Things to Do & See

HomeThings to Do & See

If you happen to have more time for sight seeing in Madison, we have some recommendations for what to do and see!


On campus:

  • Union South: Take advantage of bowling and a climbing wall downstairs in the Lower Sett, movies at the Marquee, art exhibits, food, drinks, and performances in the Sett. Check T.I.T.U. for special events.
  • Wisconsin Union Theater: Madison’s historic hall located in the Memorial Union on Lake Mendota. The greats have been playing and speaking here since 1939.
  • Chazen Museum of Art: The second-largest collection of art in Wisconsin: more than 20,000 works including paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints, photographs, and decorative arts. Admission is free.
  • University of Wisconsin Geology Museum: Features exhibits of rocks and minerals, meteorites, fossils, and dinosaurs. Admission is free.

Downtown Madison:

  • State Street: A pedestrian zone stretching from UW campus to the State Capitol, State St. offers shopping, restaurants, and more.
  • Wisconsin State Capitol: Guided tours are available, or just explore for yourself. Its fantastic architecture is a must-see. Admission is free.
  • Madison City Tours: Pick a 25-mile, 2-hour, driving City Highlights Tour or an In-Depth tour which includes pick-up from and drop-off to your hotel at a time that works best for you. All tours must be booked at least one day in advance.
  • Madison Museum of Contemporary Art: Displays works that span the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and include paintings, sculpture, photography, prints, and drawings, as well as a 7,100-square-foot rooftop sculpture garden. Admission is free.
  • Overture Center for the Arts: A stunning architectural landmark in the heart of Madison’s thriving cultural arts district. Check the events calendar to find specific performances.
  • Monona Terrace and Shoreline Trail: Take a guided tour of this Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece. From there, swim or soak up some sun on the welcoming beach, take an enjoyable jog on the trail, or go biking through the park and up and around the Capitol.
  • Wisconsin Historical Museum: Tour the exhibits to learn the stories of native people, settlement days, immigrants' experiences, and lively politics of Wisconsin.
  • Madison Children's Museum: An award-winning destination for fun family activities and hands-on learning.
  • Wisconsin Veteran's Museum: An educational activity of the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs to commemorate, acknowledge, and affirm the role of Wisconsin citizens in American military history, past and present. 

Within Madison:

  • Olbrich Botanical Gardens: 16 acres of outdoor display gardens and the indoor, tropical Bolz Conservatory. Outdoor gardens are free.
  • Henry Vilas Zoo: Located near Lake Wingra and the UW Arboretum and surrounded by a city park.  Admission is free!
  • Hilldale Shopping Center: Features four anchor stores, over 50 specialty shops, and Sundance 608 movie theater.
  • University of Wisconsin Arboretum: 1200 acres that border the southern half of Lake Wingra, featuring many distinct ecological communities, several horticultural collections, effigy mounds, historic artifacts, a Visitor Center, and more than 20 miles of a trail system composed of footpaths and boardwalks. Tours are available and free guided walks take place each Sunday, or explore on your own.
  • Vitense Golfland and Minigolf: Includes a Top 50 Rated Golf Range in America, a lighted golf course, the #1 rated miniature golf courses in Dane County, the “putting edge” INDOOR Madison Landmark miniature golf course, baseball and softball batting cages, a climbing wall, a trampoline game, water balloon slingshot fun, and concessions.
  • The National Mustard Museum: Technically in Middleton, but very close by! 

Near Madison:

  • Cave of the Mounds: About a half-hour drive from Madison. Take a tour through natural limestone caves and crystal formations, mine for gemstones, and dig for fossils.
  • House on the Rock: About an hour drive from Madison. House on the Rock is a complex of architecturally unique rooms, streets, gardens and shops designed by Alex Jordan Jr.
  • Wisconsin Dells: About an hour drive from Madison. Enjoy scenic beauty along the Wisconsin River, in particular the unique Cambrian sandstone rock formations and tributary canyons, as well as shopping and theme parks.