Holiday Guide in Madison Wisconsin

Holiday Guide in Madison Wisconsin

This article is a detailed holiday guide in Madison Wisconsin. In it, we will discuss the following:

  • Things to know before visiting Madison
  • Places to go to in Madison
  • Things to do in Madison
  • What to carry on a trip to Madison
  • Hotels in Madison

About Madison Wisconsin

Holiday Guide in Madison Wisconsin

Madison Wisconsin, is known for its beautiful lakes, delicious cheese, and excellent educational institutions. It is the 84th largest city in the US. Madison is dubbed the greenest city in the United States, and it is loved by many for its vibrant demographics. If you’re thinking of visiting this lovely city, here are some things we think you should know about Madison Wisconsin.

One of the famous nicknames Madison goes by is the City of four lakes. You may already know of Lake Mendota- its largest and most famous Lake, and Lake Monona. The other lakes are Lake Kegonsa and Lake Waubesa.

You can boat, kayak, fish, picnic, and even camp around the Lakes during the summer.

During the winter, they freeze up, which opens more opportunities for fun things you can do on them.

Wisconsinites love their cheese. Cheese artisans in the city pride themselves in making any kind of cheese imaginable- string cheese, chocolate cheese, spicy cheese bread, and everything in between.

You can visit the Dane County Farmers Market for some fresh cheese or local restaurants such as Fromagination.

Madison has excellent educational standards. The beloved University of Wisconsin Madison (UW) educates more than 37000 students annually. It is a research university, and its students are notorious for their political and social issues.

If you are interested in getting a job and not another degree, we recommend getting employed by the university as it is one of the top two employers in Madison.

Earlier on, we mentioned that Madison Wisconsin, is dubbed one of the world’s greenest cities. We weren’t kidding. Madison has the most parks, beaches, and playgrounds per capita, as well as a high percentage of citizens who use alternative modes of transportation in an attempt to be eco-friendly and fit.

Depending on when you get to Madison Wisconsin, we have to warn you that the winters can be extra chilly. While the locals have no problem dealing with sub-zero temperatures for days at a time, we can’t say the same for you.

However, nothing is stopping you from making the best of the situation. Try out skiing in one of the downhill skill areas, sledding hills, snowkiting spots, and ice rinks. Just buy some warm winter clothes before you leave, and you’re right to.

Things To Never do in Madison Wisconsin

Now that you’re familiar with most of what happens in Wisconsin and what to expect, we’re going to share some things you should never do when in Madison.

Mix up the Lakes

Holiday Guide in Madison Wisconsin

Madison’s city is built on an isthmus, meaning a body of water borders it. This happens to be its two lakes- Lake Monona and Lake Mendota, opposite the city’s sides. Be careful never to mix up the names of these two lakes; else you can end up on the wrong side of the town.

Drink in the Streets

Holiday Guide in Madison Wisconsin

It’s easy to assume that anything goes during a street party, but that is far from the case in Madison. Alcohol remains strictly prohibited even during one of the broadest street parties you may ever attend. All alcoholic beverages must remain on private property, so don’t make the mistake of taking them out to the streets. Doing so puts you at risk of getting arrested or being issued a citation.

Disrespect the Badgers

Holiday Guide in Madison Wisconsin

If there’s anything Madison residents love as much as beer and cheese, it’s college sports. Whether there’s a sporting event going on or not, you can feel the sports team’s residents’ pride.

Roam the Campus Alone

Madison’s city is a relatively safe one, but that doesn’t mean that basic safety measures should be thrown out the window. Wandering alone on the campus at night when you’re unfamiliar with the environment is a gamble. The campus is significant, and you can easily get lost in it. Asides from that, you may also encounter some unfriendly characters.

Drive in the Snow

Anyone that isn’t used to driving in snow shouldn’t consider learning on their own in Madison. Even some locals wouldn’t do it. Some areas have many pedestrians and cyclists, which give you enough to worry about already. Now imagine how difficult navigating through the city’s unfamiliar layout will be with a road full of snow.

