Madison is situated on an isthmus between Lake Mendota and Lake Monona, and was named after President James Madison. Places you need to stop by while visiting Madison, Wisconsin definitely include the Chazen Museum of Art and Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, along with some of the following attractions.
Wisconsin State Capitol
The Wisconsin State Capitol is the tallest building in Madison, situated on Capitol Square. Madison is known for its domed granite capitol building, which was completed in 1917. The dome is topped by a gilded bronze statue fittingly called “Wisconsin.”
The painting “Resources of Wisconsin” adorns the ceiling of the rotunda, the only granite dome in the United States. You can view the rotunda from Trumpeter’s Balcony. Free tours are given daily, all year. The capitol building is complemented by a museum and outside observation deck.
Henry Vilas Zoo
Admission-free Henry Vilas Zoo opened in 1904. Indoor exhibits at the zoo include the aviary, herpetarium, discovery center, and primate building. The zoo train and conservation carousel are found in the children’s zoo. The savanna and high plains exhibits feature animals like camels and giraffes, while the North American prairie exhibit features prairie dogs. Polar bears live in the Arctic Passage exhibit. Zoo events include Zoo Run Run, ZOOvies, Zoo Lights, and Brew Lights. The zoo is open daily all year-round.
Capital City State Trail
Capital City State Trail runs from the suburb of Fitchburg to Madison’s eastern neighborhoods. The paved, 17-mile trail winds through downtown Madison and past lakefront Monona Terrace, a convention center designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The trail also meanders amongst forested areas and through Capital Springs State Recreation Area, which features creeks, marshes, and lakes. Activities on the trail include biking, walking, and inline skating.
Mansion Hill Historic District
Mansion Hill Historic District is a ridge that runs along Lake Mendota, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The neighborhood was home to 19th century Madison’s upper class. Today, Mansion Hill guided tours take you to elegant and ornate homes where you can view classic and rare architecture and admire colorful gardens. The district boasts six August Kutzbock-designed, classic Italianate-style, and Romanesque Revival-style buildings.
Wisconsin Veterans Museum
Wisconsin Veterans Museum, situated on Capitol Square, shares the stories of Wisconsin’s soldiers. The museum and research center details the exploits of veterans from the Civil War to the present day. Permanent exhibits include the Civil War and 20th century galleries. Typical temporary exhibits include “WWI Beyond the Trenches” and “The Art of Harold Schmitz.” The free-admission museum is open six days a week, all year.
Wisconsin Historical Museum
The Wisconsin Historical Museum documents Wisconsin’s immigrant and farming history. Daily tours take you through the four floors in the museum, located on Capitol Square. Through exhibits, you can discover the stories of the people of the woodlands, the era of exchange and Wisconsin’s archaeological history. Interactive exhibits allow you to stand in a replica of a 1,000-year-old house and walk into a lead mine. You can also visit a fur trade post and climb up into a tractor cab.
Olbrich Botanical Gardens
You can also visit the tropics and explore the wonders of the rainforest in the Bolz Conservatory, where you’ll see exotic plants and flowers, as well as a waterfall and free-flying birds. The visitor center features the Schumacher Library, a gardening reference center.