Area Attractions

Bascom Hall and Abe Lincoln Statue

We Madisonians are proud of our city. It is one of the most diverse and exciting places to be in the summer. It’s impossible to cover all of Madison’s attractions, but we’ve compiled a list of some of Madison’s most universally loved pastimes.

1. The Dane County Farmer’s Market

Whether you go for cheese curds or the fresh vegetables, there’s nothing like a sunny day at the Dane County Farmer’s Market. Every Saturday morning from 6:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Madisonians flock to Capitol Square as it transforms into one of the nation’s largest outdoor markets. With over 300 local vendors you can find everything from fresh flowers and plants, produce, baked goods, maple syrup, music, local artisans, spicy cheese bread, and of course, an impressive array of local cheeses.

2. The Memorial Union 

You haven’t had a true Madison experience until you’ve watched the sun set over Lake Mendota from the Memorial Union Terrace. Sit in one of their famous starburst chairs with food from their outdoor and indoor restaurants as live music plays in the background and boats sail in and out from the docks.

3. The Madison Children’s Museum

-Whether it be the chickens on the roof, the art studio or the indoor playground, every kid (and let’s be honest, adult) has his or her favorite spot at the Madison Children’s Museum. In addition to the permanent exhibits, you can browse their calendar for special events that are featured almost every week.

4. The Chazen

Located right in the central campus area, the Chazen Museum of Art features temporary exhibitions along with permanent museum collections.  The stunning architecture of the museum provides a backdrop for the artwork, which includes everything from modern sculpture, to ancient Egyptian art.

5. The Overture Center 

If you’re looking for a little culture during your visit, the Overture Center is the place to go. The Overture Center is Madison’s hub for the performing arts, and you can purchase tickets on its website for national and international touring shows, the Madison Opera, the Madison Symphony OrchestraMadison Ballet, and much more. You can also venture up to the building’s rooftop restaurant for a relaxing meal and stunning views of the city.

6. Wisconsin State Capitol

Modeled after our nation's capitol, with giant marble columns and an impressive rotunda, our capitol is a good stop for beautiful architecture and an inside look into Wisconsin happenings. It is free and open to the public with guided tours daily.

7. Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Groups and tours from all over the state, country and world come to Olbrich to enjoy an oasis of beauty on the shores of Lake Monona.

8. Concerts on the Square

Every Wednesday there are concerts on the square featuring a guest artist. Bring your dinner and a blanket or enjoy food from a local vendor as you listen to the phenomenal Madison Chamber Orchestra and guest performers. And that gorgeous capitol we mentioned? It will serve as the backdrop.

9. The Henry Vilas Zoo 

Lions, tigers and bears, oh my. The Henry Vilas Zoo is a free attraction in the heart of the city that is always a favorite among children of all ages

10.  Allen Centennial Gardens

Located on the corner of Babcock Street and Observatory Drive, in the University Housing Lakeshore Neighborhood, enjoy the beauty and tranquility with a walk through the gardens. Admission is free.

11. Babcock Hall Dairy Store

A trip to Wisconsin would not be complete without some of the famous ice cream or cheese made right here on the UW-Madison campus. Ask any local for flavor recommendations.