World’s Largest M Platteville
If you’ve ever wanted to stand next to the famous Hollywood sign above Los Angeles, then you might want to consider a trip to Platte Mound to see the World’s Largest M. The M was created by students of the former Wisconsin Mining School, now known as the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, thus the “M.” You can see the 241-foot-by-214-foot letter from nearly 30 miles away.
Insider tip: Put on a hard hat and take an underground tour of the 1845 Bevans lead mine at the Rollo Jamison Mining Museum.
University Of Wisconsin Geology Museum
Then you should come to the UW-Madison Geology Museum.
This museum predates the Civil War by more than a decade.
If youre looking to spend some of your weekend in Madison learning about the very distant past through things like fossils, you should come to this museum.
Dinosaur obsesses can have so much fun at the UW-Madison Geology Museum.
Today, this museum has plenty of fossils from periods like the Jurassic age. There are also fossils of birds.
Plus, there are skeletons of creatures long gone and more rocks than youve probably ever seen in one place.
The guided tours at the UW-Madison Geology Museum help to add to your experience.
The museum is open from Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Theres no cost for admission, but its $2 per person for guided tours, which require a minimum of eight people.
Address: 1215 W Dayton St, Madison, WI 53706, USA
What To Do In Madison: Overture Center For The Arts
Located in the midst of the bustling State Street in Downtown Madison, the Overture Center for the Arts is a world-class performance center that presents an array of programs, shows and performances throughout the year. Home to 10 resident companies, including the Forward Theater Company, the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society, the Childrens Theater of Madison, and the Kanopy Dance Company, the center also plays host to national and international touring artists and Broadway performers.
Enjoy a free behind-the-scenes tour and learn the history of one of the nations most beautiful theaters. If you are looking for romantic date ideas in Madison, watch a performance at the Overture Center for the Arts.
201 State Street, Madison, WI, Phone: 608-258-414
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Olbrich Botanical Gardens & Bolz Conservatory
The lovely Olbrich Botanical Gardens, located a short drive north of downtown, is a tranquil and picturesque place to meander about.
This is one of the best things to do in Madison, Wisconsin when you want to escape from the hustle and bustles of the city for a bit.
Its thick, green borders include a remarkable quantity of aromatic flowers, exotic plants, and towering trees from all over the world, and it lies along the north coast of Lake Monona.
It was founded in 1952 and currently boasts picturesque portions for guests to enjoy, including meticulously planted lawns and meadows, as well as charming rose, rock, and rain gardens.
While there are lots of lovely ponds and dazzling water features to admire, the hot Bolz Conservatory also holds hundreds of fantastic tropical plants, as well as magnificent birds and butterflies that may be seen darting about.
The gardens other prominent attraction is its golden Thai pavilion, which shines out against the lush foliage all around it.
Stop By The Dane County Farmers Market
The Dane County Farmers Market is the largest producers-only market in the country and is kind of a big deal. Over 150 vendors attend every Saturday, setting up shop in Capital Square from April to November on Saturday mornings.
They also have a Wednesday market that takes place on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. The earlier you go, the more selecting you will find.
In addition to food items there are crafts for sale and local street artists and performers. Pets are not allowed. People drive in from Chicago for this market so if youre in the area you dont want to miss it.
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The Statue Of Liberty On Lake Mendota
Every winter, an inflatable replica of The Statue of Liberty is installed on the frozen Lake Mendota. Well, her head and torch at least. This was started back in the 70s as a college prank but was quickly turned into a tradition.
Because the lakes are sturdy enough to walk on in the winter, visitors can easily walk out and take photos next to the famous Wisconsin The Statue of Liberty. Its usually only up for a few days a year around the winter carnival so if youre planning a winter trip to Madison, bookmark those days so you can see the statue!
Unique Things To Do In Madison
With its diverse programme of arts events and smattering of historic landmarks, Madison has plenty going for it including several unique things to see and do.
The impressive architecture of Chazen Museum of Art
Situated west of Milwaukee, the city of Madison is blessed with an array of great landmarks, activities and attractions. If youre planning a trip to Wisconsins capital and would like some inspiration for planning your itinerary, weve done the work so you dont have to by selecting 12 of the most unique and original activities and places of interest that the city has to offer.
Take a look around a world class museum
At the vanguard of Madisons vibrant creative scene is the Chazen Museum of Art, widely regarded as one of Wisconsins finest cultural venues. Part of the University of Wisconsin, the museum is the largest Big 10 art museum, with two expansive buildings encompassing 166,000 square feet, and over 23,000 objects in its permanent collection, including artworks spanning a range of mediums, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, and watercolours, as well as prints, photography, and applied/decorative arts. Both American and European artists feature extensively and the museum also hosts a regular roster of traveling exhibits.
