This post may contain affiliate links, meaning that we will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase. All opinions are those of the author.
Madison is a young, vibrant city that is consistently rated one of the most liveable places in the U.S. The capital of Wisconsin and home to the University of Wisconsin, the city is increasingly a tech hub for companies like Epic Systems, American Family Insurance, and many start ups. Madison revolves around the capitol and downtown which are located on an isthmus between Lake Mendota and Lake Monona.
From May to September you’ll find half of the city at the Memorial Union Terrace. Part of the University of Wisconsin, but open to the public, this is the spot to enjoy a drink and a brat overlooking the lake. You can rent paddle boards and other boats here. You also have to try the Babcock Hall ice cream, made right on campus.
How to Get to Madison, WI
You can fly into Dane County Regional Airport, Truax Field, located on the Northeast side of Madison. There are a surprising number of direct flights to other business hubs like San Francisco, New York, and Charlotte. Madison is about an hour and 15 minute drive from Milwaukee and 2.5 hours from Chicago on Interstate 90/94.
It’s best to have a car to explore Madison. There is a public bus system that works well downtown but is not very direct for getting to places farther out. There are wonderful bike trails all over the city and places to rent bikes by the hour or day.
Where to Eat in Madison, WI for Dinner
The Old Fashioned // The Old Fashioned is a Wisconsin-style tavern located on the capitol square that serves up sconnie foods like cheese curds, iceberg wedge salads and of course, old fashioneds.
Eno Vino // Eno Vino is the restaurant to go to for the best views of the capitol lit up at night. It’s on the 10th floor of the AC hotel and is a great place to start your evening with a glass of wine.
Ian’s Pizza // If you want a great slice of very unique pizza (think mac n’ cheese, drunken ravioli or cheesy potato) at nearly any time of day or night, Ian’s is the spot and a college-student favorite.
Graze // This is another place for good views of the capitol. Graze has farm to table food and eclectic takes on Wisconsin fare with changing menus.
Great Dane // A Madison original, the Great Dane has locations all over the city. Get beer brewed on site and food from an extensive menu. This is always a good spot to meet up with friends and it is open late.
Things to See in Madison, WI at Night
Visit the State Capitol // The Capitol Square is a must-see and the inside of the capitol is definitely worth seeing. There are guided tours, but if nothing else pop in to see the rotunda.
See a show at the Overture Center // The Overture Center has multiple theaters and there is always something on, whether it’s a Broadway play, a concert, dance or a play.
Visit State Street // Wander down State Street, the heartbeat of the city that connects the capitol square to the Union Terrace, to find a range of shops from resale to upscale.
Bike or run on the paths // No matter where you are staying, chances are you are close to a bike path, so go for a run, walk or bike. If you are feeling ambitious the 13-mile loop around Lake Monona has great views, or try the Capital Springs Recreation Area on the south side for prairie views.
Olbrich Gardens // Olbrich Gardens is a beautiful place for an after-work stroll. The gardens are free and include fountains, a rose garden and a full-size Thai pavilion! During the winter the indoor conservatory is a good place to go if you are missing the tropics.
Madison hosts a number of world-class events including the Art Fair on the Square, Concerts on the Square, a huge weekly farmer’s market from April to October, The Crossfit Games, The World Dairy Expo and more. Check the calendar to see what is on when you are in town.
Also check out:
- North Shore, Oahu, HI After 5:00 pm
- St. Petersburg, FL After 5:00 pm
- River North, Chicago After 5:00 pm
- San Francisco’s Financial District After 5:00 pm
- Plano, TX After 5:00 pm
- Charleston, SC After 5:00 pm