- For other places with the same name, see Madison (disambiguation).
Madison, the capital of Wisconsin, is situated on an isthmus between Lake Mendota and Lake Monona. As the anchor of the Greater Madison Area, it is home to the University of Wisconsin — Madison, one of the premier universities in the United States. It is a vibrant city known for its natural beauty, vibrant cultural scene, and academic excellence. Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities such as hiking, biking, and exploring the city's many museums and art galleries. The city is also known for its diverse and delicious food options.
- Isthmus — Madison's downtown area, home to museums, shopping, dining, and great lake views along with diverse neighborhoods
- North — Primarily residential with minimal shopping areas, large public natural areas
- South Central — Home to vast public natural areas, such as the UW Arboretum and Olin-Turville Park, and the Alliant Energy Center/Dane County Coliseum
- West — Unique shopping and dining, retail chains, interesting attractions, quaint neighborhoods
- East — Similar to the West with unique shopping and dining, retail chains, interesting attractions, quaint neighborhoods
Madison is a fairly large city in south central Wisconsin. One of only two cities in North America on an isthmus (the other is Seattle), Madison is defined by its five lakes: Mendota, Monona, Wingra, Waubesa, and Kegonsa. Through a combination of factors, including the state capital and the University of Wisconsin–Madison, the city has more to offer than might be expected from a metropolitan area of about 500,000. Madison has many excellent restaurants, an active theater community, a great music scene, and good shopping. Madison is also minutes away from a beautiful rural countryside featuring larger fields and a more scenic and hilly terrain, depending on which direction one travels outside of the city.
National groups and magazines rank Madison highly for being a very bike-friendly city, a great place to raise a family, having a healthy and fit population, and an overall high quality of life. Madison is a melting pot of the Midwest. You'll find professionals, students, families, hippies, musicians and everything in between. It has a vibrant nightlife scene with lots of live music and pubs. It shares many qualities of other well-known college towns like Berkeley and Austin—a creative and educated population—but retains a small-town feel.
Madison's weather is typical of the Midwest: warm and humid in summer, often very cold in winter, and temperate spring and fall conditions.
- 1 Madison Welcome Center, 21 N Park St, ☏ +1 608 262-4636. M-F 9AM-4:30PM.
- 2 Downtown Visitor Center, 452 State St, ☏ +1 608 255-1008, [email protected]. January–May 11AM-2PM.
- 1 Dane County Regional Airport (MSN IATA). Northeast of downtown Madison, 15 minutes to the Capitol and the university by car or taxi. There are daily flights to nearby hubs including Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Minneapolis, and Denver. Nonstop service is also offered to cities like Atlanta, Newark, New York City, and Washington, D.C..
- I-39/I-90/I-94 runs along the eastern edge of Madison.
- Just over an hour to get to Milwaukee on I-94.
- 2 hr 15 min to get to Chicago O'Hare Airport on I-90. Downtown Chicago is 30-45 minutes further, depending on traffic.
- Four hours on the combined I-90/I-94 will take you to Minneapolis/Saint Paul.
- VanGalder Bus. From Chicago O'Hare Airport to the University of Wisconsin campus; the stop is on Langdon Street just west of Lake Street, across from the Pyle Center. Tickets are $30.50 for a one-way trip and they can be bought from the bus drivers for exact change, or with credit cards, check or cash at the Memorial Union Travel Center.
- From Milwaukee the Badger Bus; +1-877-292-8259; runs multiple trips per day between Madison and Milwaukee. Has multiple stops, including downtown, in both cities; makes stops at Mitchell Int'l. Airport in Milwaukee. Will also stop at Johnson Creek on demand (tickets must be purchased in advance online).
- Megabus. Low-cost bus company that offers service to Madison from Chicago (several times daily), Milwaukee (4 times daily), and Minneapolis-Saint Paul (4 times daily). Fares can be as little as $1 each way if ordered far enough in advance. Megabus serves two stops in Madison, one on Langdon Street just west of Lake Street, across from the Pyle Center on the University of Wisconsin campus, and another at the bus shelter at the Dutch Mill Park & Ride, located on the northeast side of the US Route 12/18 and US Route 51 intersection. The stop at the Memorial Union is more centrally located, and a much better stop to get off at if you'll be staying in central Madison without a car. Also, none of the services to Milwaukee nor the daytime services to Minneapolis-Saint Paul stop at Dutch Mill.
- Greyhound. Service from Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and Chicago.
- Via Columbus, Amtrak travels east to Milwaukee and Chicago and west to Minneapolis on the Empire Builder route. Columbus is a 30 minute drive north of Madison.
- Amtrak also connects to Madison from Chicago via Thruway bus, operated by VanGalder.
You can get around much of Madison on the Metro bus system ($2 single trip, $5 day ticket). Coverage becomes spotty and travel times extensive as you get further away from the isthmus, so a car is practically a necessity for regular travel outside the city center.