750 University Avenue / Tues-Weds 12pm-5pm Thurs-Fri 12pm-7pm Closed Sat-Mon
7477 Hubbard Avenue, Middleton / Mon-Thurs 10am-4pm Fri-Sat 10am-5pm Sun 11am-4pm
Visitors peruse the National Mustard Museum
Catch a top class arts show
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Visit The Garver Feed Mill
This is one of the most impressive historical renovations Ive ever seen. The Garver Feed Mill was a dilapidated building taking up space in a prime spot of town, right behind the Olbrich Gardens.
For years it sat unattended until a massive facelift was undertaken, preserving as much of the original elements as possible.
Now, the renovated feed mill will pay tribute to Madisons agricultural and industrial history by providing visitors with a place to taste the best of Madison all in one stop.
You can find delicious local restaurants here, from Ians Pizza to Ledger Coffee Roasters. Its also a beautiful space for weddings or corporate meetings.
Monty’s Blue Plate Diner Madison Wisconsin
Montys Blue Plate Diner is a family-friendly neighborhood restaurant on Atwood Avenue that is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Laid-back and relaxed, the 50s-style diner serves a menu of traditional home-cooked dishes made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients and has frequently produced the best vegetarian and breakfast menu in the city. Dont miss the sumptuous Tex-Mex breakfast, the vegetarian meat loaf or the mouthwatering desserts, which are nothing less than delectable.
Think a hot fudge brownie sundae made with Sassy Cow Creamery ice cream and freshly made cream pies. Montys also serves a variety of easy-drinking wines, bottled and tap beer, and handcrafted cocktails.
2089 Atwood Ave., Madison, WI, Phone: 608-244-8505
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Bolz Conservatory At Olbrich Gardens
While the Bolz Conservatory is not technically free, it only costs $1.00 per person. The flora is vibrant and colorful and the greenery is lush. Footpaths and quaint bridges take visitors next to and over the koi pond and a lovely waterfall cascades down the far wall. The conservatory is home to a stunning butterfly exhibit in which a vast array of butterflies emerge from their chrysalises daily and flit about the warm air. There are also both flight and ground dwelling birds that live inside the conservancy so keep your eyes open at all times and you may spot them! The annual Blooming Butterflies exhibition runs in July and August. For information about specific dates, times and pricing, call 608-246-4550 or visit them on the web at www.olbrich.org.
Attend Every Food And Drink Festival
A city that loves to eat and consume alcohol is bound to have a plethora of food- and drink-focused festivals — and Madisons no exception. Start things off Memorial Day weekend with Bratfest, which is famously free and sells a billion brats. For the beer-obsessed, there’s Great Taste of the Midwest, which is notoriously difficult to get tickets to, but is allegedly paradise for the craft beer nerds if you do. Yum Yum Fest is an upscale food-tasting event, while Taste of Madison packs Capitol Square with food vendors for charity. And then there’s Craft Beer Week, Bacon and Brews, and Madison’s Best Bloody. Basically, if you want a specific food or beverage, we have a festival for it.
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Frank Lloyd Wrights Monona Terrace
Frank Lloyd Wrights Monona Terrace is a stunning convention center thats design came from the mind of Frank Lloyd Wright, and was finally brought to life for the city of Madison to enjoy decades later.
Located on the shore of Lake Monona, the lake views are unbeatable. Dont miss the panoramic views from the rooftop gardens, catching a glimpse of those on the water enjoying cruises.
If you find yourself in Madison for business and are looking for a memorable place to host an event, rentals are available for rooms of varying sizes. Make an impression on your attendees by hosting your event at a truly unforgettable venue.
Get Acrobatic At Madison Circus Space
Did you know Madison, Wisconsin has strong ties to the circus? The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus was founded just 50 miles away.
To date, the area has one of the most active and highly regarded circus communities in the world with artists that specialize in everything from trapeze to juggling.
Madison Circus Space is a nonprofit organization that aims to preserve circus arts and share them with the local community. Their members, a community of more than 80 artists, host shows and events regularly.
They also offer classes so the public can participate and learn. Most of the classes are for a longer period of time, i.e. 5-10 weeks, but there are some you can attend event if youre not enrolled in weekly lessons.
Recently, they raised more than a million dollars and have upgraded to a brand new facility with 2 floors, customizable bleachers and a state-of-the-art spring floor for gymnastics. Its well worth a visit for a show or to take a class and attempt a new feat.
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Things To Do Outdoors In Madison
Because I dont like to spend much time outdoors when its below 60 degrees yes, Im a wimp I have only visited Madison in the warmer months.
Ill start with my favorite outdoor activities but dont worry, there are plenty of things to do indoors in Madison. More on that later.
