Sometimes all a family thinks they need while traveling is a hotel pool. Luckily, when you visit Greater Madison there is much more to do! Keep reading to discover attractions, events and experiences that are uniquely Madison and 100 percent family-friendly.
Ask any local and they’ll tell you—there are certain Madison attractions at the top of every kid’s list. Here are the quintessential family fun stops, along with some quick tidbits to know when visiting:
Wisconsin State Capitol: Find the sixth floor observation deck for the best views of the city, or rub the Badger statue’s nose for good luck
Henry Vilas Zoo: The Artic Passage exhibit has amazing views the polar bears, plus the zoo is one of only a few admission-free zoos in the country
Madison Children’s Museum: Visit the Wildernest exhibit, an indoor play area built with sustainable materials
Dane County Farmers Market: The nation’s largest producer-only market in the U.S. wraps around the Capitol Square, and has everything from cucumbers to whoopee pies
If the kids (or you) need to let out some steam, find yourself outdoors in Madison! Residents are passionate about living life outside and the city is devoted to open space: there are 200 parks, 13 beaches and five lakes in the area.
Parks: Don’t discount parks in winter—many have sledding or skating available
Beaches: Put BB Clarke park on your to-do list: it has a sandy beach, raft with a diving board, and lifeguards
Lakes: Rent a kayak, paddleboard or canoe and explore on Mendota or Monona
UW Arboretum: More than 20 miles of trails in the middle of Madison—perfect for biking, hiking or snowshoeing
Olbrich Botanical Gardens: Kids love the tropical environment of the Bolz Conservatory
Vitense Golfland: All-day adventure, with three mini-golf courses, climbing wall, batting cages and more
From painting to bowling, there are numerous ways to have a ball indoors in Madison! Here are some engaging indoor options for families.
Bowl-A-Vard Lanes: Forty lanes of fun, plus lighter balls and bumper guards for the little ones
Rockin’ Jump: Go for the 30,000 square feet of trampolining, stay for the rock climbing wall
UW-Madison Union South: The student union is very family-friendly, and the Sett is the place to go for bowling, billiards and bouldering
Studio, You Paint it Pottery: After you’re done painting your masterpiece, the studio will fire it and mail it home
If you want to infuse the local culture into your family vacation, look no further than Madison’s arts offerings. Madison is a college town that understands that cultural connections start young.
Overture Center for the Arts: Kids love Kids in the Rotunda, a free theater program hosted on Saturdays, October through April
Wisconsin Historical Society: Each of the four floors share a different section of Wisconsin history
Madison Science Museum: Check out the Robotics and Makers Playground exhibit at this free museum
National Mustard Museum: More than 5,600 types of mustard are on display
Children’s Theater of Madison: Dramatic and comedic performances are sure to inspire your future Broadway star
ON THE OUTSKIRTS
Make your way just outside of Madison for road trippin’ fun! Within an hour radius of Madison are some truly unique roadside attractions worthy of the drive:
Cave of the Mounds: An underground oasis with shimmering stalagmites and stalactites
Noah’s Ark Waterpark: The world’s largest waterpark is equally exciting for toddlers and teenagers
House on the Rock Attraction: A unique museum of oddities with the world’s largest indoor carousel
International Crane Foundation: See all 15 of the world’s crane species in one place
Fireside Dinner Theatre: Youth packages are available year-round at this theatre-in-the-round in Fort Atkinson
Norwegian Heritage Center: Children can pack their bags and take a journey across the Atlantic to America from Norway at this museum and history center