Tourist At Heart
Whether you're a visitor or a resident, these attractions evoke the spirit of Madison, and should be added to your bucket list.
IN THE CENTER OF IT ALL
At the heart of the city lies Wisconsin's State Capitol. The Capitol dome reaches over 200 feet tall, only three feet shorter than the United States Capitol. Tour the building, including the observatory deck on the sixth floor with its stunning views of the entire city.
The Capitol Square is the perfect backdrop for the Dane County Farmers' Market, open Saturdays from April to November. It is the largest producer-only market in the country, and home to arts and crafts vendors and street musicians. Local shops like Fromagination, featuring Wisconsin artisan cheeses, restaurants like Tavernakaya and the Madison Children's Museum, Wisconsin Historical Museum, and Wisconsin Veterans Museum all sit on the square.
Adjacent to the Square is State Street, a pedestrian mall that links the Capitol to the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. Known for unique shops like The Soap Opera, numerous museums and galleries, and Overture Center for the Arts, home to more than 200 performances a year.
UW-MADISON & OUTDOOR ADVENTURES
UW-Madison is recognized for its achievements in research and academics, as well as its location on Lake Mendota. Touring campus is a great place to start, followed by a visit to the UW-Madison Arboretum, home to 1,200 acres of nature trails. And, don't miss your chance to tour Camp Randall or the Kohl Center, home to many winning Wisconsin Badgers teams—you might even spot Bucky!
Stay active and get exploring via our biking and hiking trails. Machinery Row Bicycles and Budget Bicycle Center both have rentals, or try Madison BCycle for more casual cycling. Leave time for the Capital City Trail, which winds throughout Madison.
TOURING THE CULINARY SCENE
Coupling food with local brews, wines and spirits is a Madison tradition, and there are many micro-breweries and wineries in the area, including Vintage Brewing Company and Wisconsin Brewing Company, which offers free tours of their brewing operation. Our award-winning wineries such as Wollersheim also offer tastings and tours.
For those interested in distilleries, the Old Sugar Distillery, located in the heart of downtown, uses many local ingredients to create their concoctions.
FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT'S CONTRIBUTION
One attraction on many visitors' lists is Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright's home and architecture school. Catch a glimpse into another world by visiting Taliesin in nearby Spring Green and learn more about Wright's impact on Wisconsin's architecture. Just up the road is House on the Rock, a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired building full of unique collections and the world's largest indoor carousel.
Back in Madison, Wright's influence is apparent at Monona Terrace, located on the shores of Lake Monona. You can also enjoy the First Unitarian Society meeting house, which welcomes visitors to worship and also offers building tours. Roundabout Madison Mobile Tours and Charters also showcases Frank Lloyd Wright architecture as part of a two-hour van tour.
More about Frank Lloyd Wright can be found on our Discover Mr. Wright itinerary.
AREA MUSEUMS & GALLERIES
Madison's many museums and galleries express the culture and personality of the area and show our devotion to the arts.
Into fine art? Find exciting and thought-proviking exhibitions at Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, as well as programs and events. At the other end of State Street, UW's Chazen Museum of Art showcases regional and national artists, and offers free educational programming, lectures, films, tours and family activities. The gallery focuses on contemporary Wisconsin artists, Wisconsin art and craft history, and works owned by Wisconsin collectors.
Dig deeper into Wisconsin's history the Wisconsin Historical Museum. Located on Madison's Capitol Square, this museum highlights the history of our state and has wide-range appeal for all ages. The Wisconsin Veterans Museum tells the story of Wisconsinites who served in America's conflicts from the Civil War to present, and admission is free. The Madison Children's Museum is wonderful for youngsters (and young-at-heart!). Explore and discover the rooftop garden, art studio and a special floor just for those five and under. Finally, the Norwegian Heritage Center gives their immigration story from 1825–1910 through maps, artifacts and a genealogy center.
Our website includes everything you need to help plan your trip, whether you're visiting for the first time or are a seasoned veteran. And don't forget to book your room! We've outlined all the best places to stay on our hotel and accommodations page. For tangible information, request one of our Visitor's Guides—we'd be happy to send it your way.