Visit the awesome Dane County Farmers Market. The best farmers market Ive ever been to, it is located on the sidewalk surrounding the Wisconsin State Capitol. Held every Saturday morning, the market gets so crowded you are supposed to only go counterclockwise when visiting the vendors.
It started in 1972 and is the largest producers-only farmers market in the country.
I love visiting farmers markets when I travel, but its also frustrating. There were so many gorgeous flowers and delicious-looking produce, but I had no way to enjoy them.
If you want to sample cheese curds, this is the place to do it. Chomp down and squeak away!
Take a boat ride on Betty Lou Cruise. I take every opportunity to get out on the water so was thrilled to board the boat to tour Lake Mendota. We passed by beautiful homes perched on cliffs, parts of University of Wisconsin and downtown Madison.
Stroll through Olbrich Botanical Gardens, 16 acres of outdoor gardens and an indoor conservatory. A highlight is the Thai Pavilion and garden, a gift from the Thai government to University of Wisconsin.
Check the website for whats in bloom and events like movie night, bonfires on the Great Lawn and a concert series.
University Of Wisconsin: Arboretum And Geology Museum
The University of Wisconsins Arboretum borders Lake Wingra and includes a variety of natural areas, trails, and gardens. A leader in ecological restoration studies and practices, the arboretums 1200+ acres welcome visitors to learn more about how to build a positive relationship with the land.
UW-Madisons Geology Museum provides visitors with the opportunity to learn more about rocks, minerals, fossils, and more. Located on campus, this museum contains roughly 120,000 specimens and an active fossil preparation lab visitors are invited to peek in on.
Details: 1215 W Dayton St, Madison, WI 53706 | Website
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Beers At Memorial Union Terrace
My favorite downtown Madison activity on a hot summer day is hitting up the University of Madisons Memorial Union Terrace for a beer. Second to shopping the Farmers Market, I always hit up the terrace at least once for sunset beers on Lake Mendota.
The UW Madison Union Terrace is famous for its back patio and colorful chairs. In the summer they serve up beers, hot dogs and other nibbles, and usually, always have a live music act on weekends. Head here for sunset, grab a pitcher of Spotted Cow and enjoy the vibe.
Tour The Capital Building
You cant miss the capital building in Madison. In many ways its the heart of the city, sitting at the intersection of its busiest roads. This is the state capital so its a hub for political activity.
Both the state house and senate meet here. Unlike other capital buildings, there are no metal detectors. Its completely free and uninhibited entry so that the public feels like the government is accessible to them.
Tours go every hour and are available for free daily. They last about an hour. The 360-degree view of the city from the balustrade cannot be missed. This is also a great spot to stop during the holidays, when they have a larger than life Christmas tree and holiday concert in the rotunda.
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Paine Art Center And Gardens
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The Paine Art Center and Gardens make up Wisconsin attractions that are very much suited to the expression of art and beauty with nature and historic charm.
It sits in an estate made in 1925 by Ithaca architect Bryan Fleming for Nathan and Jessie Paine, although the couple would never wind up living here.
The architectural design is distinctly Tudor Revival in order to pay tribute to the English roots of the Paine family, but the interior and exterior have significant contrast, allowing the English inspiration to be drawn out across centuries of styles.
Nathan Paine himself was instrumental in the unique appearance of the home and grounds, insisting on limestone stonework and other materials based on his keen eye for craftsmanship.
The natural beauty of the landscape of Wisconsin further compliments the homey, charming vintage appearance of the Paine Art Center and Gardens.
Inside the art center itself, once the home of the Paines, youll find a beautiful rotating exhibit of applied and fine arts alike.
The furniture within comes from different historical periods and many were specially commissioned.
The upper floors lie unfinished until today.
Meanwhile, the gardens outdoors at the Paine Art Center and Gardens are once again inspired by English styles.
They are a collection of twenty botanical garden locations perfect for education and enjoyment.
Perennials for local climate as well as native fauna of all kinds make up much of the lovely array.
Best Things To Do In Madison
The city of Madison is known for being the state capital of Wisconsin, and while this may have made it famous, there is a lot more to this city than meets the eye. This charming locale often tops indexes of the best places to live in the United States, and it has an all-American feeling to it which is also coupled with a strong dedication to the arts as well as a flourishing cultural scene.
The city is also modestly stylish, as this was the former home of celebrated American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and much of the city is designed in his signature style. As well as museums, art galleries, and concert halls, Madison is known for its biking trail and leafy parks, and if you want to get out on the water then you will find not one but three lakes to enjoy here. Even in the winter months, you can have some fun skiing, snowshoeing, or ice skating here.
Lets explore the best things to do in Madison:
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