Not to be outshined by nearby Milwaukee and Chicago, Madison has its fair share of fun events and sights that are must-sees for locals and tourists alike. If you’re a Wisconsinite or just passing through, here are some of the best things to do and see when visiting Madison, Wisconsin.
#1 Olbrich Botanical Gardens
The Olbrich Botanical Gardens is home to beautiful flowers, plants, and is a year-round oasis for Madison residents. Their 16-acre gardens boasts some gorgeous wildlife that thrives in the Midwest climate. Visitors can see blooming displays in the spring and perennials and annuals in the summer.
For something to do in the winter, head to their large conservatory. The conservatory is warm and humid all year round and is home to tropical species of plants you can’t find growing in many places else. Lastly, the Olbrich Gardens are home to the only Thai Pavilion in the continental United States. It was a gift from Thailand to the University of Wisconsin Madison, which has one of the largest Thai student populations of any university.
#2 Capitol Square
Wisconsin’s State Capitol building offers free tours to the public every day, but the real gem is Capitol Square. The square in front of the Capitol hosts a slew of events throughout the year. It’s a beautiful spot to spend a beautiful day, from outdoor concerts to rallies to a daily farmer’s market. And you can sit right on the steps of the historical Capitol as your backdrop.
#3 Downtown Madison
State Street and Downtown Madison have long been tourist spots for anyone visiting. State Street is home to shops and restaurants for all tastes and preferences. It’s a fun spot for people watching and taking in the sights and sounds of Madison.
#4 Frank Lloyd Wright’s Monona Terrace
If you’re not familiar with Frank Lloyd Wright, he was a legendary architect (and fellow Wisconsinite) who designed some of the most stunning structures throughout the Midwest in the early to mid-1900s. He came up with the idea of a “Dream Civic Center” in 1939, which would include a marina, auditorium, depot, and city hall.
It took nearly 60 years to finally bring his plans to life. Visit this stunning structure right on the shore of the lake and stroll through a historical timeline of Frank Lloyd Wright’s work. And then catch a show in the facility’s outdoor amphitheater.
#5 Chazen Museum of Art
UW Madison has a massive campus that is home to many things that are open to the public as well as current students. One of which is the Chazen Museum of Art. For the last 50 years, the museum has collected and curated tens of thousands of pieces of art. They even have a large group of Andy Warhol’s in their collection.
The Museum of Art is open every day, for FREE, to students and the public. It’s a great place to get some culture, some peace and quiet, and learn a few things along the way. Plus, we’ve heard their in-house cafe is delicious. So grab a coffee and see some art—now that’s a perfect day!
#6 Madison Children’s Museum
For something a little more family (and kid) friendly, check out the Madison Children’s Museum. This museum sits right smack in the middle of Madison, making it easy to get to from just about anywhere. The Madison Children’s Museum has over a dozen awesome exhibits where kids can do hands-on learning on everything from art to recycling to composting with worms.
They also have an ongoing calendar of events, activities, and even summer camps for kids of all ages! Be sure to stop by with the family whenever you’re in Madison, and check out all of the delicious restaurants and coffee shops that surround the area.
#7 Henry Vilas Zoo
The Henry Vilas Zoo is a staple for people of all ages visiting Madison. From the hands-on children’s zoo to the petting zoo, there is something for everyone at this tourist must-see.
And the best part? The Henry Vilas Zoo is always FREE! So stop by and see all of your favorites, from lemurs to penguins right here in Madison.
#8 The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art (MMoCA)
The MMoCA is an art museum dedicated to showcasing the most notable works of today’s artists, along with hosting events like concerts, lectures, and art fairs. Plus, it’s right on the lakefront!
Located within walking distance of Capitol Square and the Monona Terrace, this place is a fantastic way to spend your time in Madison if you’re an art lover. It’s fun, it’s interactive, and it’s educational all at once.
#9 Memorial Union Terrace
One of the most popular tourist attractions in Madison is the Memorial Union Terrace. This spot is almost 100 years old! And it’s been providing the campus with the perfect spot to eat lunch, study, or catch up with friends. And it has the best view on campus, seated right on the lakefront. Read about its interesting history here, then stop by to soak in the sights.
#10 Lake Mendota & Monona
And last, but not least, Madison may not sit on a Great Lake like its neighbor Milwaukee, but it is home to Lake Mendota and Monona. As we know, Minnesota and Wisconsin are both home to many lakes, and downtown Madison just wouldn’t be the same without it.
Just about everywhere you go in Madison is blocks away from a lakefront. And these lakes can be enjoyed all year round with boating in the summer and ice skating in the winter. Be sure to check them out when you’re in town!
Madison Is Also Home to the Best Contractor Around
DuraShield is a leading roofing and general contractor providing dependable roofing and storm damage solutions for residents all around Madison and Wisconsin. We love being a part of such a vibrant and beautiful community.
Our work ensures that residents of Madison (and beyond) get a roof they love and trust. Then, they can worry about the things that matter most: spending time with their family at all of their favorite spots in town.
If you’re in need of roofing repairs or replacement, please reach out to Durashield, today!