Try to Drive Past Stadium on Game Day

This goes in line with what we said about disrespecting the Badgers. Whether they have tickets or not, you can expect students to be flocked at Camp Randall, ready to display their undying love and support for their sports team.

We’d advise you always to stay updated on the city’s football schedule so you can plan your journey on time and reroute it when necessary.

Get Dragged into a Protest

Yes, protests are every citizen’s constitutional right and may even be considered a duty, but it’s best to avoid complaints, except you were planning to get involved in one.

Wisconsin has seen its fair share of heated protests, and one can never tell when things will get out of control and how bad the damage can be. If you see any hassle at the State Capitol, Ours advises you to avoid it like the plague.

Places to Visit in Madison Wisconsin

In this section, we listed the top places to go to in Madison Wisconsin.

Olbrich Botanical Garden

Holiday Guide in Madison Wisconsin

The Olbrich botanical garden is one of the most serene locations in the city of Madison Wisconsin. It is located on the waterfront of Madison. You don’t have to worry about whether or not the garden is in bloom when you visit because it stays in color all year round, thanks to the different seasonal plants.

The garden was first opened in 1952, and it is popularly known for the roses grown there and the Bolz Conservatory, which houses indigenous plants.

And of course, you’ll get to enjoy more than flowers while you’re there. There are also architectural eye candies like the Sala- a pavilion given to the garden by the Thai government.

Henry Vilas Zoo

Holiday Guide in Madison Wisconsin

The zoo opened in 1924 and spanned about 28 hectares over the city. It is a popular place to visit in Madison Wisconsin, as it receives over a million visitors per year.

The zoo is filled with indigenous animals and animals from across the globe, giving you a wide range of animals to look at while you’re there.

There is also an educational program for children to learn about protecting local foliage from the tour. There are also interactive displays and a carousel for the children to enjoy as well.

The Madison Children’s Museum

Holiday Guide in Madison Wisconsin

If you’ll be traveling with children, then a lovely place to visit Madison Wisconsin, is the Madison Children’s Museum.

It has a wide range of exhibits that the children will find engaging and exciting. There is something for children of all ages, starting from toddlers to teenagers.

Each section of the museum focuses on a different theme to help children understand how the world works around them using physics, biology, and history.

University of Wisconsin Arboretum

Holiday Guide in Madison Wisconsin

Over the past 150 years, the University of Wisconsin has significantly been celebrated for its history. The campus spans over a mindblowing 1000 acres of land.

The reason the university made it to our list of places to visit in Wisconsin is its famous Arboretum. Members of the public are free to see it without restrictions.

The Arboretum houses some of the world’s oldest ecological communities, such as forests, wetlands, and savannas. It also houses local flora, including its signature lilac collection.

There is also a visitor center where visitors can learn about the local ecology in Wisconsin.

Dane County Farmers Market

Holiday Guide in Madison Wisconsin

Dane County Farmers Market is famous because it is the largest producer focused market in the US. In case you don’t know what that means, we’ll shed some light on that statement.

It means that products in this market come directly from the growers/farmers allowing you to find the freshest produce.

It is located in Capitol Square and accommodates over 200 stalls. One thing is for sure, at this market you can find a wide range of fruits, vegetables, and local products such as honey and cheese.

To entertain the crowd, street performances and musical concerts are held in the market.

Wisconsin Veterans Museum

Holiday Guide in Madison Wisconsin

If you find war stories intriguing, then the Wisconsin Veterans Museum is a place to visit while you’re there.

The museum has won several awards for its war displays going back to the Civil War and the Gulf War.

The museum features interactive galleries, exhibits that display war-themed memorabilia, and military items such as warplanes.

Wisconsin State Capitol

Holiday Guide in Madison Wisconsin

Madison is the State Capital of Wisconsin, and we don’t think it would be proper for you to visit there without stopping by the State Capitol Building.