On-street parking in the center of Madison - the isthmus - tends to be scarce (and permits, issued annually, are required), but a number of parking garages are sprinkled throughout the area. Street parking further from the center is plentiful and free. A map of parking garages, rates, and parking regulations in the downtown area can be found at the City of Madison parking page. For most lots on the University of Wisconsin campus permits, issued annually only to university employees, are required. There are a few lots that offer public parking. Full details on parking lots, rates and regulations on the UW campus can be found here. The best advice for parking on the UW campus is to read signs at lot entrances and believe what they say (UW parking enforcement is highly vigilant and on duty 24 hours a day). If you are driving from one end of the city to another, the Beltline is a commonly used route.
Uber and Lyft are both available in Madison. There are also several cab companies and when downtown there is never a taxi far from sight. That said, taxis operate on an appointment-only basis, so be sure to call at least 15-20 minutes before you need a ride (allow for more time during busy periods or inclement weather). With most of the cab companies you can also make a reservation for a specific time by calling at least 24 hours in advance - this is highly advisable if you are going to take a cab to the airport.
Madison has consistently been rated among America's most bicycle-friendly cities, and the city maintains a map of Madison's bike paths.
- 1 The Memorial Union Terrace, 800 Langdon St, ☏ +1 608-265-3000. A lovely terrace which overlooks beautiful Lake Mendota. Be sure to sample Babcock Ice Cream, made locally at Babcock Dairy Hall, whose profits help fund the UW-Madison dairy program. The Memorial Union also features a wide variety of local and regional beers - perfect for sipping (note: Union membership or University affiliation required to buy alcoholic beverages, but one-day guest passes can be obtained) while listening to live music, or enjoying the view with friends. Boat rentals are also available for the more active crowd.
- 2 Monona Terrace, 1 John Nolen Dr, ☏ +1 608-261-4000, fax: +1 608-261-4049, [email protected]. Daily 8AM-5PM. From the roof of Monona Terrace, one can see views of downtown Madison, including the Capitol and a panoramic view of Lake Monona. There are weekly events during the summer, including Dane Dances, concerts on the rooftop, and free Tai Chi.
- State Street. The core of the city is State Street, which extends from the Capitol Building west to the UW campus. This is the center of activity in Madison and is a must-visit. You will find unique shops, restaurants, bars, sidewalk cafes, coffee houses, museums, and an array of street performers. State Street is well-known for its yearly Halloween celebration, called "Freakfest". Maxwell Street Days is held on State Street the third weekend of July each year.
- Monroe Street. Cute, colorful, and catering to near-west Yuppies. Most of the businesses on Monroe are concentrated near Regent Street just past Camp Randall Stadium, and it includes unique curiosities such as a flatbread pizza shop, an oriental rug outlet, a Belgian restaurant, and a store that specializes in home brewing & winery materials.
- Midvale Neighborhood A handful of closely-connected neighborhoods off of Midvale Blvd on Madison's near- to middle-west side. Beautiful parks and some original Madison architecture. Check out Hilldale mall, which includes a Sundance cinema and many small boutiques and local shops and restaurants. Hilldale is a more low-key alternative to State Street or Monroe Street for dinner out or shopping.
- Willy Street. The center of the free-spirited hippie neighborhoods of Madison's near east side. Williamson Street, affectionately referred to by locals as "Willy Street," is home to several co-ops, dive bars, and head shops. Some of the best restaurants in Madison are located past the Yahara River, where Williamson turns into Winnebago Street and intersects with Atwood.
- East Johnson Street This up-and-coming neighborhood contains a small selection of cheap, high-quality shops and cafés that will give the average Madison hipster wet dreams. Everything of interest is concentrated between Brearly and Blount streets.
- East Washington Avenue (East Wash). An up and coming area, East Washington Avenue, affectionately referred to as East Wash by locals, features several new bars and restaurants. There are numerous new and proposed buildings in the East Wash area, with many planned to feature dining.
- 3 Henry Vilas Zoo, 702 S Randall Ave, ☏ +1 608-266-4732. Daily 9:30AM-5PM. Founded in 1914, this is one of the few free zoos left in the country. The zoo houses over 40 species within its 30-acre grounds, and additional attractions include a zoo train, carousel and a children's play area complete with tree house. Free admission and parking, donations welcome.
- 4 Olbrich Botanical Gardens, 3330 Atwood Ave, ☏ +1 608-246-4550, fax: +1 608-246-4719. These 16 free outdoor gardens have many ponds and greens, as well as the only Thai Pavilion in the continental United States. There is a $6 fee to enter the conservatory, which houses over 650 exotics and tropicals.
- 5 UW Arboretum, 1207 Seminole Hwy, ☏ +1 608 263-7888. A massive, man-made nature reserve that has been carefully planned out with several different types of forests and plant species. Excellent for bike rides, birdwatching, cross-country skiing, and long walks.
