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Top Things To Do in Madison

By: Cityseeker
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The Wisconsin State Capitol crowns this expansive city whose urban sprawl is dotted with a series of historic landmarks, museums, performing arts venues and restaurants. The capital city of Madison thrums with culture and beauty, and several galleries and parks are interspersed with buildings featuring striking architectural styles. Music occupies an important pedestal here, with the city hosting several annual music festivals.


Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Olbrich Botanical Gardens comprises 16 acres (6.5 hectares) of outdoor gardens and a conservatory that amazes with countless tropical plant species. The outdoor gardens, which are generously free to the public, feature a Thai Pavilion, Rose Garden, Herb Garden, and more. A modest entrance fee to the Bolz Conservatory uncovers a world of exotic flowers, flowing water features, and circling birds, all of which are housed in a 50-foot (15.2-meter) glass pyramid that is kept as humid as a Caribbean island. Offering wheelchair-accessible walkways, the Olbrich Botanical Gardens welcomes all to meander its serene spaces.

Madison, WI, United States
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Wisconsin State Capitol

The crown jewel of Capitol Square, Madison's glorious landmark is a pristine white canopy awash in stately Beaux-Arts style. Construction on the building was completed in 1917, and it has been the center point of the state's historic and legislative tenor ever since. However, this striking structure is the fifth capitol building of the state. The first was used only temporarily until Madison was ready to assume its role as the capitol site, the second was constructed in 1837 and later replaced for a larger facility, and the third was eventually destroyed in a fire in 1904. An eye-catching landmark that is perhaps best recognized by its large dome, the current state capitol building houses the Wisconsin legislature, as well as the state Supreme Court and the offices of the governor. Designated a National Historic Landmark, the capitol building sits like an enchanting jewel, ornamented with a string of rolling lawns and sculptures.

Madison, WI, United States
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Henry Vilas Zoo

For a relatively small animal park, there are endless ways to entertain yourself at Henry Vilas Zoo. The zoo is spread over 28 acres (11 hectares) and houses such attractions as a petting zoo, indoor carousel, and train ride through the park. Wildlife exhibits range from a Primate House to a rhino enclosure. There is also a children's zoo onsite, as well as opportunities for programs and events year round. One of the most popular among them is the Zoo Run Run. Join the roughly 500,000 annual visitors to Henry Vilas Zoo on your next trip to Madison!

Madison, WI, United States
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Madison Children's Museum

Spread across three levels, Madison Children's Museum is an amazing, interactive museum for the whole family. Get inside one of Wisconsin's oldest log cabins from the 19th Century to know the state's history. Little tots will have fun at the Wildernest with crawlers and climbers to keep them busy. Get to know a bit of horticulture at the Urb Garden or art and interactive displays at the Community Concourse. If your child is more artistic, head up to the Art Studio in the second floor. Showcasing artworks of children and other artists, their rotating exhibits will inspire you to be creative with paint, clay or paper. For more informative fun, Possible-opolis is where science and art meet. Get to know Wisconsin's outdoors at the Rooftop Ramble. With so much to do, there is never a dull time at this fantastic museum.

Madison, WI, United States
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University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum

University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum is one of the best places in the region and probably the only one in Madison to witness a massive collection of restored ecosystems or ecological communities as the arboretum likes to call it. Founded in the 1930s, this learning and research facility was built on pastures and fields. It spans across 1200 acres (485.62 hectares) featuring savannas, forests, prairies, woodlands, wetlands, springs, ponds, gardens, trails and lakes. Besides this, it also has an additional 520-acre (210.44 hectares) of land for research purposes. Explore this huge gentle rolling landscape by embarking on the trails whether on foot or bike and, taking a part of their tours and programs. Get to know native and non native plants, animals, birds and mammals. Get to know Wisconsin plants at the Longenecker Horticultural Gardens or how to take care of the land and endemic plants at Wisconsin Native Plant Garden. Viburnum Garden has an impressive variety of Viburnum and Arborvitae species. Check out the Visitor Center for more information, books, gifts and heritage insight. You can be sure of an interesting and enlightening outing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum.

Madison, WI, United States
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Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center

Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center is a multi-purpose venue ideally located on the banks of the Lake Monona, Madison, WI. Inaugurated in 1997, the convention center is available for meetings, conference, and other types of events and can accommodate up to 4,000 guests at a single time. The main attraction of this luxurious space is the rooftop area which is ideal for thematic weddings and parties with their in-house catering. The venue is available for community events and functions as a meeting point for political and welfare groups.

Madison, WI, United States
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Chazen Museum of Art

The Chazen Museum of Art aims to collect, preserve, and exhibit works of art, exposing the public to the wonders of the art world. Playing a crucial role in Madison's visual art scene, it boasts an exciting and extensive permanent collection, which consists of old photographs, lithographs, drawings, paintings, sculptures, and more. Not only is the Chazen Museum of Art a wonderful cultural attraction, it's also free, so keep an eye out for exciting upcoming events and exhibitions.

Madison, WI, United States
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Wisconsin Veterans Museum

Opened in 1901 as the Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Hall, the Wisconsin Veterans Museum sits opposite the State Capitol on the isthmus between Lakes Monona and Mendota. The educational museum offers insight into the roles of state veterans in various wars across different ages, making it a must-see for history buffs. You'll find more than 3,000 items displayed between the two award-winning galleries at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum. Don't miss this American Alliance of Museums accredited site on your trip next tour of the city.

Madison, WI, United States
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Wisconsin Historical Museum

A day would not suffice to browse through over 110,000 historical and 400,000 archaeological artifacts in the Wisconsin Historical Museum. Attracting artists, researchers, students, families, authors, collectors, and a melange of visitors, this place boasts collections spanning topics like anthropology, military life, household life, politics, business, and more. Explore the Wisconsin Historical Museum on your own or stop by for one of its exciting events. Although there is no admission charge, donations are encouraged.

Madison, WI, United States
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Madison Museum of Contemporary Art

Opened in 2006 and designed by the renowned Cesar Pelli, the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, or MMoCA as called by the people of Madison, is perhaps the biggest artistic space in the city at 51,000 square feet (4,738 square meters). Some features include the rooftop sculpture garden, lecture halls, children's rooms, a research space, and more. Wedding receptions and corporate events can be hosted here while a rich educative program for kids and adults makes this museum a sure winner with all. Admission is free, as are most events. Check website for more information on exhibits and upcoming exhibitions.

Madison, WI, United States
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