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Things to do in Madison

20 contributors

The top 10 attractions in Madison

Historical Monuments in Madison
Wisconsin State Capitol
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The Wisconsin State Capitol hosts both legislative chambers, along with the Wisconsin Supreme Court and the Office of the Governor. Completed in 1917, it's the 5th building to serve as capitol in Wisconsin. The surrounding streets offer many restaurants and shops. The Wisconsin State Capitol is the tallest building in Madison. They started building it in 1906 and finished in 1917. They used 43 types of stone from 6 countries and 8 states. The bronze statue on top was sculpted in 1920. In total in cost $7.25 million. It's 1 metre lower than the Capitol in Washington DC.
Concerts in Madison
Capitol Gardens
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In August Madison puts on two weeks of free outdoor concerts on the Capitol grounds. Most people bring a well-stocked picnic and lay the tablecloth on the grass. Sit and enjoy the music. It is one of the few times when nobody will tell you off if you drink a good bottle of wine in public.
Of Touristic Interest in Madison
Memorial Union
The University of Wisconsin-Madison Memorial Union Terrace is the spot to hang out when the weather is nice. The Terrace is on the huge University of Wisconsin-Madison campus behind the beautiful Memorial Union. At the Terrace you can purchase glasses or pitchers of local Wisconsin beers, popcorn, and snacks. The Terrace, which has bright yellow, orange, and green metal chairs has views of Lake Mendota. In the summer months you can enjoy live music several times per week or movies outside on a big screen on Mondays. In the wintertime you can head inside the Memorial Union and enjoy the cozy atmosphere at Der Rathskeller.
Markets in Madison
Dane County Farmers' Market
The Dane County Farmers’ Market, called the Capital Square Farmers’ Market by locals, is located on the blocks around the Wisconsin State Capital building and takes place every Saturday morning during the warmer months. This farmers’ market is the largest producer-only farmers’ market in the United States. Because of the size of this farmers’ market prices are generally reasonable. Go hungry to the farmers’ market as you will find an abundance of local produce, coffee, honey, jams, pickles, and fresh baked goods including pies, scones, and pumpkin pastries. Be sure to try to the local favorite - hot, cheesy bread and take some to go.
Gardens in Madison
University of Wisconsin Arboretum
The University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum is 1,260 acres of trees, hiking trails, and ecological restoration projects that are run by University professors, students, and staff. The UW Arboretum was founded in 1932 and is now frequently used by the public as well as the university. The Arboretum trails are open from 7 am until 10 pm and several parking lots are open from sunrise until sunset. The Arboretum is a perfect place to get outside and enjoy a stroll through labeled rhododendron, pine, and other tree species, which makes for an educational afternoon. Wear your hiking boots to take advantage of the trails, or bring a blanket and spend the day relaxing in the shade.
Streets in Madison
State Street
Madison State Street is the perfect place to start your visit in Madison, as it leads from the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus to the State Capital Building. State Street is the main pedestrian street for shopping and eating out. On State Street you can find restaurants such as the Old Fashioned, Sunroom Café, and the Mediterranean Café and has shops such as Serrv, the Soap Opera, and Shoo. State Street also comes alive during events like the Freak Fest celebration in October, after every home football game, and after each Saturday Farmers Market. In recent years; however, State Street has become more dangerous in the evenings so it is best to visit during the day or in groups.
Zoos in Madison
Henry Vilas Zoo
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The Henry Vilas Zoo is a small but charming zoo in Madison, Wisconsin at, aside from the animals, has one unbeatable standout feature: it’s 100% free. Yup, free! You can go out with the entire family and spend a day marveling at the animal exhibits without the elevated entry fees. Despite its modest size (only around 28 acres), the zoo boasts a great variety of animals including large African mammals like giraffes, lions, and rhinos as well as some American favorites like grizzly bears, badgers, porcupines, and playful prairie dogs. They of course also have snakes, amphibians, bugs, bats, and everything in between! With the money you save on admission you can visit the snack bars and have everything you need for an entire day. Oh, and if you get tired there’s a large playground where you can let the kids run wild while you take a much-needed breather in the shade! Like many zoos around the country, Henry Vilas also has regular events ranging from favorites like Halloween celebrations at the zoo to workshops to learn about the animals or raise funds for new exhibits. All in all, it’s a lovely and surprisingly well-designed visit that I’d recommend to anyone in the Madison area.
