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
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!
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!
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!
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.
I loved all the Victorian houses!
The Carrie Pierce house was built in 1865, and U.S. Representative Orasmus Cole later lived in it.
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.
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!
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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