Madison, with a population of over 250,000, offers the amenities of a big city with the benefits and warmth of a strikingly beautiful college town. The Wisconsin Union Theater, the Overture Center for the Arts, the Kohl Center, and other facilities provide endless opportunities for students to enjoy national and local cultural events.
For lovers of the outdoors, the four lakes in Madison are an ideal backdrop for the city, which is augmented by a 1200 acre arboretum, a free zoo, more than 200 city parks, 11 beaches, and lots of scenic countryside accessible by car, boat, bicycle, and foot.
Madison is a center for political and judicial activity, conveniently located in the middle of a triangle formed by Chicago, Minneapolis and Milwaukee.
As the state capital, Madison is home to the Supreme Court of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, the Dane County Circuit Court, the Western District of Wisconsin Federal District Court, and various state and federal agencies. All of these legal resources are within walking distance of the Law School, giving our students vast opportunities to gain experience in multiple areas of law and to work with judges and Justices directly.
Madison "Best Of" Awards
Madison is consistently ranked best among US cities for quality of life. The area receives recognition for great food, healthy lifestyles, and general livability. Athletics spectators enjoy access to world class competition and top tier athletics teams. Outdoors lovers and active sporting enthusiasts place Madison among the nation's most desirable places to call home.
- #1 Best Place to Live, Livability, 2022
- #2 Happiest Cities in America, Men's Health, 2020
- #9 Best Cities for Runners, SmartAsset, 2020
- #4 Greenest Cities, Zippia, 2020
- #2 Best Cities for Millennials, Rent, 2020
- #1 Cities with Best Work-Life Balance, SmartAsset, 2020
- #9 Most Bikeable Cities in the United States, REI, 2019
- #1 Best College Football Town, Sports Illustrated, 2019
- #2 Most Walkable Cities, Expedia, 2018
- Greater Madison Convention & Visitors Bureau, Rankings
Events & Activities
While Madison has many events to offer throughout the year, below are some of our favorite Madison staples.
The nation's largest producer-only farmers' market. It's held weekly on Saturdays and on Capitol Square between April and November.
The Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra plays outside of the Capitol between June and August for six consecutive Wednesdays every summer. Pack your picnic basket, meet friends and family, and take in the sounds of summer.
This 8k finishes at the 50 yard line in the legendary Camp Randall Stadium, and enjoy complimentary beer while experiencing the UW Marching Band.
The course starts and finishes at the Capitol square, winds along the shores of lakes Monona and Mendota, through UW campus and the Arboretum, past the Governor's Mansion, and through Madison's distinct neighborhoods.
Held each year of Labor Day weekend, Taste of Madison showcases more than 65 local restaurants, 20 beverage stands, and three entertainment stages. Sample a vast variety of unique and traditional dishes over the two-day event.
Every fall, the Wisconsin Book Festival hosts over 100 author events through the year and draws a local and regional audience of 15,000 people.