Madison Travel Guide

  • Sunset
    by bladedragon
  • Red Gym
    Red Gym
    by bladedragon
  • State Capitol
    State Capitol
    by bladedragon

Madison Things to Do

  • Downtown

    Madison's downtown is fairly large, it is lively with many places to eat, etc., and it is very attractive with lots of lovely and interesting buildings old and new. It has many trees and is very walkable, making it a great place to explore. Its location between two lakes adds to its uniqueness and interest.

  • Grounds of the State Capitol

    The capitol building has lovely grounds with many trees. Inside the building, one can obtain a guide to all the trees on the grounds, showing what they are and their history. It is a pleasant area to relax and look around.

  • State Capitol

    As the capital of Wisconsin, Madison is home to the state capitol building, right in the heart of downtown. It is a lovely, grand, and very ornate building, made at great expense and this shows. One can visit and they offer free tours, as is typical in state capitols. Like some, but by no means all, state capitols, it has public access to the top...


Madison Hotels

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Madison Restaurants

  • Good Frozen Custard

    This is a local frozen-custard joint with 3 locations. It's very good but not among the best we've had in our book. The texture is not quite as creamy and pleasing in the way I really want from frozen custard.

  • Great Brewpub

    This is a lovely and great brewpub right downtown about a block from the capitol. It has some great beer, especially English-style cask ales, and in our experience excellent food. The salad with steak on it was particularly excellent and large for the price. The place is nice with an old-fashioned pub feel and the location is great.

  • A Madison classic!

    My uncle lived in Madison, Wisconsin for many years, so when I found out we were going, I asked him for some advice on places to go. He said that we definitely shouldn't miss State Street Brats. Our hotel was only about a block from State Street, so we took a long walk from the capitol building down State Street until we finally got to the...


Madison Nightlife

  • More upscale place to hang out

    This is a smaller club, right off the Capitol square. More upscale, for Madison anyway, with a younger crowd drinking wine, beer, hor d'ouvres in a more fashionable setting than a college frat bar. Don't be surprised if you look to the next table and see Shirley Manson or Butch Vig, since Butch is part owner of this place. He's the drummer of the...

  • Great Taste of the Midwest - Beer...

    The largest beer festival in the Midwest, 2nd biggest in the country is held the 2nd saturday in August.This year Jenn(CoAir13), Ethan(CoAir19), Kevin(Itsfunhavingfun) & his wife all happened to be passing thru.Dunk tanks, games, music... and plenty of beer. Over 100 breweries with 4-6 samples each.It runs from 1pm to 6pm. Tickets go on sale the...


    Martini Night on Saturday? This is a quiet a bargain!! been there for a friend's birthday last week, and we had a great time! The Bar is small, but the place had a sleek-decor. After the dinner is over, the place turns into bar/wine lounge. We sat on tables next to a huge mosaic representing the God of wine: Dionysos. We were hoping he wouldn't get...


Madison Transportation

  • Getting from O'Hare/Chicago airport to...

    After picking up your luggage, you simply follow the red & blue signs that say "Bus/Shuttle Center". You should see them near the baggage claim. This will lead you to the Bus center. You'll be going down, over, in an elevator, and around but you'll get there--remember there are 5 terminals in O'hare so it may take a good 10+ minutes to find it...

  • To and From Truax Field/Madison's...

    I'm going to Montreal in 2 months, so I'll double check this and take photos then....The airport on the east side of Madison is called Truax Field. It has 8 gates in 1 terminal. No real traffic here except early in the morning when planes leave for airline hubs. Might be crowded betweeen 5am and 8am, but that's crowded by Madison standards--the...

  • 150 miles of bike paths

    Bike Paths We've got miles and miles of RR tracks turned into bike/recreation trails. Rent a bike, or bring your own. Paths are also open for roller-bladers, walkers, runners, dog-walkers, and anything else you want to do on the paths. - Lake Monona Loop - One goes all the way around Lake Monona, about 13 miles worth. About half of it is on lightly...


