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Greater Madison on a Dime

Madison is a great place to discover on a budget. Scroll down for a sampling of Madison-area attractions and events that you can do for little or no cost!  

Madison Mainstays 

Wisconsin State Capitol
The best way to experience the beauty and grandeur of Wisconsin's Capitol building is to see it for yourself! Free tours are offered daily and the sixth floor museum and observation deck are open during the summer months.

Dane County Farmers' Market
The Dane County Farmers' Market takes place every Saturday morning around the Capitol square from April through November. It is the largest producer-only farmers' market in the country and hosts a variety of produce, fresh meats, flowers and more.

Monona Terrace
Every Wednesday in the summer, enjoy a free evening of dancing and great music with friends! Themed menu specials, snacks, beer, cocktails and soft drinks are available for purchase beginning at 5:00 p.m.

Concerts on the Square
Place your picnic blanket on the Capitol lawn under summer skies and enjoy as the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra performs free weekly, featuring guest artists. 

Museums and Tours 

Wisconsin Historical Museum 
This museum is full of information about the state's rich history including dioramas, artifacts, photography and interactive multimedia programs. Admission is free, but donations are encouraged.

Governor's Mansion
This mansion was built in the Classical Revival style on more than four acres along Lake Mendota. It has 16,000 square feet of living space, including 34 rooms, 13 bathrooms, and seven bedrooms and fireplaces. Free tours are offered April through August and during the holiday season.

Wisconsin Veterans Museum
The Veterans Museum offers instructive exhibits that highlight important events in Wisconsin military history, from the Civil War to the present. Admission is free. 

UW-Madison Geology Museum 
Come touch a piece of history at this free museum! Browse the rocks and minerals exhibit, which features meteorites and a fluorescent display, or check out the dinosaur and fossil exhibits. Tours and storytelling times are available.

Chazen Museum of Art 
The Chazen Museum of Art is associated with the University of Wisconsin-Madison and houses touring and permanent collections of paintings, sculptures and drawings. Admission is free and docents are available for tours.

National Mustard Museum
This free museum in nearby Middleton has an ever-growing display of prepared mustards, which currently spans more than 5,000 jars, bottles and tubes from all 50 states and more than 60 countries!

Brewery and Winery Tours
Many of the area's breweries and wineries offer free tours and samplings at little to no cost! Our Breweries, Wineries, and Spirits page outlines your options.

For the Kids

Henry Vilas Zoo
As one of the nation's only admission-free zoos, the Henry Vilas Zoo is home to more than 800 animals. The new Artic Passage exhibit opened in May and features seals, polar bears and grizzly bears. The zoo's carousel and train are also popular with kids of all ages. 

Madison Public Library
The library's new downtown location is directly across from Overture Center for the Arts, and is much more than a library! Kids will love the unique reading nooks and The Bubbler, an artist's studio that will allow your child's imagination to grow.

Kids in the Rotunda
Almost every Saturday during the school year, Overture Center for the Arts offers free programs designed for children and families. These arts activities feature a diverse lineup of local and regional musicians, storytellers, jugglers, theater troupes, magicians and dancers. 

Presented by American Family Insurance (a Madison-based company), the DreamBank on the Capitol Square offers a variety of interactive tools, activities and weekly events that help you discover your goals and inspire your children.

Nature and Outdoor Options

Aldo Leopold Nature Center 
Outdoor trails, interactive exhibits, theater and programs for all ages. Admission is just $4 for adults and $3 for kids, seniors and military members.

Olbrich Botanical Gardens
Free to the general public on Wednesday and Saturday mornings, take the time to stroll through 16 acres of outdoor display gardens or explore the tropical paradise in Olbrich's Bolz Conservatory, a glass pyramid filled with exotic plants and flowers, small birds, a rushing waterfall, and fragrant orchids. 

University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum
Since 1934, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum has restored land, advanced ecological restoration, and fostered Aldo Leopold's land ethic. Explore the arboretum's 1,200 acres on your own or schedule a private guided tour. Admission is free and the arboretum is open year-round.

Biking and Hiking
Numerous biking and hiking trails weave throughout Madison, making it easy to have an adventure! Plus there's usually a group ride or race available on the weekends. Exploring Madison on foot or by bike is simple and the city is very accessible.

When you visit Madison, you're almost always a stone's throw away from the nearest lake. There are five in the vicinty and more than 15,000 acres available, making it simple to enjoy the fresh water!