Fun Things to do in Madison WI

Fun Things to do in Madison WI
Summer vacation spots in Wisconsin
If you are looking for fun things to do in Madison WI that involves the outdoors, you will be glad to know that the city is surrounded by lakes, wetlands, bluffs, prairies, woodlands and gorges, ideal for hiking.

If you are hiring a car during your vacation in Madison Wisconsin, exploring the nearby states of Minnesota and Iowa is a popular thing to do.

If you want to get close to nature and enjoy wildlife, the city of La Crescent in Minnesota sits on the banks of the Mississippi River and is surrounded by beautiful bluffs with spectacular views of the river.

During your trip in Madison WI, you can also take the popular two-hour scenic drive to the nearby state of Illinois and explore downtown Chicago attractions and things to do in Galena.

Madison travel during the summer is also a popular time as you can attend a Wisconsin State Fair, and other nearby summer events such as the popular SummerFest in Milwaukee (see places to visit in Milwaukee).

Fun Things to do in Madison WI: Places of Interest

Wisconsin State Capitol

Visiting the Wisconsin State Capitol is one of the most popular fun things to do in Madison WI. You can explore this beautiful government building on a guided tour, and then walk-up upstairs to the observation deck to get stunning views of downtown Madison WI and the city.

Aztalan State Park

Aztalan State Park is home to some of the most important archaeological sites in Wisconsin such as an ancient Middle-Mississippian village and ceremonial complex.

The park is also home to the Aztalan Museum, which features 19th century displays and buildings.

University of Wisconsin Arboretum

The University of Wisconsin Arboretum is another popular place of interest where you can enjoy a peaceful stroll and explore some wildlife.


Taking a winery tour is one of the most popular fun things to do in Madison WI. Wollersheim Winery is only half hour drive from Madison WI and a great place learn about the wine making process and sample some tasty wines.

Fun Things to do in Madison WI: Outdoor Activities

* If you are looking to enjoy water activities closed-by Madison, the city of Madison is surrounded by four lakes where you can enjoy a myriad of water activities.

Lake Mendota is the largest of these lakes and offers sport facilities all year around. The lake also offers several boat launching sites and two major marinas, and during the summer time you can enjoy fishing, water-skiing, canoeing, and more. During the winter time, you can enjoy ice-boating, ice-skating, ice fishing, cross country skiing, ice hockey and more.

* For those of you who want to enjoy outdoor activities in a more natural setting, Devil’s Lake State Park is only an hour’s drive from Madison WI.

The state park, located along the Ice Age Trail, offers miles of hiking trails, sandy beaches, campsites, as well as stunning views from its foot cliffs.

* Exploring Wisconsin caves is one of the most popular fun things to do in Madison WI. For instance, the stunning Cave of the Mounds natural landmark is only 40 minutes drive from the city.

Inside the cave you enjoy an hour long guided tour which takes you through the caves passages. Once the tour is finished, the area outside the cave is home to picnic areas where you can enjoy a nice meal.

Fun Things to do in Madison WI: Festivals & Events

Gazebo Concerts

Gazebo Concerts, held at Village Green Gazebo in early June, is one of the many free summer concerts held in Madison which features a variety of artists such as the Madison Community Band.

The Polar Dash

The Polar Dash event is a fun family outdoor activity-event to keep kids active during the winter months. At the event kids get to play outside in the snow and eat healthy snacks, and then take a trip to the tropical Bolz Conservatory.

Rhythm & Booms

Rhythm & Booms, held at Warner Park on the 4th of July, is the biggest celebration extravaganza in the Midwest and features fun games for children, carnival parades, marching bands and Wisconsin Air National Guard military demonstrations.

The Rhythm & Booms also features a massive firework display extravaganza in the evening.

Forward Music Festival

Forward Music Festival, held in Madison in mid-September, is a popular local event that features many indie and up and coming local bands.

Fun Things to do in Madison WI: Nightlife& Entertainment

The main areas with nightlife in Madison WI include: Capitol Square, Union Terrace, State Street and Memorial Union.

At night, you can find many venues that offer live music every night of the week, spreading from the historic Barrymore Theater on the east side to the Annex on the west side.

In the downtown area, the High Noon Saloon is a popular place that features breaking indie rock and local acts.

If you are couple and want to enjoy a romantic getaway in Madison, a dinner cruise along Lake Mendota or Lake Monona is one of the best ways to enjoy a fun night out with your other half.

Fun Things to do in Madison WI: Shopping

One of the best places to enjoy some good-old shopping in Madison WI is at the Dane County Farmers’ Market, which is held at Capitol square on Saturdays and on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd on Wednesdays.

At the market you can purchase local produce and home-made agricultural products, as well as arts and crafts items.

Fun Things to do in Madison WI: Sports

If you are sports fan, the University of Wisconsin is home to the Badgers athletic team that include football, hockey, basketball and many other teams which you can watch.

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