Life in Madison

We’re nestled in the heart of the Midwest. Madison, Wisconsin, offers natural beauty, vibrant culture and a slice of all four seasons.

Reasons to Call Madison Home

Madison offers an experience you might not expect from a Midwest city. Our top-ranked, quickly growing community offers something for everyone.

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It’s one of the most livable medium-sized cities.

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It’s among the greenest cities in the country.

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It’s a great place to raise a family.

Activities,
Events and Places.

There’s always something to do in Madison. Explore some of our suggestions below.

Wisconsin State Capitol

At the cross-roads of Madison’s isthmus, Wisconsin’s State Capitol Building is the largest state capitol in America – towering 250 feet tall – and features an impressive interior rotunda open to the public and available for tours year-round. Outside, the capitol square hosts a number of seasonal, annual and special events.

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State Street

Connecting the capitol square to the UW-Madison campus, State Street is a mile-long pedestrian mall famed for its vibrant collection of locally-owned and operated shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs. They include Colectivo Coffee House, Fjallraven, State Street Brats, Paul’s Club and Ian’s Pizza.

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Memorial Union Terrace

Overlooking Lake Mendota, “the Terrace” is one of Madison’s most iconic stops for an amazing lakeside view, great food, live music, sailing and a full calendar of events. Whether you’re looking to swim in the summer, skate in the winter or simply relax among the community, the Terrace has something for everyone.

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Overture Center for the Arts

In addition to being one of Madison’s most unique architectural landmarks, the Overture Center for the Arts houses ten resident companies presenting more than 200 world-class shows, performances, art exhibitions and community events each year.

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Henry Vilas Zoo

The Henry Vilas Zoo offers a variety of indoor and outdoor exhibits, interactive games and other learning activities great for the whole family. With free admission and a newly expanded “Arctic Passage” polar bear exhibit, the Zoo is the perfect way to escape without leaving the city.

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The UW Arboretum

Hiking, biking, running or walking through 20 miles of trails at “The Arb” offers a glimpse into a unique collection of Wisconsin plants, effigy mounds, historic artifacts and an expansive visitor’s center.

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The Dane County Farmers' Market

One of the city’s most treasured traditions, the Dane County Farmers' Market is the largest of its kind in the country offering the season’s best selection of locally-produced fresh vegetables, flowers, meats, cheeses and specialty products from roughly 300 vendors.

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Brat Fest

Brat Fest is a four-day celebration featuring live music, delicious food and family-friendly activities held each Memorial Day weekend.

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Taste of Madison

Held each year over Labor Day weekend, Taste of Madison features more than 80 local restaurants and live entertainment around the Capitol Square. Participating restaurants offer a variety of unique and traditional dishes. Admission to the event, including hours of live entertainment is free and open to the public.

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Madison Marathon

The Madison Marathon hosts multiple running events each year held over Memorial Day weekend and Veterans Day weekend, including a full and half marathon, Twilight 5k and 10k, as well as a kids race. All races begin and finish on the Capitol Square. Each event benefits nearly 40 local charities and nonprofits.

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Wisconsin Badger Sports

If you’re looking for high-energy and nationally renowned sporting events, UW athletics has something to offer just about all year round. From electrifying football games at Camp Randall Stadium to fast-paced action on the court or ice in the Kohl Center, Madison is the perfect spot for all types of sports fans.

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Wisconsin Film Festival

Hosted by the UW’s Arts Institute and Department of Communication Arts, the Wisconsin Film Festival is the largest campus-based film festival in the country. Spanning eight springtime days, the festival showcases a variety of new American independent films, world cinema, documentaries, locally made films and more.

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Lakes

Madison is surrounded by multiple picturesque lakes perfect for fun in every season. With a variety of boat rentals, waterfront restaurants and beaches, the summer brings the community out on the water. When the air turns cold and the lakes freeze over, the same lakes become ice skating, cross-country skiing and iceboating venues.

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Golf

Madison and the surrounding area is home to several world-class golf courses suitable for players of all levels. Whether you want to catch an early round with friends or bring the whole family out for a fun evening of mini-golf at Vitense, there’s plenty of options for golfers and casual players alike.

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Hiking

South central Wisconsin offers all kinds of opportunities for hiking, climbing, camping, biking and more. Popular nearby spots include Devil’s Lake State Park, Blue Mound State Park and Governor Dodge State Park - all of which are less than a hour’s drive from the city.

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Skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing

If you’re looking to get out during the winter months, Madison offers three major skiing and snowboarding destinations as well as hundreds of miles of trails for hiking and snowshoeing, including the Ice Age Trailone of 11 National Scenic Trails in the nation.

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Running

Whether you’re just getting started or a seasoned runner, Madison hosts more than 70 races a year, ranging from casual walking events to marathons, triathlons and the annual Ironman competition.

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Biking

With more bikes than cars, Madison is the cycling capital of the state, offering bikers more than 200 miles of trails around the city including the Capital City Trail, Sugar River State Trail, Ice Age Trail and more. In November 2015, the League of American Bicyclists awards awarded Madison Platinum status as a Bicycle Friendly Community.

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Restaurants

From traditional Midwest fare to award-winning fine dining, Madison offers an impressive variety of restaurants despite its modest size. Whether you’re looking for a sunset view with oysters and champagne on the waterfront, unique flavors from around the world or a meal sourced from local growers, Madison is the perfect spot for foodies.

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Music

Whether it’s a packed arena show at the Alliant Energy Center, a symphony at the Overture Center or a more intimate performance at one of many local venues, Madison plays host to a wide array of tastes, styles and genres from both local and touring artists and shows.

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Nightlife

If you’re looking for fun after dark, a variety of Madison’s communities offer unique settings for entertainment. With 12 local breweries, a popular comedy club, theaters and a variety of bars, taverns and pubs dotting the city, there’s no shortage of ways to stay entertained when the sun goes down.

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Life in Wisconsin

We’re proud to call Wisconsin our home. In Wisconsin, you’re free to think bigger, encouraged to make your mark and poised for great things to happen. The state’s culture and traditions fuel discovery and create opportunities for personal and professional fulfillment. Let our friends at the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation show you the people, places and potential our state has to offer.

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