Madison has no shortage of unique, fun things to do, and these spots shine their brightest at night.

Nightlife and entertainment here go way beyond getting drinks at the typical bar. Instead, they’re locales for the adventurous sort. Ones who want more than to just sip a cocktail—they want to try something new and have an entire nightlife experience.

If this sounds like you, here are the most one-of-a-kind nighttime sights throughout the Madison area, just in time to for indoor excitement during the winter months.

Entertainment in Madison

For those who want to sit back and enjoy

Get Your Laugh On 

Madison’s Comedy on State has been a nightlife mainstay for decades. The intimate venue hosts a variety of well-known comics, including SNL and Comedy Central alums. With multiple shows each weekend, it’s easy to add one to your itinerary.  

Listen to Some Tickled Ivories 

If your evening excursions are even better with live piano music, you’re in luck with The Ivory Room Piano Bar. Found on Mifflin Street, the bar specializes in dueling pianos, in which two players lead the audience in sing-alongs and fun banter. Enjoy while you sip a Wisconsin Sidecar, a mix of brandy, orange liquor and lemon. 

Enjoy an Improv Show 

Madison has a couple excellent options to laugh the night away at an improv show. There’s Atlas Improv Co. on East Washington Avenue, where shows are held Fridays and Saturdays and feature a company of the funniest Madisonians around. Atwood Avenue is home to Monkey Business Institute—catch a live show or go the virtual route with livestreamed improv shows. 

Listen to Jazz 

Jazz is a way to take a night from ordinary to oh-so-sophisticated. Take your night up a notch by going to Café Coda on Williamson Street. Buy tickets to a jazz show, savor a Cosmo or Moscow Mule, or even catch a live stream to get the experience at home. 

Hands-on Experiences in Madison

For those who want to join in the fun 

Hit the Dance Floor 

What’s nightlife without dancing? Luckily, Madison is in no short supply of places to dance. There’s Gorham Street’s Red Rock Saloon, a watering hole with twangy flair, live music and DJs specializing in country and rock tunes. Looking for a club experience? Liquid on University Avenue regularly hosts DJs that pump out current and EDM music that will get you moving. 

Play Grown-Up Games 

Arcade bars are all the rage, and you can have the experience right here in Madison. Located on Williamson Street, you’ll find I/O Arcade Bar, brimming with craft cocktails and 70 old-school arcade games. Space Invaders, anyone? 

Play Bingo with Drag Queens 

What makes a game of bingo even better? Drag queens, of course! FIVE Nightclub hosts drag queen bingo the 4th Wednesday of every month. Just $5 will get you two cards and 10 rounds of games, with prizes awarded to the winners.  

Try Salsa Dancing 

For an evening out with Latin flair, look no further than salsa dancing! Capitol Social, located on Mifflin Street, offers lessons, but there’s also studio socials, happy hours and nightclub events as well. 

Take an Evening Class 

Just because it’s not daytime doesn’t mean you can’t experience culture and better yourself through a class. Garver Feed Mill, the historic building turned events space and marketplace, offers cocktail classes and herbal beverage blending classes. And next door, Wine & Design has nightly paint and sip events.  

Bonus: Nightlife in the Suburbs

For those who want to get out and explore  

There’s plenty of exciting nightlife happening in the suburbs, too. Try fancy cocktails at Fitchburg’s Atomic Koi, filled with lots of punchy, midcentury-inspired décor. Or head to X-Golf Middleton, where you can experience a golf simulator, order appetizers and grab a beer. Then there’s Toot & Kate’s Wine Bar in Verona, which offers plenty of vino to sip, and also fun public events. But we guarantee that it will already be pretty fun to pour your own self-serve wines on tap. 


Find more nightlife ideas here and make it an overnight stay with February’s Madison Minication hotel deals.