Know Before You Go
It's hard to capture Madison in words. The energy and personality. The eclectic collection of thinkers, innovators, artists, and blue-collar souls. The green-space nestled between sparkling lakes in the heart of a compact city. A distinct harmony of development and nature.
We can't wait for you to get here and explore Madison. Here are some handy tips to help you discover our destination in comfort.
As the capital of the State of Wisconsin, Madison has made its mark on the map in a number of ways. Our estimated population in 2013 was 243,344 (more than 500,000 people live in the Greater Madison area) and we are located 79 miles west of Milwaukee, 136 miles southwest of Green Bay and 147 miles northwest of Chicago.
Madison is famous for its ease of access and active lifestyle.
We’re one of the top five biking cities in the world – and we do it year-round despite the snow. Pick up an electric, rentable bike from 45 BCycle stations around downtown and join the culture. If activity is appealing, but biking isn’t, Madison is an excellent city for a stroll. We rank as the Number 2 Most Walkable City.
Active transportation isn’t for everyone. So Madison has a variety of other transportation options. Catch a taxi, metro bus, Lyft, or Uber for simple navigation.
Downtown Map View Online or Print (PDF)
Central and Greater Madison Accommodations Maps
Central and Greater Madison Restaurant Maps
WEATHER & ATTIRE
We have four seasons, each with their own unique requirements.
Spring in Madison is a breezy time with a freshness to the air. Temperatures are most volatile this time of year, so it’s crucial to bring layers. A light sweater, jacket, or cardigan will keep you covered in the brisk mornings and evenings while still allowing you to enjoy the warm afternoons.
Summer in Madison is a lively time. Lake life takes hold, and the sun provides plenty of warmth. Standard summer attire like shorts, t-shirts, and sandals are perfect for basking in the sun. Make sure to bring a rain jacket. June is our wettest month.
Fall in Madison is an exciting time. Changing leaves, Badger game days, and Freakfest offer plenty of opportunities to enjoy the crisp air. Temperatures tend to be comfortable, but a bit chilly. We suggest layering so you can adjust as necessary.
Winter in Madison doesn’t slow us down. We bike, snowshoe, and celebrate the season no matter the cold. It is a cold season, so we advise you to pack warm coats, hats, and mittens. Madison gets a fair amount of snow, so a pair of waterproof boots are essential to all-day comfort.
- Jan: 11˚-26˚ (avg snowfall 13 in)
- Feb: 15˚-31˚ (avg snowfall 11 in)
- Mar: 25˚-43˚ (avg snowfall 7 in)
- Apr: 36˚-57˚ (avg snowfall 3 in)
- May: 46˚-68˚
- June: 56˚-78˚
- July: 61˚-82˚
- Aug: 59˚-79˚
- Sept: 50˚-72˚
- Oct: 39˚-59˚ (avg snowfall 1 in)
- Nov: 28˚-44˚ (avg snowfall 4 in)
- Dec: 16˚-30˚ (avg snowfall 14 in)
For all life-threatening medical, fire and police emergencies, call 911.
For non-emergency calls, dial the following numbers:
City of Madison: 608.261.9694 (police); 608.266.4420 (fire)
Dane County: 608.261.9692 (sheriff's office); 608.266.4420
RULES TO REMEMBER
It is illegal in Wisconsin for anyone under 21 years old to consume alcohol in any quantity. To purchase alcohol in a bar, restaurant or store, you must be able to produce photographic identification that proves your age. Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) is a serious offense in Wisconsin. The state prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle by a driver that has a .08 percent or above blood alcohol (BAC) concentration.
In Wisconsin, the driver and all passengers must wear their seatbelts at all times when traveling in a car. Any child too small to be protected by a seatbelt must be secured in a child safety seat.
Wisconsin law prohibits smoking in restaurants, bars, theaters, auditoriums, museums and most other public buildings.
Keep your eyes on the road, as Wisconsin has a texting ban for all drivers. We also recommend that you play it safe and use a hands-free controller if you must use a phone while on the road.
For additional information on state-by-state legislation (such as concealed carry) contact the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
CURRENCY & BANKING
Bank-card, bank-cash and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) are located throughout the city. Members of participating banking networks and credit card companies can obtain U.S. currency by using an ATM card or credit card and a Personal Identification Number (PIN). If you need to exchange foreign currency, contact Travelex Currency Services at 1 S Pinckney Street in Madison, 608.259.8462.