While Madison may be home to many things (our state capital, the Badgers, a fantastic food scene), it’s also home to two iconic Frank Lloyd Wright buildings: the Monona Terrace Community & Convention Center and First Unitarian Society Meeting House. And Frank Lloyd Wright enthusiasts, architecture buffs and history lovers will all appreciate a tour of these two legendary structures—especially when you can round out your day or weekend with other Madison-centric activities.
If you arrive downtown in the late afternoon, take your pick of any of the fantastic bars on the Capitol Square that serve a great happy hour cocktail. The Coopers Tavern is known for their well-chosen beer selection and Field Table serves up stylish cocktails and atmosphere. Tavernakaya’s Japanese izikaya vibe will net you some sake, whisky or a Japanese craft beer. After your happy hour drink, head over to The Old Fashioned for, well, an Old Fashioned and a hearty supper club meal. And it wouldn’t be a Friday night without trying one of their trademark fish fries—beer-battered cod or walleye or flour-dusted perch await.
Downtown has plenty of lodging options for you to lay down your head at, like the city’s newest hotel, the AC Hotel by Marriott, just steps off of the Square. Its sleek city vibe and gorgeous views make this the city’s most cosmopolitan choice. The newly renovated Park Hotel on the Square is a great choice for up-front Capitol building views. The Edgewater offers enviable Lake Mendota vistas for a peaceful city respite.
Wake up and venture out for a lovely brunch at any one of the city’s excellent choices. Graze is a happening, casual brunch spot with an airy atmosphere and pleasant views of the Capitol building.
Head over to Monona Terrace for a tour, where you’ll learn about how the city’s skyline was forever changed by Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic 1959 design that finally opened its doors in 1997. If it’s a nice day, walk up to the rooftop for lovely views of Lake Monona.
Want to take in more knowledge? Walk a few blocks to the Wisconsin State Capitol Building for a free tour, or hop into the free Madison Museum of Contemporary Art to view works by big-name artists and feel inspired by the building’s beautiful, architecturally exciting design.
Grab dinner at Heritage Tavern, a big-city space tucked into a cozy corner on Mifflin Street. Their food always garners rave reviews and their cocktail program always offers something exciting. Or venture into the tenth-floor Eno Vino Wine Bar & Bistro at the AC Hotel for yet more amazing Capitol views and delicious small plates and a stunning array of wines by the glass and bottle.
After dinner, catch a show Overture Center to cap off a fun-filled day.
Before your tour of the First Unitarian Society Meeting House, grab breakfast at Short Stack Eatery, known for their award-winning, veggie-packed Bloody Marys, savory dishes and pancake offerings (sweet potato oatmeal ’cakes, anyone?).
After, take a quick drive over to the Unitarian Meeting House for a free tour after their Sunday services. The building has a distinct exterior shaped like a ship’s prow and soaring glass windows. This U.S. National Historic Landmark was designated as one of 17 buildings to be retained by the American Institute of Architects as contribution of Wright’s contribution to American culture.
If you’ve got time before heading back home, drive over to the nearby UW Lakeshore Path and walk Picnic Point, which is beautiful any time of year, and affords you clear lake views and plenty of relaxing nature vistas.
Check out more stops along the Frank Lloyd Wright Trail with our Racine itinerary, or browse our trip ideas along the trail for more inspiration.