An individual rides a bike and pulls a child behind them in a carrier.

Photo by Focal Flame Photography

Parking & Transportation

So, you’re planning a trip to downtown Madison? Set on an isthmus between two scenic lakes, and centered around the Wisconsin State Capitol, we pack a lot into our downtown. But don’t let those one-way streets intimidate you. These transportation tips and parking resources to make your visit as smooth as possible, whether you’re arriving by car, bike, or boat. And, as long as you promise not to drive down State Street, you’ll be cruising around downtown Madison like a local in no time.

Where to Park

Boating on Madison's lakes are just one way to get around downtown


Find a place to park downtown with ease by checking out the City of Madison website to find a parking garage near your destination. The website outlines parking fees and displays how many spots are left in the garage. This map from Madison’s Central Business Improvement District also shows available privately-owned lots, in addition to public lots.

Just making a quick stop? Grab metered on-street parking. Available on a first-come, first-served basis with posted time limit restrictions.

Before you buckle up, review upcoming road construction projects and the road closures map for any street closures or detours. Keep an eye on special events (hello, Badger football) that may impact downtown area streets or parking.

Accessible Parking Spots

Parking spaces for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) are available in all surface lots and on the ground floor of all parking garages. Review the City of Madison parking accessibility page for more info, and to find garages with elevators. This map shows on- and off-street parking options for PWDs and accessible loading zone areas.

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

Need some juice for your electric vehicle? Madison Gas and Electric provides eight charging stations in City of Madison parking garages around downtown.


Biking enthusiasts are happy to find a welcoming environment in downtown Madison. There are bike racks throughout downtown including on the Capitol Square and State Street, and in all city parking garages. No racks? Lock your bicycle to something that cannot be easily broken. But, please don’t park against a tree or where it will block access to pedestrians and persons with disabilities. Staying overnight? We recommend keeping your bike locked indoors, if possible.

Before strapping on your helmet, review the Bike Madison construction page for potential bike path closures and detours.

Motorcycle & Moped

Arriving on two, motorized wheels is no problem! There are several parking options for mopeds and motorcycles including on-street metered parking and designated stalls in garages.


Boat parking is available, though it’s quite limited. On Lake Mendota, tie up at UW’s Goodspeed Family Pier (17 spots) or closer to the Capitol, try the Edgewater Hotel’s Pier (40 spots).

Transportation Tips & Getting Around

A woman rides her bike in front of the State capitol


Walking is one of the best ways to get around downtown Madison. Stroll from Mendota to Monona in minutes, and from Capitol to campus without breaking a sweat. With so many great places — from shops to dining to entertainment — you’ll want to lace up your walking shoes to explore.

Madison’s Central Business Improvement District’s self-guided walking tour is a great way to see interesting sites. Or take the scenic route on walking trails around the lakes, through neighborhoods and parks.

Ride a Bike

Welcome to bike capital of the Midwest. Navigating downtown on two wheels is easy with this interactive Bike Madison map. Or use the City of Madison’s Low-Stress Bike Route Finder for urban route planning. There are simple bicycling etiquette guidelines to follow when riding on a bike path or on-street. Looking for a family-friendly biking tour? Follow this fun, four-route map.

Didn’t bring your own bike? Borrow an electric BCycle. With over 300 e-bikes and 45 stations, you can get from point A to B with speed and ease.

To assist with your commute, the front of all Madison Metro buses are equipped with a bike rack. Racks can hold two bikes. Watch this tutorial to see how they work. Please note: bikes are not allowed inside the bus.

Take the Bus

When you get tired or need to travel farther than your feet will allow, catch a Madison Metro Transit bus. With hubs located around the Capitol Square, on State Street, and other points downtown, taking the city bus is a cost-effective way to get around. One-day passes are $5 and can be purchased directly from the driver. Find route maps and full schedules in the Metro Ride Guide.

All Madison Metro Transit buses are accessible and service animals are welcome. Read how Metro Transit is providing a public transportation system for all on its Accessible Services page. Paratransit service is available to anyone unable to use fixed-route buses.

Hail a Taxi

Okay, so we’re not quite big-city enough to need to “hail” a taxi, but Madison is home to many cab companies that are happy to help you get around. Ride in a traditional yellow taxi from Union Cab, order a Lyft or Uber to pick you up, or experience Madison on three wheels with Badger Bike Taxi.

Additional Accessibility Resources

Quick Reference Guide: Transportation Options in Dane County for People with Development Disabilities

University of Wisconsin-Madison Accessible Transportation Options

Blue Trunk Foundation: A nonprofit that believes everybody, and every type of body, should have the opportunity to travel. Blue Trunk supports businesses in their journey towards improved accessibility.

The City of Madison Disability Rights & Services Program serves residents with disabilities and coordinates the city’s efforts to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

In 2019, Downtown Madison, Inc. and the city of Madison’s Disability Rights Commission launched the Access Madison campaign — a partnership effort to make downtown more accessible to people with disabilities.

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