- 6 Wisconsin State Capitol. The State Capitol Building, modeled after the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., was finished in 1912 after the previous Capitol Building burnt down. Its dome is one of the largest in the world in terms of volume. The mural under the dome is actually hanging from the top. Tours leave many times a day, always at the top of the hour at certain hours, and tour the Senate, Assembly, Hearing Room, and Governor's Cabinet Room. There is also an observation deck 90 feet up open Memorial Day to Labor Day.
- 7 Governor's Mansion, ☏ +1 608-246-5501. The mansion of the governor of the state of Wisconsin is located in nearby Maple Bluff, right on Lake Mendota. Tours are offered every Thursday during the summer and several times during the month of December. Free.
- 8 Wisconsin Veterans Museum, 30 W Mifflin St, ☏ +1 608-267-1799. Chronicles the sacrifices made by Wisconsin Veterans from the American Civil War to the present day. The 20th Century gallery of the museum includes full-size replicas of a World War I Sopwith Camel biplane and a P-51 Mustang, as well as an authentic Huey Helicopter.
- 9 Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, 227 State St, ☏ +1 608-257-0158. A unique three-story collection of works created by artists based in Madison and beyond, containing many interactive exhibits and free tours which you can listen to on your cell phone. The fourth floor houses an upscale restaurant and bar, and offers a magnificent view of State Street. Free.
- 10 Chazen Museum of Art, 800 University Ave, ☏ +1 608-263-2246. A classic art exhibit inside the University of Wisconsin's art school, containing several different sections ranging from ancient sculptures to modern-day photography. The exhibits are changed regularly, and the museum is quiet and uncrowded. Free.
- 11 UW-Madison Geology Museum, 1215 West Dayton Street, ☏ +1 608-262 2399. M-F 8:30AM-4:30PM, Sa 9AM-1PM. A geology and paleontology museum exhibiting ancient past through rocks, fossils, and meteorites. Free.
- 12 L. R. Ingersoll Physics Museum, 1215 West Dayton Street, ☏ +1 608-262-4526, [email protected]. M-F 8AM-4PM, closed on public and school holidays. Hands-on physics museum with exhibits demonstrating basic physical concepts, from mechanics to atomics, some historical instruments on display. Closest parking lot is Lot 20. Free.
- 13 Madison Children's Museum, 100 N Hamilton St, ☏ +1 608-256-6445. A children's museum next to the State Capitol. The whimsical and mind-bending interactive exhibits will delight both adults and children alike. $12.
- 14 Herbert and Katherine Jacobs House. One of eight buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright to be listed as a world-heritage site.
- 1 Overture Center, 501 State St, ☏ +1 608-258-4177. This venue is home to Madison's most prominent performing arts organizations, including the Madison Ballet, Opera, Symphony, Repertory Theater, and Children's Theater. The facilities also include the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, and galleries housing work by local visual artists. The building itself is gorgeous - the rooftop garden is particularly impressive - and well worth a stop as one meanders down State street. Private tours are available.
- Token Creek Chamber Music Festival. An annual festival held every August featuring great classical music in an intimate, rural setting.
- Great Taste of the Midwest, 1156 Olin-Turville Ct. This beer festival, put on by the Madison Homebrewers and Tasters Guild, is one of the biggest in the nation, with over one hundred brewpubs and microbreweries in attendance, and over 5,000 guests. The number of tickets is limited, and the popularity of this event means that they typically sell out within days.
- Concerts on the Square. This very popular weekly summer concert series by the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra is held on the grounds of the State Capitol. Attendees sit on the lawn around the building, and most people bring a blanket to spread on the ground and picnic foods to eat. Free.
- 2 Mifflin Street Block Party. A massive student-run block party held on the first Saturday of every May. Several blocks of West Mifflin Street are cordoned off for drinking, music, and food in what is one of the largest public gatherings in the country. Keep an eye out for overzealous policemen - read the stay safe section for more information. Free.
- Taste of Madison, Capitol Square. Held Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day weekend. Showcases many local restaurants, in addition to beverage stands and 3 entertainment stages. Participating restaurants sell a vast variety of unique and traditional dishes in small portions - one of their advertising taglines is that nothing costs over $4. No admission fee.
- 3 Dane County Farmer's Market. Runs year-round, outdoors from April to November, indoors from November to April. Outdoor market located on Capitol Square on Saturdays, on Martin Luther King Jr Blvd on Wednesdays. Indoor market held at Monona Terrace before Christmas/New Year's Day, at Madison Senior Center after the holidays. The largest producer-only farmers’ market in the country. All items are produced locally by the vendor running the stand. No admission fee.
- Ironman Wisconsin Triathlon. Held the Sunday following Labor Day Weekend. Start/finish area located downtown at Monona Terrace and Martin Luther King Jr Blvd. Swimming in Lake Monona (with excellent views from Monona Terrace rooftop). Cycling and marathon held on streets of Madison and roads of Dane County. No admission fee.
