Although Madison is a wonderland of amazing outdoor urban adventures all year-round, it also offers just as many fun indoor diversions — something that especially comes in handy during the chilly winter months. Whether you’re looking for a unique date destination, a place to go with friends or a family-friendly locale, you’re in luck here in Madison.

You’re sure to enjoy these six activities, no matter who you’re sharing them with.

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Even though Olbrich Botanical Gardens boasts 16 impressive acres outdoors of foliage and flowers that can’t be missed, the Bolz Conservatory is a can't miss part of the gardens. This beautiful glass pyramid houses an entire tropical paradise, including a 20-foot-high waterfall, a collection of over 650 plants and plenty of fauna, including bright-yellow canaries and Japanese koi. If you’re longing for an island getaway, you can absolutely get your fix here, where it’s always a balmy 65 to 95 degrees.

Pro Tip: As Olbrich Botanical Gardens is only a short drive away from Williamson Street and Atwood Avenue, have a bit to eat before or after your visit at local mainstays like A Pig in a Fur Coat, Tex Tubb's Taco Palace or Monty’s Blue Plate Diner.

Cave of the Mounds

Visit a national landmark just a 35-minute drive from downtown Madison that was here long before the State Capitol Building. Cave of the Mounds really is a gem, no pun intended, where you’ll discover a stunning array of crystal formations in a grand limestone cave. Also, be sure to visit the Rock and Gift Shop and take part in some fossil and gemstone mining of your own. Tickets are available online or in-person, with tours happening hourly on weekdays, and more frequently on weekends. 

Pro Tip: Cave of the Mounds is a hop, skip and a jump away from the "Troll Capital of the World": Mount Horeb, Wisconsin. You’re sure to find a restaurant that will warm you up after your outing like The Grumpy Troll, a tribute to the area’s Norwegian heritage. Make sure to be on the lookout for trolls around town! 

Vitense Golfland

Vitense Golfland is a can't-miss attraction from the Beltline highway due to its fun, outdoor mini golf features, like the red-striped lighthouse and towering rooster. It’s also just as fun inside with its 18-hole indoor mini golf course, arcade, 25 “golf suites" where you can watch the game and sip a beer while you practice in a heated, covered range and 2 indoor "sports simulator suites". Though it's not required, booking your suite ahead of your visit will ensure your time.

Pro Tip: Vitense Golfland offers an amazing grill right on site, The Signature Hole Bar & Grill, so you won’t have to interrupt your game to go find grub. Here, enjoy beer-battered cheese curds, nachos and soft pretzels.

Chazen Museum of Art

Admission is always free to the Chazen Museum of Art, located on the UW-Madison campus. There are an astounding 23,000 works of art in Chazen’s collection that have been amassed since 1885. Several historical periods are represented here, such as European paintings dating all the way back to the 14th century, ancient sculptures from Egypt and beyond and striking photos from the 20th century.

Pro Tip: Since the art museum is within walking distance of UW-Madison’s Memorial Union, it's just a quick walk away to admire the beautiful Lake Mendota, one of Madison's five lakes, and savor a meal at one of the many indoor eateries, like the storied Der Rathskeller or the sweet Daily Scoop.

Boulders Climbing Gym

If you prefer activities of the heart-pumping variety, look no further than Boulders Climbing Gym. With two locations (downtown and the east side), you can reserve your spot on the website and get your climb on. At the downtown location, there are 8,000 square feet of bouldering walls ⁠— which you climb without a rope. It’s a great form of exercise that’s fun as a date or a family outing.

Pro Tip: The downtown Boulders Climbing Gym location is just off the capitol square. Stop inside and admire the beauty of our State Capitol Building. Free tours are offered every day of the week! 

Escape This

You have 60 minutes to work with your team and escape your room via clues, puzzles and codes. Sounds simple enough. Or is it? Your teamwork and smarts will be challenged at Escape This in these quirky, themed rooms, ranging from Sherlocked to Lost Friday Night. All games must be booked in advance online.

Pro Tip: Escape This is just down the road from the Monona Terrace. Pop in for beautiful views of Lake Monona while also admiring the incredible architectural work of Frank Lloyd Wright

Make it an overnight adventure

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