Madison Shopping

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  • An eclectic mix of unique shops

    We walked from near the capitol building down to State Street Brats on state street when I was in Madison. It was fairly late then, so most stores weren't open, but we really wanted to go back during the daytime, because the shops that were there were fascinating! Definitely an interesting area to check out if you're in Madison and interested in a...

  • A warm and cozy place for books

    A feminist bookstore with both new and used selections - many shevles devoted to literature, history and travel - something to interest all book lovers. A Room of One's Own has also taken over the stock of Avol's Books, another one of Madison's former used book stores, so there is some great browsing to be had here. I noticed that - when I was here...

  • Maxwell St Days

    3rd friday, saturday & sunday in July. State St is closed down and all the stores put their junk...err, stuff on sale and in the street. Some real bargains, some not so much. Bands, lemonade, and many people trying to beat the heat. Best place to buy U of Wisconsin gear. at least 10 different stores selling UW stuff.Another stores was selling used...


Madison Local Customs

  • Winter Carnival at UW

    The Winter Carnival at the University of Wisconsin is a celebration of things icy. There's ice golf and ice frisbee, ice broomball and ice fishing. It's held out on frozen Lake Mendota, out beyond the terrace of the Memorial Union. It's a reflection of this piece of wisdom: if you want to be happy in the upper Midwest, don't reject winter, embrace...

  • One of the Heights of Western...

    The beer sample tray at the Great Dane Brewpub!I met VT member Sam Barnett and friends in Madison in early October 2005, and brave explorers that we are, we tackled the World Series of Beers at the Great Dane. What a beautiful range of beverages they feature! Everything from hoppy india ales to smooth germanic lagers to peppery dark stouts. Having...

  • Where's the bubbler?

    Something sort of unique to these parts is the word 'bubbler'. Most of the rest of the world calls this a 'water fountain'. We call them 'bubblers'.If you want a drink of water, ask for a "bubbler". If you want to look at a huge pretty thing that sprays water everywhere ask for a "water fountain".This might save you on a hot day.


Madison Warnings and Dangers

  • nighttime precautions

    In a previous tip, it is stated Madison is safe. It is. However, always be sure to use common sense. Stay with a friend, especially after dark. Recently there have been a few incidents of robberies. Guys, they hit you, too. But this is very rare, downtown at night. I wouldn't let it affect my plans except to take the same precaustions you take...

  • Flute music permeates Library Mall!

    Nothing like spending a nice, warm sunny summer lunch down at the library mall on campus than to have it ruined by The Orange Guy and his flute. Seriously. He plays that thing over and over and over until it drives you nuts. How many times can you hear the theme from The Flintstones until it drives you bonkers.

  • College Towns can get a bit wild

    Because Madison is a huge college town, most nights drunk college kids can be seen roaming the streets. There are a certain days that Madison get a bit wilder than normal, so if that's not your thing or you are planning on bringing the family for a nice visit to the capitol you may want to avoid them. These include: Football game days- Depending on...


Madison Tourist Traps

  • Boo!

    Every Halloween, tens of thousands of students drunkenly stumble into Madison for a weekend of revelry and, in the past, rioting (usually out-of-towners make up nearly all of the arrests that happen). Halloween is generally a let-down for people and is certainly not the best view of Madison. If you have to go, don't cause trouble, don't destroy...

  • There was life before Starbucks

    State St. is the pedestrian mall that has unfortunately lost some of its charm when allowing such chains as the Gap and Starbucks to encroach onto what used to be ma and pop establishments.Starbucks is strategically located at the top of State St. and one would be tempted to dive in for some much needed java before making the trek down...

  • Farmers market...overrated

    The Farmers market is an overrated journey to capital square. The food is overpriced (I think for the novelty of it going bad in your bag in the hot summer sun) and the place is always crowded with people who are somehow in a hurry to go in a circle. To be honest there were only 3 vendors worth visiting...and one has passed away. Hook's cheeses...


Madison What to Pack

  • Off! in the summer, fleece in the...