- Wisconsin Badgers, Several venues on the UW Campus, ☏ +1 608-262-1866 (for general info), toll-free: +1-800-GO-BADGERS (46-2234377) (for ticket info). University of Wisconsin intercollegiate athletic program fields teams in 23 NCAA Division I men's and women's sports. Fields highly competitive teams in football, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's ice hockey and women's volleyball. Football and men's basketball sellout and tickets can be very difficult to obtain, but tickets for other sports can be readily available, often at low prices except for hockey. $0-120.
- Art Fair On The Square, Captiol Square. Held second weekend of July. Features works for sale by more than 400 exhibiting artists. Mixed media, ceramics, drawings, graphics, prints, fiber, leather, furniture, glass, jewelry, metal, paintings, photographs, sculpture, 3D mixed media, and wood. Artists from all over the United States apply to exhibit and sell their works. Organized by Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Free.
- Art Fair Off The Square, Martin Luther King Jr Blvd. Held concurrent and adjacent to Art Fair on the Square on second weekend of July, but features only Wisconsin artists. More than 100 exhibitors each year. Free.
- 4 Madison Mallards, The Duck Pond at Warner Park; 2920 N Sherman Ave, ☏ +1 608-246-4277. Collegiate summer baseball team that is part of the Northwoods League. A number of Mallards have gone on to play in the Major Leagues. Tip: If you catch a foul ball, return it and get a free hot dog.
- 5 The Orpheum Theater (The Orpehum), 216 State Street, ☏ +1 608-250-2600, [email protected]. A unique entertainment venue, The Orpheum features local and national musical and comedy acts in its charming and historic building. The Orpheum's sign is a State Street and Madison icon, listed in the Wisconsin State Journal's "Madison in 100 Objects" in 2015. Price varies with event.
- 6 Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison, 4002 Evan Acres Rd, ☏ +1 608-223-9576, [email protected]. Slots and keno only, no table games. Smoke-free.
- 3 University of Wisconsin-Madison (In the center of town), ☏ +1 608-263-2400. The university has been in operation since 1848, with more than 41,000 students enrolled each year.
- 4 Edgewood College, 1000 Edgewood College Dr (on Lake Wingra near the UW-Madison Arboretum), toll-free: +1-800-444-4861. A small, Catholic, liberal arts college.
- 5 Madison Area Technical College, 3550 Anderson St, ☏ +1 608-246-6100. MATC has several campuses in Madison and surrounding communities and offers a variety of two-year programs as well as non-credit courses.
- Madison Public Library. All Madison public libraries offer free wireless internet access. Computers with internet access are also available, but time limits may vary.
The largest employers are the Wisconsin state government and the University of Wisconsin. Additionally, there are a growing number of hi-tech employers and jobs, particularly in the biotechnology field. Madison has a very low unemployment rate compared to the national average.
- 1 East Towne Mall, ☏ +1 608-244-1387. M-Sa 10AM-9PM, Su 11AM-6PM. A standard shopping mall on the east side of Madison, not far from I-39/I-90/I-94.
- 2 West Towne Mall, ☏ +1 608-833-6330. M-Sa 10AM-9PM, Su 11AM-6PM. A standard shopping mall on the west side of Madison.
- 3 Madcity Music Exchange, 2023 Atwood Ave, ☏ +1 608-251-8558. M-F 11AM-7PM, Sa 10AM-5PM, Su noon-5PM. An independent music store featuring a very large selection of new and used vinyl records. A diverse selection of new and used CDs are also on hand for a healthy sized non-vinyl inventory.
- 4 Hilldale Mall, 702 N Midvale Blvd (Right off University and Midvale). M-Sa 10AM-9PM, Su 11AM-6PM. Lots of independent stores, Morgan's Shoes, Playthings, Fair Indigo, etc. Also has some bigger more well known stores; Macy's, Anthropology, The North Face, Bath and Body Works. Has a grocery store, and also one of Robert Redford's Sundance Cinemas. Many restaurants, sit-down or to-go. Also nail and hair salons are present. Very nice, upper-scale mall.
- 5 WILLY Tech Shop (Madison's Original MacShop), 804 Williamson St, ☏ +1 608-270-4444. M-F 10AM-6PM, Sa 10AM-3PM. Madison’s independent, locally-owned, full-service technology resource offering sales, service & training. Features a great selection of tech products including their own unique "ECO shop" of green tech products, local artists products, used Macs, iPods & more. Very warm and welcoming as the tech shop where everybody knows your name. Be sure to "say hi" to their very popular store mascot "iFish" when visiting.
Madison is said to have the highest number of restaurants per capita in the entire United States. The sheer diversity of and intense competition among Madison's restaurants is enough to put any city of similar size to shame (as well as many larger cities!), making Madison one of the best cities in the country to be a foodie. Take your time to make a selection; you could spend years in Madison without seeing half of what the restaurant scene has to offer.
