When you buy a ticket to see a Broadway play, symphony orchestra concert, ballet, comedy show or other live performance at Overture Center, you're also buying a front-row seat to all the incredible things to do, see, eat and drink in downtown Madison and beyond.
We've compiled all the best know-before-you-go tips, tricks and recommendations that will help you turn your night at the theater into an arts and culture getaway.
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Overture Center is a one-of-a-kind venue in a one-of-a-kind location. If it's your first time visiting, or maybe it's been a while, consider these tips.
Soak up State Street
Overture Center is located on one of Madison's most iconic streets. State Street is a mile-long stretch connecting the Wisconsin State Capitol and the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus lined with great shops, restaurants and art. Cars cannot drive on State Street with the exception of buses and emergency vehicles, so plan ahead for walk time from nearby parking ramps. This gives you the perfect excuse to explore downtown before and after the show.
Pro tip: For a full trip of Madison must-dos before or after your show, start with a tour of the Capitol building, then walk down State Street to visit the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (adjacent to the Overture Center) and finish out by walking the rest of the way to the UW campus for ice cream at the Wisconsin Union. Don't forget to stop and shop along the way.
Find full parking and accessible transportation details here.
Bike to Broadway
When you're visiting one of the most bikeable cities in the country, it just makes sense to bike to the theater. BCycle e-bike rentals make it easy to get around town in a way that's good for your body and the planet. The docking station at the intersection of Fairchild and State Street is incredibly convenient, just steps away from the theater.
Note: BCycle rentals are available spring through early winter. Check the app for availability.
Pro tip: Hop on a bike to find public art throughout Madison.
Looking for some food to fuel your Fosse frenzy? We've got you covered.
Mochas before matinees
There are so many options to get some java in your jazz hands before the show starts. On State Street, Michelangelo's and Fair Trade Coffee House are cozy hideaways with great drinks and pastries and Colectivo offers a full cafe menu. For the tea lovers, Sencha Tea Bar and Le C's Patisserie & Tea House have huge selections of tasty sips.
Brunch ado about nothing
Like the theater, brunch is an all-star affair. All your favorite breakfast and lunch foods accompanied by permissible day drinking? Yes please. Some of Madison's most acclaimed brunch spots are minutes from Overture Center like the beloved Short Stack Eatery just a block away, Bassett Street Brunch Club where brunch is literally the name of the game and CIRC inside the Madison Concourse Hotel.
Dinner and a show
Madison's culinary scene is decorated with accolades and farm-to-table menus that are sure to make you sing, no matter what you're in the mood for.
Overture Center is less than a 10-minute drive from six James Beard-honored restaurants. Tory Miller's French-inspired Capitol Square dining destination L'Etoile, Dan Fox's cozy farm-to-table Heritage Tavern and Francesco Mangano's rustic Italian restaurant Osteria Papavero are all within walking distance of the Overture Center.
A little further out you'll find Willy Street's row of decorated restaurants — Ahan, A Pig in a Fur Coat and Sardine — each bringing their own spin on fresh, local ingredients and flavors from around the globe.
There are a ton of great meals in casual settings near Overture Center. Across the Capitol Square on King Street is a lineup of great restaurants (many of which have outdoor seating in the warmer months) including Settle Down Tavern, Lucille, Morris Ramen, Nattspil, The Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co. and Tipsy Cow.
The fun's not done once the cast takes their bows. Check out all the things waiting for you after the show.
Cheers to delicious drinks
Madison is known for having a spirited cocktail and mocktail scene that make great drinks to be sipped during even better conversations. The bar at Eno Vino Downtown has one of the greatest views of the Capitol building and a beautiful patio. Merchant is known for elevated drink menus and special events like DJ nights and 'tini Tuesdays. Cask & Ale is a whiskey bar just blocks from the Overture Center with whiskeys from around the world.
Still hungry? We've been there. It's a good thing Overture is situated between several of Madison's best spots for late-night food. Ian's Pizza is a Madison staple with by-the-slice pizzas with unexpected toppings, Paul's Pel'meni has a straightforward menu of Russian dumplings, Parthenon Gyros has been in Madison for decades and was the first gyro shop in the state of Wisconsin and The Nitty Gritty is known for extra-special birthday celebrations and great burgers.
Some of the best places to stay in Madison are located within walking distance of Overture Center. Hotels like the Madison Concourse Hotel, Park Hotel, AC Hotel and Hilton Madison Monona Terrace provide elevated experiences in the heart of downtown.