A Family’s Guide to Visiting Madison | What to Do, Where to Stay, Where to Eat & Other Helpful Info

So you’ve booked a family trip to Madison, but have no idea where to begin your planning? Look no further! Welcome to Madison Moms Blog’s kid-friendly visitor’s guide to the Greater Madison Area.

Madison is a city rich with culture and entertainment—perfect for those searching for a destination that the whole family can enjoy. Our weather is ideal in the summer and (nearly) perfect in the spring and fall!

This comprehensive visitors guide is sponsored by our event partner the Madison Concourse Hotel. If you have a chance to stay there, we recommend it! In a prime location downtown Madison, they are Madison’s premier hotel and offer guests a special Madison experience through their distinctive customer focus and perfect location that cannot be found anywhere else!

Where to Stay

The Madison Concourse Hotel
This upscale hotel in downtown Madison is a 3-minute walk from the State Capitol.
1 West Dayton Street – Madison

Photo Credit :: www.concoursehotel.com

Relax at the Madison Concourse Hotel with a gorgeous view of the city! Photo credit :: www.concoursehotel.com

HotelRED
Located across the street from UW Madison (and Camp Randall Stadium), HotelRED is the first true stylish boutique hotel in downtown Madison.
1501 Monroe Street – Madison

AC Hotel 
Located right in the heart of Capitol Square – enjoy stylish, spacious quarters that let you enjoy the details that matter.
1 N Webster Street – Madison

Hilton Madison Monona Terrace
The Hilton Madison Monona Terrace hotel is located in the heart of downtown Madison, overlooking Lake Monona.
9 East Wilson Street – Madison

Sheraton Madison Hotel
Centrally located in Wisconsin’s state capital, Sheraton Madison Hotel is close to all of the major city attractions, including the University of Wisconsin.
706 John Nolen Drive – Madison

Hyatt Place Madison/Downtown
A business casual hotel in Downtown Madison. Hyatt Place Madison/Downtown features inviting rooms and friendly services – walking distance from UW.
333 W Washington Avenue – Madison

The Wisconsin Union Hotel-Madison
The Wisconsin Union Hotel is ideally located in the heart of the UW Madison campus in Union South with offerings like no other hotel – several restaurants, a coffee/wine bar, famous Babcock ice cream and recreational area, including bowling and rock-climbing wall all in one beautiful building.
1308 West Dayton Street – Madison

Hotel Ruby Marie
First built in 1873, this restored Victorian-style hotel is half a mile from the Wisconsin State Capitol and the beginning of State Street, home to several trendy restaurants and nightlife.
524 East Wilson Street – Madison

Mansion Hill Inn
The Mansion Hill Inn is Madison’s most luxurious boutique hotel, located downtown and just blocks from the Capitol Square.
424 North Pinckney Street – Madison

Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites Madison West
The Holiday Inn is a 4-minute drive from Capital Brewery, 5 miles from the University of Wisconsin, 7 miles from downtown and also features Madison’s only indoor waterpark. 
1109 Fourier Drive – Madison

The Edgewater
The Edgewater is a premier hotel and one of the nation’s most popular hotels, located near the Capitol and its bustling historic square.
1001 Wisconsin Place – Madison

Transportation

In Madison, the best way to get around with a family is by car. Downtown is pedestrian-friendly, but if you plan to visit attractions outside of downtown, a car is a must. Madison also offers the services of Uber and Lyft if you’d prefer to not mess with having a car. Just download the apps, request a car, and you can easily travel around our beautiful city.

Madison B-cycle is another wonderful option for getting around town. B-station bike stands can be found downtown Madison, and bikes can be picked up and dropped off at various B-stations as you make your way across the city.

What to Do

Downtown Farmers Market
The Largest Producer-Only Farmers’ Market in the U.S!
2 East Main Street – Madison

Memorial Union Terrace
When most people think Memorial Union, they think of the Terrace—and those brightly colored sunburst chairs. Set on the shores of Lake Mendota, this campus icon is Madison’s most popular back porch.
800 Langdon Street – MadisonHenry Vilas Zoo
Henry Vilas Zoo is FREE to the public, open year-round.
702 South Randall Avenue – Madison

UW Arboretum
Outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers relish this stretch of preserved land. Spread across more than 1200 acres, the arboretum features a variety of terrains.
1207 Seminole Highway – Madison

Taliesin Preservation Tours
May 1 through October 31, Taliesin Preservation offers a variety of tours of the Taliesin Estate in Spring Green, Wisconsin. These tours are designed for every level of interest.
5481 County Road C – Spring Green, WI

Olbrich Botanical Gardens
Stroll 16 acres of outdoor gardens featuring stunning landscapes and Midwest-hardy plants. Visit the tropics in the Bolz Conservatory, filled with exotic plants, flowers, orchids, birds, and a waterfall.
3330 Atwood Avenue – Madison