As Madison is in Wisconsin, don't miss the frozen custard, with local chain Michael's being a firm favorite among locals for this sweet treat.
- Food carts, Library Mall (at the end of State St, away from the Capitol). Look out for food carts, some of Madison's best sources for a quick bite, clustered at the end of State Street near Memorial Library from spring to fall. Buraka, Jamerica, Zen Sushi are excellent, and don't miss Loose Juice smoothies! $5-6 lunch with a view of the lake within a 2-minute walk. There are also a growing number of food carts on and near Capitol Square.
- 1 Nam's Noodles, 1336 Regent St, ☏ +1 608-287-0475. Excellent Chinese food close to the university. Their "Nam's Fried Rice" is outstanding. Sit-down or take-out, no delivery.
- 2 Ian's Pizza, 319 N Frances St, ☏ +1 608 -57-0597. And 115 State St. Campus favorite with a gourmet twist. Excellent New York-sized pizza by the slice, featuring old standards like pepperoni and new variations like mac and cheese (don't knock it until you've tried it -- it's the top seller!), Black Bean Feta Avocado and Steak 'n' Fries. Daily and monthly specials served by the most charming staff in town.
- 3 Mediterranean Cafe, 625 State St, ☏ +1 608-251-8510. This narrow room is a Madison gem and a favorite with the university crowd. Great Middle Eastern food, such as shawerma (similar to gyros) and felafel (fried chickpeas). Almost always busy, but it moves fast.
- 4 Mickies Dairy Bar, 1511 Monroe St, ☏ +1 608-256-9476. A classic diner close to the University, and right across from the football stadium. It has among the best shakes in town. If you think you can eat a lot, try the scrambler. It is cash only and is always packed full of people on game day.
- 5 Greenbush Bakery, 1402 Regent St, ☏ +1 608-257-1151. Excellent doughnuts, which just happen to be kosher. Must try the cream filled doughnuts, and the apple fritters are literally big enough to feed the whole family.
- 6 Madison Sourdough Bread Company, 916 Williamson St, ☏ +1 608-442-8009. M-Sa 6:30AM-5PM, Su 8AM-5PM. Breakfast and lunch are served until 2:30PM daily. Excellent, fresh sourdough bread can be found here. Try their baguette - artisanal bread at its best. It can be found at some local grocery stores, including Willy Street Co-op.
- 7 Greenbush Bar, 914 Regent St, ☏ +1 608-257-2874. In a town of many great pizza places, this is one of the best thin-crispy-crust pizzas you'll find. It's in the basement of the Italian Workman's Club building in what was Greenbush, Madison's long-gone Italian district.
- 8 Himal Chuli, 318 State St (on State St 300 block), ☏ +1 608-251-9225. Excellent Nepalese food, cozy atmosphere. Some of the most delicious food in Madison and you always feel good after you have eaten here because it is healthy as well. Try the momochas or anything else.
- 9 Glass Nickel Pizza, 5003 University Ave, ☏ +1 608-333-4845. On the corner of Whitney Way and University Ave. A large menu to choose from including: pizza, salads, pasta, and numerous appetizers. The fetalicious is a Madison favorite.
- 10 The Green Owl Cafe, 1970 Atwood Ave, ☏ +1 608-285-5290. M-Th 11AM-9PM, F Sa 11AM-10PM, Su 11AM-3PM. Vegetarian cuisine created by chef/proprietor Jennie Capellaro. $5-12.
- 11 Umami Ramen & Dumpling Bar (Umami), 923 Williamson St (btw Paterson & Brearly), ☏ +1 608-819-6319. M-Th 5PM-10PM, F Sa 5PM-11PM, Su 5-9PM. Authentic Japanese ramen and Chinese dumplings, including pork buns and other Asian comfort foods. Vegetarian friendly. $7-15.
- 12 L'Etoile, 1 S Pinckney St, ☏ +1 608-251-0500. Open M-Th at 6PM, F at 5:30PM, Sa at 5PM. Nationally-acclaimed restaurant focusing on locally grown ingredients, often found at the Farmer's Market. While pricey, it is worth it. Make reservations in advance.
- 13 Harvest Restaurant, 21 N Pinckney St, ☏ +1 608-255-6075. M-Th 5:30PM-close, F Sa 5PM-close. Next door to L'Etoile, it is nearly as good and more likely to offer a reservation on the same day.
- 14 Tornado Club Steak House, 116 S Hamilton St, ☏ +1 608-256-3570. American-style steak house that also serves excellent cocktails. Not cheap, but offers late-night dining.
- 15 Samba Brazilian Grill, 240 W Gilman St, ☏ +1 608-257-1111. Just off of State Street, Samba delivers table-side meat service, in the churrascaria fashion, and a massive gourmet salad bar. Rather pricey for Madison, but it is all-you-can eat. Pace yourself and practice self-control! $40.
