6 Things to Do in a Weekend in Madison, Wisconsin

06

Mar

During our Midwest road trip, Stephanie and I spent a couple of days exploring Madison, Wisconsin, and it was such a pretty city to explore! There are historic houses, beautiful lakes, and pretty gardens you can visit. And it’s a small city so you can cover a lot of ground in just a few days. If you’re spending a weekend in Madison, these are the top things I recommend doing!

6 Things to Do in a Weekend in Madison

6 Things to Do in a Weekend in Madison, Wisconsin

Stroll around Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Olbrich Botanical Gardens is a pretty garden with 16 acres to explore, so you can spend an afternoon taking in all the sights. And it’s free to visit!

We were there in the fall, and the colors around the garden were beautiful and bright. There were still lots of flowers in bloom, too. Olbrich Botanical Gardens also has the only Thai pavilion in the US, so you definitely need to see it in person when you’re in Madison!

Tower with yellow vines at Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Bright pink zinnia

Gold Thai pavilion at Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Yellow leaves on trees

See the Wisconsin State Capitol

Madison has built several capitol buildings over the year, and the latest one was completed in 1917. The details on the building are beautiful to see up close, so make sure you spend some time walking around to see it from all sides! And since we were there in the fall, the autumn colors surrounding the building were beautiful.

If you want great views of the capitol building during dinner, Madison has some great downtown rooftop restaurants. We had dinner at Eno Vino and it was great!

Capitol building in Madison

Gold statue on top of Capitol building in Madison

Reflection of Capitol building in Madison in windows

Capitol building in Madison

Capitol building in Madison

Walk around downtown

The Wisconsin State Capitol is right in downtown Madison, so after seeing the building, you can walk around and see more sights. There are lots of restaurants, shops, and theaters you can check out. And it’s a pretty area to walk around if you just want to window shop!

Street in downtown Madison with tree with yellow trees

Street in downtown Madison with tree with yellow trees

New Orpheum theater in Madison

Check out houses in the historic districts

The Mansion Hill Historic District and Third Lake Ridge Historic District have some beautiful houses! If you’re spending a weekend in Madison, walking around the historic district would be my top recommendation if you love historic houses and beautiful scenery. Some of the houses are almost 200 years old, and they’re all still in great condition. 

Historic houses with trees with yellow leaves in Madison

Italianate house in Madison

Historic house in Madison

Historic white brick house in Madison

Historic brick house in Madison

Historic Victorian house in Madison

I loved all the Victorian houses!

Historic red house in Madison

Sidewalk covered in leaves in Madison

Orange leaves against blue sky

Historic Victorian house in Madison

Historic house in Madison

The Carrie Pierce house was built in 1865, and U.S. Representative Orasmus Cole later lived in it.

Historic Victorian house in Madison

Watch sunset on Lake Mendota

Madison is situated on two lakes, and you can get beautiful views of sunset (especially in autumn). We walked around James Madison Park and took in the colorful sights as the sun went down.

Sunset on Lake Mendota in Madison

Sunset on Lake Mendota in Madison

Sunset on Lake Mendota in Madison

Visit the Mustard Museum

Yes, the Mustard Museum is a real place! It is a little outside of Madison, but it’s worth the trip if you want to check out a quirky museum (or buy some mustard). It’s “Home to the World’s Largest Collection of Mustards and Mustard Memorabilia,” and it has quite the interesting collection. And it’s free to visit!

The museum showcases mustards from around the world, various mustard containers (including ones that belonged to royalty), and information about the history of mustard. They also have a big gift shop, so you can also buy a variety of mustard and mustard themed souvenirs! It’s definitely one of the more interesting museums I’ve visited, and it’s an entertaining place to explore if you’re looking for something to do on a rainy day!

Mustard Museum

Mustard Museum exhibit

Mustard container at Mustard Museum

Mustard containers at Mustard Museum

Gift shop at Mustard Museum

So those are my top 6 recommendations for things to do in a weekend in Madison! If you’re looking for more things to do, these were places I want to check out the next time I’m in town:

Wisconsin Historical Museum
Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier
Pheasant Branch Conservatory
See Frank Lloyd Wright houses

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