Greater Madison is a great place to discover destinations that appeal to the young—and the young at heart!
PLACES TO SEE, FOR FREE
Looking for free family fun? Head to the Henry Vilas Zoo—one of the only admission-free zoos in the nation—featuring the new Arctic Passage exhibit that's home to seals as well as grizzly and polar bears! Or, for an equally educational experience, visit one of the nine Madison Public Library locations. The New Central Library downtown offers great galleries, events for kids and The Bubbler, hands-on, pop-up workshops on topics ranging from clothing design to dance.
Kids are also welcome at the American Family DreamBank, located on the Capitol Square and loaded with interactive tools, activities and weekly events. And you won't want to miss Kids in the Rotunda, a series of Saturday morning artistic programs that take place at Overture Center for the Arts. While downtown, grab a slice of mac 'n' cheese pizza at Ian's Pizza, voted Wisconsin's best pizza by the Food Network.
SEASONAL FUN FOR FAMILIES
There is no shortage of year-round activities for families in the Madison area. Many enjoy making plans to make a day of it and take a tour of the spectacular Cave of the Mounds,a 400-million-year-old cavern that is considered to be one of the most exceptional natural sites in the country. And at 50 degrees year-round, it is the perfect temperature all day, every day! Also worth a day trip is The House on the Rock Attraction in Spring Green, featuring the world's largest carousel, a 200-foot sea creature, automated music machines and many more collections.
Aldo Leopold Nature Center provides events and programming for children, such as scavenger hunts and fishing lessons—take a look at their calendar of events for upcoming event information. A stroll through the 16 acres of outdoor gardens at Olbrich Botanical Gardens is wonderful during the summer months. Visit the Thai Pavilion, the only one in the continental United States, and escape to the tropics when you step inside Olbrich's Bolz Conservatory. Another outdoor adventure can be found at the UW-Madison Arboretum, a nature lover's playground with 1,200 acres of prairies, woodlands, wetlands and gardens.
If you want water fun, spend the day on one of the area's five lakes or at one of 13 public beaches. Another fun way to get wet is with a visit to Noah's Ark Waterpark in nearby Wisconsin Dells, touted as America's Largest Waterpark. For active fun, check out Vitense Golfland, which features miniature golf, batting cages, an indoor arcade and a climbing wall. Rockin' Jump is a new option for active kids, the ultimate trampoline park for when your kids are bouncing off the walls!
Your little ones will love the Madison Children's Museum, featuring interactive exhibits and activities, and Studio, You Paint It Pottery, a walk-in studio that specializes in pottery painting and parties. If you're in Madison during a birthday, celebrate at one of three Nitty Gritty locations in town, featuring free soda and a "keep the memento" mug.
Our events calendar also features special events designed with kids in mind. Be sure to use the Advanced Search filters to quickly find events that are family-friendly and free!