Madison Travel Guide

State Capitol © Jeff Dean

Madison, the capital of Wisconsin and home of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is a small city bursting with vibrancy and progressiveness. It has the same abundance of youthful energy and innovation combined with the richness in arts, culture and history that make college towns such beguiling destinations.

Nowhere are all these attributes more prominently on display than State Street, an outdoor pedestrian mall anchored by the stunning Capitol building at one end and the university campus at the other. State Street is a picturesque walkway packed with eclectic boutiques, sidewalk cafes, coffee shops, ethnic restaurants, rare booksellers and arts and theatre venues. The lovely Capitol Square at the top of the street is the site of popular community events, including art fairs and food festivals, Saturday farmers' markets and evening chamber orchestra concerts. Nearby neighbourhoods Mansion Hill and University Heights abound with architectural sights, from imposing sandstone mansions to designs by Frank Lloyd Wright and other Prairie School masters.

Madison, however, has yet another advantage with which to lure travellers - beautiful scenery. Situated on an isthmus between Lakes Monona and Mendota, the 'green city' is surrounded by three more lakes, an extensive range of parkland and the spectacular UW-Madison Arboretum, a 1,260-acre research centre featuring the oldest and most varied collection of restored ecological communities in the world. It is open to the public for hiking, biking, skiing and snowshoeing. Sailing, boating, swimming and ice fishing are also highly popular sports in the area. This proximity to the great outdoors, along with Madison's many other charms, has been a key factor in the city consistently being ranked among the country's top places to live, work, play and raise a family.

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