Capital and captivating, Madison blends big city culture with small town charm. The city center is dominated by the Madison State Capitol Building, modeled after the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Its stunning rotunda is always open to visitors. Saturday mornings from early Spring to late Fall, area farmers transform the Capitol Square into an open-air market. There’s everything from twenty varieties of bean sprouts to freshly made summer sausage. The people-watching is unmatched.
Directly south of the Capitol, perched on the edge of Lake Monona, is the celebrated Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center. The center is based on a 1938 design by one of Wisconsin’s most notable native sons, Frank Lloyd Wright.
Downtown, internationally renowned architect Caesar Pelli designed the Overture Center, the city’s performing and visual arts center. The facility’s soaring spaces include the galleries of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.
Nearby, a trio of museums is perfect for a family outing. In the northwestern corner of Capitol Square, the Wisconsin Historical Museum offers three floors of fascinating exhibits from paleo-Indian culture to contemporary social issues. Across the street, the Wisconsin Veterans Museum traces the state’s military history from the Civil War to Desert Storm. Just a few blocks away, the Madison Children’s Museum celebrates imagination and play.
At the opposite end of downtown sprawls the University of Wisconsin campus, a pleasant site for a leisurely stroll. Linking the Capitol and campus is the State Street pedestrian mall dotted with interesting shopping and dining opportunities.
Nestled on a narrow isthmus between two lakes, Madison has been recognized as one of the country’s top canoe towns by Paddler magazine, as well as one of the 10 best bicycling cities by Bicycling magazine.
The city is also a perfect jumping-off point for day trips to dozens of picturesque communities in the beautiful surrounding countryside. Visitors always want to return to Madison where everyone feels welcome.