Located in Dane County, Wisconsin’s capital city of Madison has a population of 243,000 and is home to five lakes, 10 beaches, 260 parks, and more than 200 miles of scenic bike trails. In fact, Madison boasts more bikes than cars in the city, and is a premier bicycling destination. The Madison Capital City State Trail offers 17 miles of paved trails through and around the city. Madison provides a balanced blend of recreational activities, dining options, and a vibrant nightlife. It is also home to The University of Wisconsin-Madison, located on the shores of Lake Mendota.
Major attractions include the Museum Mile, located between the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the state capitol. The Chazen Museum of Art, the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, the Wisconsin Historical Museum, and the Wisconsin Veterans Museum are located here. The Overture Center for the Arts on State Street is an architectural landmark, hosting over 200,000 cultural events per year.
Free tours of the Wisconsin Capitol are also available daily with the exception of major holidays. The capitol building dome itself is over 200 feet tall and is the only granite dome in the nation. Edwin Blashfield’s mural “Resources of Wisconsin” graces the ceiling of the rotunda, and the inside of the building features 43 varieties of stone from around the globe. The diversity continues in the State Supreme Court room, where German and Italian styles dominate.
Architecturally, Madison and nearby Spring Green are home to several Frank Lloyd Wright designed buildings, where the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center is considered to be one of Wright’s final masterpieces. Wright’s personal home, studio, and burial site, Taliesin, is located a short drive away.
For those seeking water activities, Madison offers paddleboard equipment, paddle craft, fishing charter boats, and biplane tours of Lake Monona. For those who prefer to stay on terra firma, rented bicycles are available to those who choose to pedal their way around the approximately 12-mile long multi-purpose lake view trail.
Perhaps the most appealing and unexpected thing we noticed was the accessibility of the heart of Madison to pedestrians and bicyclists. It allows for big city entertainment and dining choices while keeping an air of small town intimacy. Heavy traffic, bustle, and noise, which I find to be distracting and unpleasant in many larger cities, never intruded on our walks while in Madison, and much of the city can indeed be explored on foot if desired.