The building dates back to 1917 and is conveniently located in Madison’s downtown area, where you can explore the city on foot.

The Capitol building is topped by a 284-foot dome that rivals that of Washington’s State Capitol.

Finally, inside the building, you can find it decorated with beautiful Murals and Marbles from across France, Germany, and Italy.

Chazen Museum of Art

Holiday Guide in Madison Wisconsin

Art lovers looking for a place to visit in Madison Wisconsin, should try out the Chazen Museum of Art. Here you’ll come across various artworks such as paintings, sculptures, print work, and event photography.

The artworks there are strongly dedicated to European art as well as some American art.

The museum features exhibits focused on works from around America and across the globe. It’s a fun place to learn about the history of art and enjoy musical programs hosted there.

Lake Monona

Madison Wisconsin, is nicknamed the city of four lakes. It wouldn’t make sense to visit the city without visiting one of the four lakes.

Lake Monona is among its two most famous lakes; the other is Lake Mendota. The Lake Monona (which means beautiful in local Chippewa) flows with the Yahara River. It is known for being frozen most of the year, making it a famous ice skating rink. However, it is a popular fishing spot during the summer because of the number of indigenous fishes.

Lake Kegonsa Park

Holiday Guide in Madison Wisconsin

Lake Kegonsa is another one of the four lakes that gave Madison city its notorious lake-related nickname. The lake’s state park is located on the Southeast side of the town.

Lake Kegonsa Park is home to many ecological gems such as forests and wetlands.  It is an excellent spot to commune with nature as a popular pastime there is camping. It also has about kilometers of hiking trails, and you are free to boat fish, swim, or even water ski on the lake.

Things to do in Madison Wisconsin

Attend Food and Drink Festivals

Holiday Guide in Madison Wisconsin

Madison city is filled with people who love to eat good food and drink alcohol. A town like that is bound to have a ton of food and drink festivals, and Madison is no exception.

If you like beer, then you should attend the Great Taste of Midwest. But you should know that getting tickets won’t be easy.

Another festival you can attend is the Yum Yum Fest, an upscale food tasting event. Other food and drink festivals are Taste of Madison Craft Beer Week, Bacon and Brews, and Madison’s Best Bloody.

Visit the Museums

Holiday Guide in Madison Wisconsin

Another thing to do in Madison Wisconsin, is visiting the plethora of museums the city offers. There’s something for everyone from a Veteran Museum to a Children’s Museum.

Below is a list of the famous museums you can visit in Madison:

  • Madison Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Chazen Museum
  • Historical Museum
  • Geology Museum
  • Children’s Museum
  • Veteran Museum
  • Mustard Museum

Eat International Food

Holiday Guide in Madison Wisconsin

Madison city’s atmosphere is inclusive to all cultures, making it possible to find several international restaurants.

Park Street and Willy Street are lined with many Asian, Mexican, Vietnamese, and Venezuelan restaurants for you to choose from.

Shop at the County Farmers Market

It’s only inevitable that once you’ve visited the farmer’s market, you’ll do some shopping there as well. Every Saturday from April to November, Capitol Square welcomes countless farmers to form the Dane County Farmers Market.

You can expect to come across the freshest produce such as fruits and vegetables. As well as other locally made goods such as soaps, jams, etc.

Tour the State Capitol

Holiday Guide in Madison Wisconsin

The State Capitol building was built back in 1907, and we have to admit that it still looks great for a building as old as it is.

The open rotunda of the Capitol is its centerpiece. It is covered in mosaics and murals. The four main mosaics in the rotunda represent “Legislation,” “Justice,” “Government,” and “Liberty.”

Tours around the Capitol are offered daily. You can also waltz in and wander around the place yourself.

