity for 50 FREE photo prints!

Sam's Club Photo Prints

If you’re a Sam’s Club member, you can currently get 50 FREE photo prints!

Just stop by the Freeosk next time you’re in-store and scan your card to have a unique promo code emailed to you for your free photo prints!

Not a Sam’s Club member yet? Now is a great time to sign up for a membership with this HOT deal!!

Thanks, Hip2Save!

26 Jun 2019   ·   0
French Toast Sticks at Sonic

Sonic: $0.99 French Toast Sticks Every Morning This Week!

Looking for cheap breakfast? Stop by Sonic for French Toast Sticks this week!

French Toast Sticks at Sonic

Sonic is offering $0.99 French Toast Sticks every morning before 11 a.m. through the end of June. Yum!!

You’ll need to text GREAT to number 876642 to get this deal. When ordering in person, you’ll need to mention this deal or show the text on your phone.

If you’re ordering online, just enter code STICKS at checkout to get this deal.

Valid through June 30, 2019.

Psst! Don’t forget about half-price shakes every night after 8 p.m. all summer long!

Thanks, Passionate Penny Pincher!

25 Jun 2019   ·   4

For Those Who Struggle With Anxiety

Do you struggle with anxiety? Does your spouse or someone close to you struggle with anxiety? In this episode, Jesse shares really openly about his battles with anxiety and what has helped him not live so paralyzed in fear.

Missed previous episodes of The Crystal Paine show? You can listen to them here.

Struggling With Anxiety?

A few months ago, I did an Instagram Live on anxiety where I talked about what to say to someone who struggles with anxiety.

In that video, I opened up about walking with Jesse through his anxiety and the lessons that I’ve learned through it. After I did that video, I got a lot of feedback and followup questions and some requests for us to do a podcast dedicated to the topic.

I asked Jesse if he’d be willing to record a podcast episode with me on the topic — and he said yes!

Don’t miss this week’s really honest episode on anxiety. Jesse shares candidly about all the sleepless nights and doctor’s visits and tests he’s had and what has helped him to process through his anxiety and not live life paralyzed in fear.

If you’ve ever battled anxiety or you are close to someone who does, I hope Jesse’s story and honesty will really encourage you.

In This Episode:

[00:26] – Welcome back to the Traveling Diaries of the Paine family! I start by giving some life updates and sharing some funny . and rather crazy stories from the past few days.

[12:05] – Today, Jesse is opening up about his struggles with anxiety. His anxiety has manifested itself through fear of storms, health-related anxiety, and travel anxiety. We talk about how some of this was likely related to trauma from his childhood.

[21:56] – What do you say to someone who is struggling with anxiety? It was hard to know how to respond when Jesse would spin out with health-related stress. Should I have compassion or should I tell him it’s anxiety? We’ve spent a lot of money on health-related tests and Jesse has spent hours upon hours and sleepless nights Googling his health conditions.

[26:48] – We chat about what not to say to someone with anxiety and how you need to address the root of the anxiety, not just the surface manifestation. Also, Jesse shares what has helped him stop being so controlled by anxiety. It’s simple, but it’s made such a difference. 

[36:12] – Not all anxiety is created equal! Make sure to treat your anxiety holistically.

[39:58] – Acknowledging and healing our own anxiety has helped us to better parent by recognizing anxiety triggers and giving our kids the space to express their emotions and feelings.

Links and Resources:

How to Listen to The Crystal Paine Show

The podcast is available on iTunesAndroidStitcher, and Spotify. You can listen online through the direct player we’ll include in the show notes of each episode. OR, a much easier way to listen is by subscribing to the podcast through a free podcast app on your phone. (Find instructions for how to subscribe to a podcast here.)

Ready to dive in and listen? Hit the player above or search for “The Crystal Paine Show” on your favorite podcast app.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we may receive a small commission — at no additional cost to you. Thank you so much for your support!

25 Jun 2019   ·   0

Adidas Women’s Questar Flow Shoes for just $39.99 shipped!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

This is a great deal on Adidas Women’s Shoes!

Academy Sports has these Adidas Women’s Questar Flow Shoes for just $39.99 shipped right now!

These are regularly $69.99, so this is a really great deal!

There are five colors to choose from, but hurry — sizes are going fast!

Thanks, Passionate Penny Pincher!