Madison Children’s Museum
Madison Children’s Museum is an award-winning destination for fun family activities and hands-on learning.
100 North Hamilton Street – Madison

State Street Walking Tours
Sponsored by the Madison Trust for Historic Preservation, this summertime tour series explores one of the city’s most notable thoroughfares.
107 State Street – Madison

Geology Museum
The UW–Madison Geology Museum is a geology and paleontology museum housed in Weeks Hall, in the southwest part of the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus. The museum’s main undertakings are exhibits, outreach to the public, and research.
1215 West Dayton Street – Madison

The Overture Center
The Overture Center for the Arts is a stunning architectural landmark in the heart of Madison’s thriving cultural arts district.
201 State Street – Madison

Madison Mallards (Baseball)
The Madison Mallards are a collegiate summer baseball team based in Madison that plays in the Northwoods League.
2920 N Sherman Avenue – Madison

Capital Brewery
Capital Brewery is a time-tested hot spot offering tours & a beer garden featuring craft brews & outdoor seating.
7734 Terrace Avenue – Middleton

Wisconsin Brewing Company
Brewery featuring craft beers & tours also hosts seasonal events in their backyard next to a pond.
1079 American Way, Verona, WI 53593

Madison Museum of Contemporary Art
MMoCA is a museum featuring modern and contemporary art. Exhibits have included works by Claes Oldenburg, Robert Frank, and Martin Kersels.
227 State Street – Madison

Aldo Leopold Nature Center
Nature-focused institution with hands-on displays, adult & child public programs, & hiking trails.
330 Femrite Drive – Monona

Paddle Boat or Canoe on Lake Wingra
Wingra Boats offers canoe, kayak and paddle boat rentals at the beach on Lake Wingra. Bring your family down and enjoy the day boating or fishing on Lake Wingra.
824 Knickerbocker Street – Madison

Shopping

Monroe Street
This charming neighborhood lies near the university and several city greenspaces and boasts a wealth of intriguing shops and restaurants in which to browse. Spread across more than a mile, the district offers practically any sort of independent enterprise you could imagine. Clothing boutiques, interior design shops, art galleries, delightful restaurants, antique stores, and domestic goods venues simply hint at the breadth of possibility.

Greenway Station
Home to several shops, hotels and restaurants, one could easily find everything they want and more at Madison’s Greenway Station. This outdoor shopping complex houses over 35 diverse stores, national and locally-owned, which carry everything from home goods to clothing, shoes and accessories for everyone in the family.

Hilldale Mall
If you prefer local enterprises to ubiquitous chain stores, Hilldale is just your kind of mall. Anchored by Macy’s and Metcalfe’s Sentry Foods, the upscale complex offers a selection of specialty shops, including ones devoted to clothing, jewelry, music, shoes, and specific services.

Williamson ‘Willy’ Street
Willy Street offers some off-beat shops and fascinating shops and an increasingly gentrified restaurant scene. The Willy Street Co-op, an organic food store, is a prominent resident, and in September the neighborhood hosts the Willy Street Fair, a fun outdoor festival.

State Street
State Street stretches from UW-Madison to the State Capitol. The six-block pedestrian mall is chock-a-block with businesses, from ethnic restaurants and book stores to apparel boutiques and art galleries, jewelry shops and coffee houses to nightclubs and theaters. Also in the area are a number of museums, including the Madison Children’s Museum.

Where to Eat

There are a number of places to eat in Madison, but we’re letting you in on a little secret: where the locals go to eat great food!

Graze (Gastropub)

Cooper’s Tavern (Rustic)

Great Dane Brew Pub (Brewery)

The Old Fashioned (Wisconsin-Themed)

Merchant (Gastropub)

Fresco (Modern Dining)

Harvest (Fine Dining)

L’Etoile (Upscale)

Dlux (Burgers)

Ian’s Pizza (Pizza)

Pizza Brutta (Pizza)

Ale Asylum (Large Microbrewery)

Brocach (Irish Pub)

Red Sushi (Sushi)

The Tornado Room (Steakhouse)

Capitol Chophouse (Steakhouse)

Oliva (Mediterranean)

Chez Nanou (French Bistro)

Fromagination (Fondue)

Cento (Italian)

The Green Owl Cafe (Vegetarian)

Monty’s Blue Plate Diner (Vegetarian/Vegan Options)

Brunch

Hubbard Avenue Diner

Marigold Kitchen

Bassett Street Brunch Club

Mickies Dairy Bar

Sardine

Kid Friendly

Ella’s Deli (they even have a carousel!) 

Roman Candle (Pizza)

Madison Sourdough

Bluephies

Zuzu Cafe & Market

Off the Beaten Path

If you have a few extra days, some of our favorite day trips include:

Wollersheim Winery

Devil’s Lake State Park

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