Gardens in Madison
Eagle Heights Community Garden
The Eagle Heights Community Gardens is a community garden for the University of Wisconsin-Madison community to grow their own food in rented plots. The community gardens were established in 1962 and are incredibly popular among Madison residents. If you are visiting Madison in the summer and have an interest in cultures, agriculture, or community building activities you should stop by the gardens. As there are at least 60 different nationalities that have plots in the community gardens you'll see a wide variety of vegetables, fruit, and planting styles. This is a great spot to visit with families or to bring a picnic and relax.
Museums in Madison
Madison Children's Museum
The Madison Children’s Museum is one of those ideal children’s museums which not only shows exhibits of interest, but creates an interactive environment where children have actually have fun while the learn. In other words, a parent’s dream! There is an art studio where kids can try their hand at painting, an outdoor part where kids can play, a real-life log cabin where they can dress up and play at pioneers, a stunning rooftop garden complete with chickens and ponds, and a massive indoor area called the Widlernest where the little ones can do everything for get wet in a misty dome or cuddle up in a corner and read or nap. One of the best parts is that the museum isn't snooty and they really let kids be kids: there are places where they can paint on the walls or splash around in the water, for example. As you’d imagine, the museum also has lots of different day camps and activities during summer so make sure to check ahead and see if there’s anything going on while you’re in Madison. The museum costs around $8 for both kids and adults…a bit steep but well worth it for a full day of fun!
Museums in Madison
Chazen Museum of Art
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The Chazen Museum of Art is the official art museum of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and arguably the best art museum in the entire state (though there is some stiff competition from Milwaukee). The museum has a surprisingly rich collection of artists ranging from famous European artists like Joan Miro and Rodin to regional stars and works from areas as diverse as Japan and Russia. In fact, one of the most interesting exhibits at the museum is the stunning collection of 18th and 19th-century Japanese prints. One of the most surprising parts is the collection of early Mediterranean pottery and ancient Asian artifacts. The fact that you can see everything from Roman coins to regional artworks by Wisconsin’s up-and-comers makes the Chazen one of the richest and most varied museums around. Also, make sure to check ahead before your visit to see if there is a traveling exhibit or event planned. The museum has a great collection but also host temporary exhibits of famed collections, contemporary photos, or regional artworks. The museum also regularly hosts chamber music concerts and film screenings.

The best things to do in Madison

Things to do in Madison generally center around the region's biggest draw -- the University of Wisconsin. This town is famously liberal and quirky, and those traits define a lot of the best of what to do in Madison.

The museums and cultural places to visit in Madison creates a unique atmosphere. Highlights include the Overture Center for the Arts, Chazen Museum of Art, Madison Wisconsin Veterans Museum, and the Madison Children's Museum. The list of monuments and other attractions in Madison is long but worth seeking out even if you can just see a few. Top attractions include the Wisconsin State Capitol, Capitol Square, Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center, and the First Unitarian Meeting House of Madison. Once in the town ,you will see there are many more Madison attractions to visit.

There are many more things to do in Madison. And when
you're done with all the things to see in Madison for the day, you can relax in one of its beautiful parks. Strolling through the Allen Centennial Gardens, touring famous State Street, which is lined with bars, or watching the sun set on the Lake Monona shoreline, are all great Madison activities. As for more stuff to do in Madison, visit Henry Vilas Zoo, observe a log rolling challenge, or hike the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Search for what to do in Madison on minube to learn more about this great city.