- 16 Harvey House, 644 W. Washington Ave, ☏ +1 608-250-9578. Tu-Th 5-9PM, F Sa 4:30-9:30PM. Dinner and cocktails in this remodeled train depot and train car surely will not disappoint. The menu is comprised of modern takes on Wisconsin supper clubs with a 1920s-1940s aesthetic throughout the restaurant. It is highly recommended to get reservations more than a couple weeks in advance as reservations fill up quickly.
Bars, brewpubs, and burgers
Madison is well known for upholding the Wisconsin "supper club" tradition, offering a variety of German-inspired establishments that serve top-notch American food during the day, convert into bars late at night, and give you an absolutely unrivaled selection of beer regardless of whether it's 10AM or 1AM.
- 1 The Old Fashioned, 23 N Pinckney St, ☏ +1 608-310-4545. Right on the Square, with a great view of the Capitol, it serves supper club fare with a slightly upscale bent in a warm, lively atmosphere. From deep-fried cheese curds to artisanal cheese plates, from pickled eggs to Nueske's bacon and natural-casing bratwurst, this is the perfect place to go before a performance nearby. Busy, but well worth it. The Old Fashioned also has one of the largest beer menus you will ever see. Do not miss the fried cheese curds - they are widely regarded as the best in town. They also have a great Saturday brunch.
- 2 The Essen Haus, 514 E Wilson St, ☏ +1 608-255-4674. Great beer, great atmosphere - and the perfect example of the thriving German culture in Madison. With live Oompah music nightly, you'll be drinking all of your beer from a boot from now on!
- Great Dane Brew Pub (3 locations). A very large selection of hand-crafted microbrews and excellent food, including fresh-baked pretzels and several vegetarian selections; each location has similar menus with subtle tweaks and different atmospheres.
- 6 Dotty Dumpling's Dowry, 317 N Frances St, ☏ +1 608-285-5290. M-W 11AM-11PM, Th-Sa 11AM-1AM, Su noon-10PM. If you're looking for a good burger in Madison, this is the place to be. Dotty's serves one of the best burgers in Madison, if not the very best. $8-15.
- 7 Village Bar, 3801 Mineral Point Rd. Across the street from the Glenway Golf Course. This friendly neighborhood bar dates back over 65 years when Westmorland was a village outside the City of Madison. The fried summer sausage sandwiches are great.
- 8 The Weary Traveler, 1201 Williamson St, ☏ +1 608-442-6207. A decent local bar/restaurant consistently packed with friendly locals from the Willy St Neighborhood. The service can be a bit slow, but the food is great. Don't forget to try their specialty: the Bad Breath Burger.
- 9 The Esquire Club, 1025 N Sherman Ave, ☏ +1 608-249-0193. Another fabulous all-you-can-eat Friday fish fry place with a great Wisconsin supper-club atmosphere. Very busy on Friday nights, so you may want to make a reservation and/or plan to hang out in the bar for a while.
- 10 The Plaza Tavern, 319 North Henry Street, ☏ +1 608-255-6592. M-Th 11AM-2AM, F Sa 11AM-2:30AM; grill 11AM-10:45PM. The Plaza Tavern has been a part of downtown life in Madison since Prohibition, and is well-known for its sumptuous "Plazaburger." You can't go wrong visiting the Plaza Tavern for good food and sports watching.
- Ancora Coffee Roaster. Four locations around town that feature excellent coffee. Try the fabulous white coffee.
- EVP Coffee. Four locations around Madison.
- Victor Allen's Coffee. Several locations around town; another popular local coffee roaster.
- Steep & Brew Coffee. State St. Two Madison locations, including one on State Street. Excellent selection of delicious coffees and teas.
- 11 Michelangelo's Coffee House, 114 State St, ☏ +1 608-251-5299. Every day 7AM-11PM. Sandwiches, pastries, coffee and other drinks make up the menu at this comfy downtown meeting and reading spot.
- 1 Best Western Premier Park Hotel, 22 S Carroll St, ☏ +1 608-285-8000. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Madison's only Capitol Square hotel. Has a pool. The Best Western Plus Inn on the Park is a full-service hotel on the Capitol Square in downtown Madison, Wisconsin – ideal for business or vacation lodging near the University of Wisconsin – Madison campus, Monona Terrace Convention Center, Overture Center, and the Kohl Center. Free valet parking, free wi-fi, free airport and campus shuttle.
- 2 Best Western InnTowner and the Highland Club. Located on the near west side of the UW campus in a quiet neighborhood, next to the UW/VA Hospitals and just a short drive from State Street. Free wireless high-speed Internet and shuttle. Its concierge-level floor, the Highland Club won Best Western's "Best of the Best" design award for its renovation.
- 3 Concourse Hotel, 1 W Dayton St, toll-free: +1-800-356-8293. Larger, nicer hotel one block from the Capitol Square and one block from the Overture Center for the Performing Arts.