Enjoy Some Performing Arts

Holiday Guide in Madison Wisconsin

Are you a lover of opera, ballet, or orchestra? Do you enjoy performing art immensely? If so, something we recommend you do in Madison is visiting the Overture Center for the Arts. It is home to 10 companies that specialize in the performing arts ranging from theater to dance.

What to Carry on a Trip to Madison Wisconsin

Here’s our suggestion of things that will come in handy when traveling down to Madison.

Winter Car Safety Kit

If you plan to travel to Madison by car during the winter, then there’s no reason why a winter safety kit should be missing from your vehicle. Your vehicle may get immobilized in the snow and leave you stranded. We advise you to keep a safety kit and supplies that could last you up to 12 hours in your car for emergency cases.

Rain Gear

Admittedly, winter is less wet than all the other seasons, but Madison doesn’t necessarily have a dry season when there’s no rain. So we suggest that no matter what time of year you visit, carry some rain gear with you at all times.


Holiday Guide in Madison Wisconsin

This is particularly important for people who plan to go on camping and hiking trips. A backpack is a convenient way to store up and mobilize gear.

Weather-Appropriate Clothing

Holiday Guide in Madison Wisconsin

Like other parts of the world, Madison has four seasons- summer, autumn, winter, snd spring. To make your stay enjoyable in Madison it is necessary to pack your clothing according to Madison’s weather condition Madison. Breathable cotton clothing and shorts along with lightweight shoes or sandals for summer. Thick coats, mittens, and hats for winter. And the list goes on.

Hotels in Madison

Not sure where to stay in Madison Wisconsin? We cooked up a list of hotels in Madison for you to choose from.

The Edgewater

Holiday Guide in Madison Wisconsin

Address: 1001 Wisconsin Place- Madison

Rating: 4.5 stars

This is a premier hotel, and it is one of the most popular hotels in madison, wi. It is located near the State Capitol and its historic square. The hotel offers services such as dining and a spa. Customer reviews found that the hotel rooms and clean and the staff are friendly.

Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Madison West

Holiday Guide in Madison Wisconsin

Address: 1109 Fourier Drive- Madison

Rating: 4.0

Holiday Inn is located close to many fun places to go to in Madison Wisconsin. It is just a 4-minute drive away from the Capital Brewery and a few miles away from the University of Wisconsin. It also features Madison’s only indoor waterpark; what a treat.

The hotel offers services such as an arcade, an Italian restaurant, and a free airport shuttle.

Mansion Inn Hotel

Holiday Guide in Madison Wisconsin

Address: 424 North Pinckney Street- Madison


The Mansion Inn is described as the most luxurious boutique hotel in Madison. It is located downtown and is only a few blocks away from Capitol Square.

After reading customer reviews, we found out that the hotel offers complimentary breakfast, a fitness center, wifi, and a bar.

Wisconsin Union Hotel Madison

Holiday Guide in Madison Wisconsin

Address: 1308 West Dayton Street

Rating: 4.5

This hotel is located in the heart of the UW campus, and it is known for offering more than other hotels- restaurants, a bar, Babcock ice cream, a bowling arena, and a rock-climbing wall. Customer reviews also showed that


We’ve come to the end of our holiday guide in Madison Wisconsin. In this article, we shared terrific facts about Madison introduced you to the city’s love for cheese, and acquainted you with their unashamed love for beer.

We also gave you a brief tour of the place by listing out places to visit Madison Wisconsin. This list consists of museums, lakes, and parks.

Not to mention we even gave you an idea of fun things to do while in Madison. It doesn’t matter what time of year you visit the city because we made sure there was something each season in the calendar, from fishing during the summer to ice skiing during the winters. We also suggested some items we believe will make your stay in Madison more pleasurable.

Finally, we took out some time to share the best hotels to stay in Madison Wisconsin. Each hotel has a rating of at least ⅘ stars and a ton of good reviews from customers.

We hope you found this article useful in planning your trip to Madison. And if you were not sure about going there at the start of this piece, we hope it could change your mind.

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