Madison Travel Guide
State Capitol © Jeff Dean
The capital of Wisconsin and home of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, 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 Wisconsin State 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 greenest city in the nation 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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