7-Day Itinerary in Madison, WI

7-Day Itinerary in Madison, WI

Welcome to Madison, Wisconsin! If you’re planning a trip to this vibrant city, you’re in for a treat. With its bustling downtown area, beautiful parks, and rich cultural scene, Madison offers a little something for everyone. In this 7-day itinerary, I’ll guide you through the best places to visit, giving you a taste of the city’s charm and ensuring you make the most of your time here.

Key Takeaways:

  • Madison, WI is a vibrant city with a variety of attractions and activities to enjoy.
  • Explore downtown Madison and experience the lively atmosphere of State Street.
  • Visit the famous Dane County Farmers’ Market for local treats and fresh produce.
  • Discover the beauty of the Olbrich Botanical Gardens and take a bike ride through the city.
  • Immerse yourself in the history and culture of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Day 1: Arrival and Downtown Exploration

Welcome to Madison, Wisconsin! On your first day, take the time to settle into your hotel and explore the vibrant downtown area. Staying in a hotel downtown not only offers convenience but also provides easy access to the city’s top attractions and dining options.

Consider booking a room at one of the following downtown Madison hotels:

  • The Graduate Madison
  • The Edgewater

Once you’re settled, head to Capitol Square for a taste of Wisconsin tradition – a fish fry at The Old Fashioned. This popular restaurant serves up delicious seafood dishes and has a cozy, rustic atmosphere.

After dinner, take a leisurely stroll down State Street, a bustling pedestrian mall filled with an array of restaurants, shops, and entertainment venues. This vibrant street is the heart of downtown Madison and offers a lively atmosphere.

End your evening on one of State Street’s charming patios, where you can enjoy a sweet treat from The Chocolate Shoppe or a refreshing bubble tea from Sencha Tea Bar.

Hotels Dining Attractions
The Graduate Madison The Old Fashioned State Street
The Edgewater The Chocolate Shoppe

Take advantage of your first day in Madison by immersing yourself in the vibrant downtown scene. From the unique flavors of local cuisine to the lively ambiance of State Street, you’ll get a taste of what this charming city has to offer.

Day 2: Farmers’ Market and Botanical Gardens

Start your second day in Madison by visiting the Dane County Farmers’ Market, which is held on Saturday mornings from April to November. The market is a vibrant hub of local farmers, artisans, and food vendors, offering a wide variety of fresh produce, dairy products, baked goods, and much more. Take your time to explore the stalls, chat with the friendly vendors, and indulge in local treats like cheese curds and homemade pies.

If you’re visiting Madison on a different day, don’t worry! You can still enjoy a fantastic breakfast at Marigold Kitchen, a popular brunch spot known for its delicious farm-to-table dishes. Treat yourself to their mouthwatering pancakes, fluffy omelets, or savory breakfast sandwiches.

After satisfying your taste buds, it’s time to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature at the Olbrich Botanical Gardens. Grab a bike from the Madison B-Cycle bike-sharing program and enjoy a leisurely ride to the gardens. Located on the shores of Lake Monona, the Olbrich Botanical Gardens feature stunning landscapes, serene walking paths, and a fascinating collection of plants from all over the world.

Don’t miss the Bolz Conservatory, a tropical oasis filled with exotic plants, vibrant flowers, and tropical birds. Take a moment to relax and unwind in the tranquil Thai Pavilion, a gift from the Thai government that offers breathtaking views of the gardens.

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, it’s time to refuel with a delicious lunch. Head to Alchemy Café, a neighborhood favorite known for its gourmet pub grub and craft beer selection. Indulge in their homemade burgers, mouthwatering sandwiches, or flavorful salads.

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to try something different, make your way to Lao Laan Xang, a family-owned restaurant serving authentic Laotian cuisine. From spicy papaya salad to savory stir-fries, their menu is filled with bold and unique flavors that will leave you wanting more.

If you’re interested in a guided food tour to explore the local food scene, consider joining Madison Eats for their Atwood neighborhood tour. This culinary adventure will take you to some of the best hidden gems in Madison, offering a chance to taste a variety of local delicacies and learn about the city’s culinary history.

