Things to Do in Madison


Welcome to Madison

State Street in Summer-Photo by Jeff Miller, UW-Madison

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 Cesar Pelli designed Overture Center for the Arts, located on the 200-block of State Street, was a $205,000,000 gift to the city from Madison businessman Jerry Frautschi.  The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art is located in the Overture Center for the Arts.  The Wisconsin Historical Museum, the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, and the Madison Children’s Museum are all located on the corner where State Street meets the Capitol Square.

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.

Bike rentals are available one block east of Monona Terrace along the lower level lakefront bike path at Machinery Row Bicycles.  Rent a bike, helmet and lock, and be sure to grab a cycling map on your way out the door. For additional information about cycling in Madison visit: Bicycling in Madison.

Take a guided tour of historic Madison.  Popular stops include the Wisconsin State Capitol, the Cesar Pelli-designed Overture Center for the Performing Arts, Frank Lloyd Wright's First Unitarian Society, the University of Wisconsin's extraordinary lakeside campus, and Mansion Hill.  Customize your tour by choosing to walk or ride.  Group and private tours available.

Tours of the Wisconsin State Capitol are free and open to the public.  Tours start at the information desk and are offered Monday - Friday: 9:00, 10:00, 11:00 am,1:00, 2:00, 3:00, 4:00 pm, Saturdays at 9:00, 10:00, 11:00 am,1:00, 2:00, and 3:00 pm, and Sundays at 1:00, 2:00, and 3:00 pm.

The University of Wisconsin is one of the finest universities in the United States and one of the largest with over 40,000 students. Here are a few ideas for exploring campus and the lakeshore.  For many more ideas, please visit the Visitor & Information Programs page.

A few activities of special interest to children…

The Henry Vilas Zoo is free and open daily from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm. 

For additional information, please call (608) 266-4733 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) 262-2399 or visit the museum website.

The Madison Children’s Museum is located at the top of State Street and is open Monday-Friday 9:00 am - 4:00 pm, Saturday 9:00 am - 5:00 pm, and  Sunday noon - 5:00 pm.  Admission is $5 per person for adults and kids.  Admission is free the first Sunday of every month.  For more information, call (608) 256-6445 or visit the museum website.

If you have questions regarding specific intererests while you are visiting Madison feel free to contact:

Deb Curry at or (608) 890-1309.