    Summer: assuming a normal amount of rain in spring and summer, bring or buy here plenty of mosquito repellant. Those litle buggers can be awful. Winter: well, we are pretty far north, so bring warm clothes, but you already knew that, right? Mittens/gloves, and a hat. There are a lot of beaches, and a new pool being built right now. There is nice...

  • Intense weather

    The weather of Madison fluctuates quite a bit from season to season. The winters are notoriously cold, most winters reaching -20F at least once, while the summers can be hot and incredibly humid. These, of course are the extremes should you be caught in a hot or cold spell. The summers are usually very nice. When visiting in the spring or summer,...

  • Brace for Wisconsin winter

    If you're unfortunate enough to travel to Madison in the dead of winter during January till March then make sure you bring lots of heavy winter clothing, including gloves, hats/ear muffs, and boots. Early Spring and Late Fall present opportunities for period of rain showers, raincoats and umbrellas are a must if you want to keep yourself dry....


Madison Off The Beaten Path

  • Ehlenbach's Cheese Chalet

    A trip to Wisconsin is never complete without a visit to a cheese shop! We stopped at Ehlenbach's Cheese Chalet on our way out of Madison, WI (it's about a half hour out, right along the interstate), and loved it. Lots of cheese in interesting shapes, a large mouse on top of the Chalet near the sign, a giant cow statue... and all of the cheese was...

  • Le Fete de Marquette

    It's another East Side festival, this time celebrating French culture and anything that is associated with it like Africa, Haiti and Louisiana. Music from around the world. Food influenced from France, and beer, and booths selling or informing you of something are plentiful.Takes place the 2nd saturday in July usually, to coincide with Bastille Day...

  • See Frank Lloyd Wrights home/Office

    Taliesen - Frank Lloyd Wrights home & officeNot in Madison, in Spring Green, about 35 miles west of here. Famous architect. The house he lived in for 50 years or so, constantly changing it. Also, you can go to the Unitarian church on the west side of Madison right off University Avenue that he designed and attended I think. There is also a house in...


Madison Sports & Outdoors

  • Madison Mallards - minor league baseball

    Baseball. Pat of the Northwest League. Made up of mostly college age kids playing in the summer. Season starts around June and goes to mid-August.Tix range from $3-$7, except for the special pricey options. Food here is surprisingly cheap. Usually draw 5000 people/night.

  • 12 hours on a moutain bike. Sound like...

    WEMS, Wisconsin Endurance Mountain Bike Series, This race series is a series of 3,6 & 12 hours races in Wisconsin. There are solo, duo, single-speed & team categories. Just added was a downhill race--those guys are crazy.Races start at 8am. You just go, do as many laps as you can in the 3, 6 or 12 hour race. Winner is the one who has the most laps...

  • Cross-country ski race in downtown...

    Cross-country ski race around the State capitol. Every year they groom, or truck in massive amounts of snow for cross county ski races around the Capitol Square. Open skiing is also offered when races aren't taking place. Also ice sculptures, snowboarding area, ski related conferences and such. Usually MLK weekend. These photos wer taken in 1/06,...


Madison Favorites

  • beautiful lake Mendota

    There are a lot of beautiful spots in Madison but the University Bay at Lake Mendota is a lovely spot Walking from the Campus to the capitol ,enjoy the street life,sit outside at a nice coffeshop,meet people from all over the world

  • "Isthmus", free weekly paper with load...

    The weekly 'newspaper' that lists upcoming events, movies, shows, concerts, etc.. comes out on thursday afternoon. They're usually available in doorways, coffee shops, record stores, paper kiosks, etc...Also use the website to see what's happening before you come.

  • The Onion - Satire

    Maybe you've seen the on-line satirical website and radio program that mocks everything and everyone. (I saw it on sale at a Borders Book Store in Scotland last year) That was started here in the late '80s by a couple guys. It started as an 8 page weekly newspaper, and you can find it at locations around town, in kiosks and in a bundle in the...


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