Activities and Attractions in Madison, WI
As spring breathes new life into the world around us, venture to Madison to enjoy some of the city’s best annual events and attractions.
One must-see is the Dane County Farmers' Market, which will be outside the Capitol Square once again beginning April 18. It’s the nation’s largest producers-only market where you’ll find the best vegetables, flowers, cheeses, meats and more. Take the Capitol Tour while you’re downtown or shop and dine your way down State Street.
Our events calendar includes annual festivals that can only be found in Madison! The Wisconsin Film Festival presents 150 films in seven theaters over eight days in April and Craft Beer Week celebrates the state’s finest brews. The world’s largest Brat Fest takes place every Memorial Day weekend and is a great event for music and food lovers. This year, the fun includes free shuttle rides to the Henry Vilas Zoo, home to the new Artic Passage exhibit.
Bike around Madison—home to one of the most widespread bike trail systems in the United States. Rent a bike at one of Madison B-cycle’s 39 stations, which makes it quick and easy to get around Madison. Machinery Row Bicycles and Budget Bicycle Center are also equipped with rentals and maps.
Run or hike through the 200 miles of trails that wind through the UW Arboretum or stroll through 16 acres of stunning landscapes at Olbrich Botanical Gardens. Madison’s 260 parks also offer plenty for visitors. Warner Park hosts many events and festivals, as well as an off-leash dog park, beach and boat launch. If you’re interested in racing, there are also plenty of opportunities to become a participant in local races; check out our sports calendar to learn more.
Madison’s five lakes are one of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors, and it’s easy to rent a boat and cruise through Madison’s waterways. Or, try a new sport—Madison was recently ranked as one of the best places to try stand-up paddle boarding—by renting through Brittingham Boats or Paddleboard Specialists.
If you love lake views, dine at one of our memorable waterfront restaurants. Monona Terrace is a great spot to grab a bite to eat and features the rooftop restaurant Lake Vista Café, which overlooks Lake Monona. And the Memorial Union Terrace, situated on the shores of Lake Mendota, is popular with UW-Madison students and locals alike.
It’s not just flowers that bloom in spring. Watch your kids blossom as they learn through hands-on activities at Madison’s best family attractions, such as the free Henry Vilas Zoo or the Madison Children’s Museum, where you can make a discovery, make a mess—or even a brand-new friend! If you’re a spectator sports kind of family, catch a Madison Mallards baseball game. Games include family-friendly activities such as a zip-lining mascot and giant beach ball toss.
State Street plays host a variety of local shops and is a pedestrian-only thoroughfare. Add on a visit to a nearby museum or art exhibit and your day’s complete! Greenway Station Shopping Center, Hilldale Shopping Center and Johnson Creek Premium Outlets are all outdoor shopping malls and feature name-brand stores.