- 4 Graduate Madison, 601 Langdon St, ☏ +1 608-257-4391, [email protected].
- 5 Doubletree Madison, 525 W Johnson St, ☏ +1 608-251-5511. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Formerly the Howard Johnson, this smaller hotel is very close to the University (one block from the Kohl Center) and not too far from the Capitol. Free wireless Internet access.
- 6 Edgewater Hotel, 1001 Wisconsin Pl, ☏ +1 608-535-8200. Luxury hotel on Lake Mendota at the beginning of Langdon Street, this hotel is about eight blocks from the university. Be sure to sit out on the pier during the summer.
- 7 Hilton Madison, 9 E Wilson St, ☏ +1 608-255-5100. Complementing Madison's historic charm, this 14-story, 236-room hotel is named the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center headquarters. Two blocks from the State Capitol on the shores of Lake Monona, the hotel has some of the city's best views. Indoors, an elegant parlor and lobby set the tone for a first-class stay. Take advantage of a state-of-the-art fitness center and indoor pool overlooking the lake. Or retreat to the 14th-private Executive Club Floor for panoramic cityscapes.
- 8 Sheraton Madison, 706 John Nolen Dr, ☏ +1 608 251-2300. On John Nolen Drive and within walking distance of the Alliant Energy Exposition Center, with 237 rooms and suites. Shuttle service is available to and from the Dane County Airport. Ample complimentary parking for guests. The Heartland Grill and Prairie Cafe serve throughout the day, with Harvest Lounge open every evening.
- 9 Baymont Inn & Suites Madison West, 8102 Excelsior Dr, ☏ +1 608-831-7711. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. In the growing west side business district. Free high speed internet, breakfast. Kids stay free and will enjoy the huge indoor pool, whirlpool and game room.
- 10 Comfort Suites Madison West Hotel, 1253 John Q Hammons Dr, ☏ +1 608-820-2370. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Features a cocktail lounge, indoor pool, whirlpool, oversized suites and free breakfast. Two-story suites and whirlpool suites available. Walking distance to Greenway Station Shopping Center.
- 11 Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Madison West, 1109 Fourier Dr, ☏ +1 608-826-0500. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Home to Crawdaddy Cove Indoor Water Park. Water Park passes are included with your room.
- 12 GrandStay-Madison, 5317 High Crossing Blvd, ☏ +1 608-241-2500. Suites.
- 13 Hampton Inn & Suites Madison West, 483 Commerce Dr, ☏ +1 608-271-0200. Complimentary breakfast, free high-speed Internet access, indoor pool area, whirlpool, fitness center and 100% satisfaction guarantee.
- 14 Magnuson Grand Hotel Madison, 3510 Millpond Rd, toll-free: +1-877-747-8713. Near Interstates 90/94/39. 100 room, 4 floors, pet friendly hotel.
Bed and breakfasts, specialty lodging
- 15 Mansion Hill Inn, 424 N Pinckney St, toll-free: +1-800-798-9070. Madison's only AAA Four Diamond property, this Victorian bed and breakfast is about five blocks up the street from the Capitol and ten blocks from the university.
- 16 Countryside Apartments, 2801 Coventry Trail, ☏ +1 608-271-0101. Short-term housing in apartments with one to three bedrooms. They also provide rental cars.
Madison's telephone area code is 608. This telephone code covers much of Southwestern and South Central Wisconsin. The area code must be dialed before all phone numbers in the district.
Many businesses will offer Wi-Fi. Computers are available at locations of the Madison Public Library.
Overall, Madison is a very safe city. However, as with all cities, be cautious at all times and pay attention to your surroundings. The downtown area is well populated and fairly well lit. South Madison is considered to be the "bad" part of town, and has a higher crime rate than the rest of the city. The areas that are recommended to avoid at night are isolated bike paths/alleys, Allied Drive, Badger Road, South Park Street (South of Regent Street) and also Britta Drive, Britta Parkway and Helene Parkway in the Dunn's Marsh Neighborhood, as well as Troy Drive on Madison's North Side. Bright red emergency markers are posted around the University of Wisconsin campus and its Lakeshore Path; press the button and the police should show up very quickly.
The Madison police are generally lax on drinking and rowdiness. However, they significantly step up enforcement during the weekends of Halloween and the Mifflin Street Block Party, and have even brought in riot police to disperse nonviolent crowds. Hundreds of arrests are made every year during these two events. The police will not hesitate to arrest you for extremely minor offenses - the most common being underage drinking, open containers in public, and public urination. Do not urinate in public under any circumstances (the police check alleys and corners for this specifically), and if you're underage, don't get obscenely drunk and call any attention to yourself. During Mifflin, make sure you drink only on private property; the police will immediately arrest anyone who attempts to walk down the sidewalk or cross the street with an open container. Out-of-towners make up a significant portion of the arrested every year, and the city responds by clamping down on the students — don't ruin Madison for the rest of us! Crimes do occur during the Mifflin Block Party. Robberies, assaults and sexual assaults have also occurred in past years. It's still a good idea to be careful around Mifflin during the party.
