Situated on an isthmus between Lakes Mendota and Monona, Madison is a charming and picturesque city with lots to offer – five lakes, 200 parks, miles of bicycle and foot paths, one of the loveliest university campuses in the country, great dining and entertainment, and a stimulating cultural and recreational environment.
Here are a few highlights:
- State Street links the University of Wisconsin campus with the Capitol Square. A walk up State Street offers a wide variety of ethnic restaurants, coffeehouses, and shops.
- The fabulous Saturday Morning Dane County Farmers’ Market is held May through October, around the Capitol Square. Hours are 6:00 am – 2:00 pm. The considerably smaller Wednesday Farmers’ Market is located on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, located on the southeast side of the Capitol (in front of the Monona Terrace), and is open Wednesdays from 8:30 am – 2:00 pm, May through October.
- Rent a bicycle and explore the city neighborhoods, or one of Madison’s many scenic bike paths. Madison B-Cycle is an urban bike sharing program with over 35 active stations throughout the Madison area. Visit their website for station locations and information: http://madison.bcycle.com.
- Tours of the Wisconsin State Capitol are free and open to the public. Tours start at the information desk and are offered hourly, except at noon, Monday – Friday: 9:00 am – 4:00 pm, Saturdays at 9:00 am – 3:00 pm, and Sundays at 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm.
A few activities of special interest to children…
The Henry Vilas Zoo is free and open daily from 9:30 am– 5:00 pm.
For additional information, please call (608) 266-4732 or visit their website.
The Geology Museum, located on the University of Wisconsin campus, offers self-guided and guided tours. The museum is open M-F 8:30 am– 4:30 pm, and Saturday’s from 9:00 am -1:00 pm For more information, call (608) 262-1412 or visit the museum website.
The Madison Children’s Museum is located at the top of State Street and is open Monday-Sunday, 9:30 am – 5:00 pm. Admission is $7.95 per person for adults and kids. For more information, call (608) 256-6445 or visit the museum website.
Dining in Madison
The Discovery Building is dedicated to helping the University of Wisconsin – Madison campus and community explore new ways to conduct and share research and creative ideas. The first floor is open to the public and offers many public events, exhibits and dining.
Madison Science Museum
The Madison Science Museum focuses on Wisconsin’s unique history and continuous success as an innovative center of science, engineering, and biotechnology. Admission is free.
Join the Wednesday Farmer’s Market on Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd, near Monona Terrace as dozens of vendors bring fresh produce , flowers and baked goods to downtown. Market hours are 8:30am – 2:00pm.
UW Madison Memorial Union Terrace
Grab a chair and soak up the sun on the historic Memorial Union Terrace. The Terrace is a favorite spot for UW students, faculty, staff, Union members and anyone else looking to enjoy a sunny day or beautiful evening in the spring, summer or fall. Visit the MU website to see what’s happening.
Monroe is all about cheese. The art and business of making cheese has kept the city thriving for more than 100 years. Local cheese factories welcome visitors with samples and retail sales. You can pair your favorite cheeses with a local brew; the town’s Minhas Craft Brewery, founded in 1845, is the oldest continually operated brewery in the Midwest producing the smooth lagers, ales and bock beers of the Berghoff label.
Downtown, the Green County Courthouse, an imposing Romanesque-style building dating from 1891 with a 120-foot clock tower, anchors Monroe’s town square. Round out your tour with visits to Turner Hall, the Historic Cheesemaking Center, and the Monroe Arts Center. Monroe is located 42 miles southwest of Madison.
The town of Paoli , situated along the Sugar River, is home to a variety of shops, restaurants, and galleries. Located approximately 14 miles (a 30 minute drive) from Madison.
Mt Horeb, WI
Plan a day trip to discover our many hidden treasures including casual cafes, gourmet restaurants, bakeries, bike trails and much more. Located approximately 20 miles ( 40 minute drive) from Madison.
Spring Green, WI
Situated on the banks of the Wisconsin River, Spring Green offers an abundance of attractions including American Players Theater, Frank Lloyd Wright Visitor Center, Taliesin, House on the Rock, restaurants, shops and galleries. Located approximately 40 miles ( 60 minute drive) from Madison.
Wisconsin Dells, WI
“The Waterpark Capital of the World!”. Wisconsin Dells, situated on the Wisconsin River offers live entertainment, hiking, boating, a variety of dining options and of course, waterparks! Located approximately 53 miles ( 60 minute drive) from Madison.
New Glarus, WI
Located 25 miles from Madison, New Glarus was settled in 1845 by Swiss immigrants. This picturesque community is a thriving showcase of Swiss heritage, architecture, customs and cuisine. New Glarus hosts numerous festivals throughout the year and offers a wide range of shopping, dining and outdoors attractions.
Devil’s Lake State Park: Baraboo, WI
Devil’s Lake State Park is located 48 miles northwest of Madison. Enjoy lake-shore picnic areas, sandy swimming beaches and 29 miles of hiking trails. Devil’s Lake is a beautiful year-round park with intriguing natural history along the 1,000-mile Ice Age National Scenic Trail.
Mineral Point, WI
Mineral Point – visit us and experience small town life with a creative flair. We are a community of makers of all kinds, from painters and sculptors to farmers and foodies. The arts and history are part of our everyday lives, and we love sharing all of that with you. Mineral Point is located 52 miles southwest of Madison.
Located just 80 miles to the east of Madison, Milwaukee offers visitors the one-of-a-kind attractions that make a trip memorable, including the world’s only Harley – Davidson Museum, the Milwaukee Public Market, and the soaring wings of the acclaimed Milwaukee Art Museum. Milwaukee is home to vibrant neighborhoods including the historic Third Ward, Brady Street and East Town.
Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
Located 99 miles northeast of Madison, Elkhart Lake is a charming resort community offering many recreation, shopping and dining experiences.
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Located 73 miles to the southeast of Madison, Lake Geneva offers visitors a variety of outdoor activities including hiking and boating, as well as unique shops and restaurants.
For those interested in exploring a little more of America, Madison is ideally located for sightseeing.
Chicago, Illinois is located 147 miles to the southeast of Madison, on the shores of Lake Michigan. Minneapolis, Minnesota is located 272 miles from Madison. Rental cars are available at Dane County Regional Airport and Badger Bus provides commuter bus service from the UW Madison campus to both destinations.