While in Madison, we encourage you to take in many of the sights and sounds of the city between the lakes. Below are a few of our recommendations. For additional activities, as well as a calendar of events, please visit the Greater Madison Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Chazen Museum of Art
800 University Avenue
9 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday
11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
One of the country’s leading university art museums, the Chazen houses a permanent collection of 16,000 works of art dating from 2300 B. C. to present day. Admission is free and the museum is open to the public every day except Monday. After browsing the 24,000-square-feet of gallery space, discover the art-related gifts in the Chazen Museum shop. Specialized tours are available with a reservation.
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art
227 State Street
Noon-8 p.m. Friday
10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday
Noon-5 p.m. Sunday
Designed by world-renowned architect Cesar Pelli, the museum's exhilarating facility offers 51,500 square feet of space for the study, presentation, and conservation of modern and contemporary art, as well as a 7,100-square-foot rooftop sculpture garden. Public amenities include spacious galleries, a 230-seat lecture hall, a children's classroom, a new-media gallery, and a study center for drawings, prints, and photographs.
The museum's collection traces its origins to a major gift from Rudolph and Louise Langer in 1968. Through donations and museum purchases, the collection has grown to become an important community resource. Works span the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and include paintings, sculpture, photography, prints, and drawings. Romare Bearden, Deborah Butterfield, John Steuart Curry, Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Cindy Sherman are among the many esteemed artists represented in the collection.
1207 Seminole Highway
9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Weekdays
12:30 p.m.-4 p.m. Weekends
Featuring the restored prairies, forest and wetlands of pre-settlement Wisconsin, the 1,260-acre Arboretum also houses flowering trees, shrubs and a world-famous lilac collection. Educational tours for groups and the public, science and nature-based classes for all ages and abilities, and a wide variety of volunteer opportunities for groups, families and individuals are available. Stop in to see the McKay Visitor Center, featuring an orientation theater, bookstore, library, art gallery and more, before beginning your exploration.
Olbrich Botanical Gardens
3330 Atwood Avenue
10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday-Saturday
10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday
Stroll through 16 acres of outdoor display gardens and an indoor, tropical conservatory at Olbrich Botanical Gardens. In the outdoor gardens, visit the Thai Pavilion and Garden. Olbrich's Thai Pavilion is the only one in the continental United States and the only one outside of Thailand surrounded by a garden. Stop and smell the roses in the Rose Garden, opened to the public in 2005. Olbrich's rose garden features innovative mixed borders of Midwest hardy shrub roses and perennials. Also stroll through other specialty gardens such as the Perennial Garden, Sunken Garden, and Herb Garden. Olbrich's outdoor gardens are open daily, year-round.
Then, visit the tropics without leaving Madison! The Bolz Conservatory, a sunny 50-foot-high glass pyramid, houses a diverse collection of tropical plants, a rushing waterfall, free-flying birds, and blooming orchids. See the plants on which some very common foods grow, such as banana, coffee, and vanilla. Get an up close and personal look at carnivorous plants as well! Temperatures in the Conservatory range from 65 degrees to 95 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, making this a truly tropical escape. The Bolz Conservatory is also home to Olbrich's Blooming Butterflies - an annual event from mid-July through mid-August. Free-flying butterflies emerge from chrysalises daily and fly around the Conservatory.
Wisconsin State Capitol Tour
9, 10, 11 a.m. and 1, 2, 3 p.m. Saturday
1, 2, 3 p.m. Sunday
Rising between the picturesque waters of Lake Monona and Lake Mendota, the majestic granite structure of Wisconsin's Capitol building glows like a beacon, accenting the Madison skyline.
Reaching to a height of over 200 feet, the Capitol dome is topped by Daniel Chester French's elegant gilded bronze statue, "Wisconsin." Edwin Blashfield's mural "Resources of Wisconsin" lavishly decorates the ceiling of the rotunda, which is the only granite dome in the United States. Inside, visitors are treated to the unique textures of 43 varieties of stone from around the world, hand-carved furniture and exquisite glass mosaics.
Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery
33 N. Orchard Street
2 p.m. guided tours Friday and Saturday
The Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery building, which was completed in December 2010, houses the public Wisconsin Institute for Discovery and the private Morgridge Institute for Research in a single, four-story facility constructed on the entire 1300 block of University Avenue (bordered by Campus Drive, North Randall Avenue and North Orchard Street) on the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus.
The building serves as a hub for interdisciplinary research – spanning biotechnology, nanotechnology and information technologies – that will lead to the development of new biomedical treatments and technological applications aimed at improving human health and welfare. It contains approximately 106,000 assignable square feet of research space, including wet and dry laboratories, research support areas, core facilities and offices.
The Wisconsin Union
800 Langdon Street
Located on Lake Mendota, this classic Italian Renaissance building has been considered the "heart and soul" of campus since it opened in 1928. Students, faculty, visitors, and guests converge in Memorial Union to eat, meet, or just relax. It offers a deli, two restaurants, meeting rooms, guest rooms, four art galleries, an information booth, and a gift shop. The building also contains a movie theater and a craft shop. The Union hosts live music several nights a week inside the Rathskeller or outside on the Terrace overlooking Lake Mendota. Internationally renowned artists routinely grace the stage of the Wisconsin Union Theater, and outdoor enthusiasts flock to the six clubs run by Hoofers, one of the nation's oldest and largest campus outdoor recreation organizations. Visit the Outdoor Rentals Office to rent canoes and other recreational equipment. The Union also offers Babcock ice cream for visitors to enjoy all year round.
Union South (newly renovated)
1308 West Dayton Street
The new Union South opened on April 15, 2011. It is nestled between the Computer Sciences and Statistics Building and Engineering Hall on the south side of campus. This building was designed in an organic prairie-style architecture, influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright. In addition to multiple dining options and meetings spaces, Union South features include the Sett and the Marquee. The scientific name for a badger burrow, The Sett is the center of recreation at Union South. This three-level experience offers food, live music, dancing, bowling, billiards, rock climbing and a place to watch all of your favorite Badger sports. The Marquee is the home for film on campus. The 350-seat cinema is complete with an expansive movie screen, specialized sound system and plush badger red seats. The Marquee was designed as the true home for film on campus, but the space is also equipped to host meetings, lectures and other special events. The Wisconsin Union Hotel is located a short walk to all the action at Camp Randall Stadium.