10 Things to Do in Madison, WI for First Time Visitors

Midwest living is very different from coastal living, and that’s something you’ll never understand unless you’ve visited places in the area. Wisconsin may be famously known as the land of cheese and dairy, but there’s more to this place than you could possibly imagine. One of the best places to visit in Wisconsin is the city of Madison, the capital city of the beautiful Midwest state. Madison is surrounded by Lake Monona and Lake Mendota, which is one of the reasons why the city area offers stunning views. If you’ve been thinking of visiting Madison, here are 10 things that you must visit and experience, especially if you’re going to the city for the first time.

1. Wisconsin State Capitol

Located right at the heart of downtown, you can’t possibly miss the stunning architecture of the State Capitol. Given that Madison is the capital of Wisconsin, this place is an absolute must-see. You can spend some time exploring the beautiful grounds on a good day, or you can take the guided tour of the building for more in-depth information.

2. Chazen Museum of Art

If you’re looking for some cultural inspiration, visiting this museum will do you just right. It’s the perfect way to spend a day indoors, especially if the weather isn’t cooperating outside. This museum has an extensive collection of American art, but its rotating exhibits are always just as impressive.

3. Olbrich Botanical Gardens

There’s nothing more relaxing than a walk through a beautiful garden, and Olbrich happens to offer something that you really can’t find anywhere else. Situated right on the scenic waterfront of Madison, this botanical garden offers vibrancy and serenity year-round. You can relax under the ornate Thai pavilion at the garden or take a stroll through the Bolz Conservatory.

4. Wisconsin Historical Museum

It’s always good to immerse yourself in the history of any place you visit. In Madison, the best place to do this is at the Wisconsin Historical Museum. You can travel back in time through gorgeous exhibitions and galleries and learn all about what made Wisconsin the great state that it is today.

5. Henry Vilas Zoo

The Henry Vilas Zoo may have been around for 94 years now, but there’s nothing outdated about this establishment. The entire zoo spans an expansive 28 hectares in the city of Madison, so you could expect to see a large range of animals here. You can easily spend an entire day here and not get to see the zoo in its entirety. But that’s okay because you could always go back for more.

6. The Madison’s Children’s Museum

Whether you’re traveling with young visitors or feeling completely young at heart, a visit to the Madison’s Children’s Museum will always result to a lot of fun. This museum is full of interactive activities that children of all ages could enjoy. Go ahead and learning something new that you might have missed in school—this children’s museum makes learning fun and exciting for all. h

7. Lake Monona

You can’t leave Madison without spending some time in one of Madison’s stunning lakes. Lake Monona, which means “beautiful” in the local Chippewa language, is a favorite among locals. It remains frozen for most of the year, which is perfect for ice-skating if ever you get the chance. Otherwise, you could enjoy the lake by just being around it or even by boat.

8. Lake Kegonsa State Park

Madison may be a city, but it offers plenty of outdoor experiences that anyone can enjoy. If you want to spend some time in nature, Lake Kegonsa State Park offers great hiking trails, camping, and even a beach area for those looking for something different to do in the city. You can go fishing, boating, swimming, or water skiing at the lake.

9. Wisconsin Veterans Museum

There’s something about visiting a veterans museum that will leave you feeling nostalgic. Wisconsin happens to have an award-winning veterans museum that has displays that date back to the times of the Civil War. There’s plenty of history to admire in this museum, and you’ll leave feeling this place feeling absolutely inspired and patriotic.

10. Dane County Farmers Market

Experience one of the largest farmer’s markets in the nation that offers produce straight from growers and products straight from makers. The Dane County Farmer’s Market has over 200 stalls on a market day, and it’s held right in the middle of the city on Capitol Square. Enjoy music and street performances while you delve and devour local goods and delicacies.


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