A tip to motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists: each should always be on the look out for the other two. This is especially true downtown and in the area of the UW campus. Cars racing through red lights as they change, pedestrians crossing streets in the middle of the block with traffic present, and bicycles running red lights and weaving in and out of traffic are all commonplace, along with a number of other similar behaviors. Also, pedestrians on and near the UW campus should always be on the look out for students driving mopeds and scooters on sidewalks; even though this is illegal in the City of Madison it is quite common.
- The Cap Times (free, published Wednesday) is a liberal weekly paper focused on politics and local commerce and change.
- Isthmus (free) is a weekly paper focused on local news and events.
- Wisconsin State Journal is a daily paper offering local, national, and international news.
- 6 Cedar Grove Cheese, E5904 Mill Rd, Plain, ☏ +1 608-546-5284. A fun dairy about 30 miles west of Madison. One of the oldest dairies in the area, they make excellent cheese and purify their own water using a living machine.
- 7 Devil's Lake, S5975 Park Rd, Baraboo. The most popular of Wisconsin's state parks, Devil's Lake is about an hour northwest of Madison, south of Baraboo. It includes miles of hiking trails, some of them on bluffs of moraine overlooking the lake, created 10,000 years ago by the leading edge of the Wisconsin glacier. The park has two pleasant beaches, and you can hike, bike, boat, swim, climb, hunt, or fish. Gets crowded in the summer.
- 8 Dr. Evermore's Forevertron, Prairie Du Sac, ☏ +1 608-219-7830. An impressive junkyard sculpture garden, about 20 miles north of town. Fantastical animals, futuristic devices and creepy bugs all made out of rusting scrap metal.
- 9 Mustard Museum, 7477 Hubbard Avenue, Middleton (Just outside of Madison), ☏ +1 608-831-2222, toll-free: +1-800-438-6878. Daily 10AM-5PM. They sell over 800 varieties of mustard, all of which you can sample, and have more than 4,100 varieties on display.
- 10 New Glarus Brewing Company, 2400 State Hwy 69, New Glarus, ☏ +1 608-527-5850. An excellent brewery only 45 minutes from Madison in the very quaint Swiss town of New Glarus.
- Prairie du Sac hosts the annual Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw every Labor Day Weekend.
- Spring Green is home to a pair of architectural wonders: the House on the Rock, one of the weirdest museums you'll ever see, and Taliesin, the family home and architectural school founded by famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It's about 45 minutes west of Madison.
- Stoughton is famous for its Syttende Mai festival commemorating the Norwegian Constitution Day on May 17. Also home to Victorian Holiday in December the Stoughton Fair in July.
- 11 Ten Chimneys, S43 W31575 Depot Road, Genesee Depot (60 miles east of Madison in Genesee Depot), ☏ +1 262-968-4110. Tours May through mid-Nov: Tu-Sa, rain or shine. Ten Chimneys is the estate lovingly created by Broadway legends Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. Guests enjoy an excellent barrier-free, docent-led tour of the National Historic Landmark.
- 12 Circus World Museum, 550 Water St, Baraboo, ☏ +1 608-356-8341, toll-free: +1-866-693-1500, fax: +1-608-356-1800. The Circus World Museum is a fantastic look back at the history of the circus. The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College is nearby, as is The International Clown Hall of Fame and Research Center. Visiting the museum is sure to be a hit with the children.
- 13 The Midcontinent Railway Museum, 102 4th Ave, Baraboo, ☏ +1 608-852-6767. The Midcontinent Railway Museum is known by locals as "North Freedom" and has a beautiful selection of railway cars and history and exhibits, as well as train rides. A sure hit with any train buff, young or old.
- New Glarus. A quaint slice of Switzerland in Wisconsin, originally settled by Swiss immigrants from the canton of Glarus. Come here to see the Swiss-inspired buildings of the village center, and to try some local Swiss-German cuisine. Also known for the New Glarus Brewing Company, whose beer is only sold within the state of Wisconsin, and for the cheesemaking industry in the surrounding region as a result of the inhabitants' Swiss heritage.
|Routes through Madison|
|Wausau/Rochester ← Portage ←||N/W S/E||→ Janesville → Rockford|
|Saint Paul ← Portage ←||W E||→ Johnson Creek → Milwaukee|
|Wisconsin Dells ← Prairie du Sac ←||NW SE||→ Whitewater → Lake Geneva|
|La Crosse ← Spring Green ←||NW SE||→ Janesville → Harvard|
|Prairie du Chien ← Verona ←||W E||→ Waukesha → Milwaukee|
|Wausau ← Portage ←||N S||→ Stoughton → Janesville|
|Dubuque ← Verona ←||SW NE||→ Columbus → Manitowoc|