Attraction Address Opening Hours Contact
Dane County Farmers’ Market Capitol Square, Madison, WI Saturdays, April-November: 6:15 am – 1:45 pm +1 (608) 238-7886
Marigold Kitchen 118 S Pinckney St, Madison, WI Monday-Friday: 7:00 am – 2:00 pm
Saturday-Sunday: 8:00 am – 2:00 pm
+1 (608) 232-6470
Olbrich Botanical Gardens 3330 Atwood Ave, Madison, WI Monday-Sunday: 8:00 am – 8:00 pm +1 (608) 238-7989
Alchemy Café 1980 Atwood Ave, Madison, WI Monday-Friday: 11:00 am – 8:30 pm
Saturday-Sunday: 9:00 am – 8:30 pm
+1 (608) 232-3575
Lao Laan Xang 2098 Atwood Ave, Madison, WI Monday-Friday: 11:00 am – 8:30 pm
Saturday-Sunday: 12:00 pm – 8:30 pm
+1 (608) 232-2425

Day 3: University Campus and Museums

On your third day in Madison, I recommend starting your day with a leisurely stroll through the picturesque University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. As you wander around, take a moment to admire the historic buildings and lush green spaces that make this campus one of the most beautiful in the country.

After exploring the campus, head over to the Madison Children’s Museum, located just a short distance away. This interactive museum offers a variety of exhibits and activities that are both educational and entertaining for children of all ages. From hands-on science experiments to creative art projects, there’s no shortage of fun to be had at the Madison Children’s Museum.

Continuing your cultural exploration, make your way to the Wisconsin Veterans Museum. This museum provides a fascinating look into the military history of the state of Wisconsin. Through its exhibits and displays, you’ll gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the sacrifices made by the men and women who have served in the Armed Forces.

No visit to Madison would be complete without taking a free guided tour of the Wisconsin State Capitol. Marvel at the stunning architecture and intricate details of this iconic building as you learn about its rich history and significance to the state. From the observation deck on the sixth floor, you’ll also enjoy panoramic views of the cityscape.

For lunch, I recommend indulging in a slice of unique pizza at Ian’s Pizza, a local favorite that offers a variety of unconventional toppings. Alternatively, you can grab a quick and delicious meal from one of the numerous food carts situated around the Capitol Square. These food carts offer a diverse range of culinary delights from all around the world, providing a taste of Madison’s vibrant food scene.

Make the most of your third day in Madison by immersing yourself in the culture and history that the city has to offer. From the impressive University of Wisconsin-Madison campus to the engaging exhibits at the Madison Children’s Museum and the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, there’s a wealth of knowledge and experiences waiting to be explored. Don’t forget to take a memorable tour of the Wisconsin State Capitol before enjoying a delightful lunch at one of the many local eateries.

Highlights of Day 3:

  • Stroll through the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus
  • Explore the Madison Children’s Museum
  • Learn about the state’s military history at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum
  • Take a free guided tour of the Wisconsin State Capitol
  • Enjoy unique pizza at Ian’s Pizza or grab a meal from a local food cart

Day 4-6: Outdoor Activities and Cultural Experiences

Spend the next few days exploring the natural beauty and cultural offerings of Madison. There’s something for everyone to enjoy, from outdoor adventures to architectural marvels.

Monona Terrace

Start your day with a refreshing morning walk to Monona Terrace, a stunning architectural landmark situated on the shores of Lake Monona. Take in the breathtaking views of the lake and cityscape as you stroll along the waterfront.

Kayaking in Madison

For a unique and exhilarating experience, rent a kayak and explore Madison’s lakes. Paddle along the serene waters, taking in the picturesque scenery and enjoying the peaceful ambiance. Kayaking is a great way to connect with nature and appreciate Madison’s natural beauty.

Betty Lou Cruises

If you prefer a leisurely cruise, hop aboard a Betty Lou Cruise and see Madison from a different perspective. Relax on the deck as you glide along the water, taking in the panoramic views of the city’s skyline and iconic landmarks.

Madison Parks

Madison is known for its abundance of parks, offering endless opportunities for outdoor activities. Visit parks like Olbrich Park, Brittingham Park, and Vilas Park, where you can enjoy activities such as paddleboarding, sailing, and fishing. Breathe in the fresh air and immerse yourself in the natural surroundings as you partake in these recreational adventures.

Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture in Madison

Don’t miss the chance to explore the architectural masterpieces designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in Madison. Visit the Robert Lamp House, a beautiful example of Wright’s Prairie School style, or the Unitarian Meeting House, renowned for its unique design and serene interior. Marvel at the intricate details and visionary concepts that make Wright’s work truly timeless.

After a day filled with outdoor adventures and cultural exploration, treat yourself to a delightful dinner at one of Madison’s innovative and acclaimed restaurants. Enjoy a farm-to-table experience at Forequarter or indulge in Italian cuisine at Cento.


Madison, Wisconsin offers a unique blend of nature, culture, and culinary delights. This 7-day itinerary serves as your ultimate Madison travel guide, providing a comprehensive plan to explore the best of what the city has to offer. From vibrant downtown attractions to exciting outdoor activities and immersive cultural experiences, Madison has something to satisfy every traveler’s taste.

Whether you find joy in strolling down State Street and indulging in local cuisine or marveling at the intricate architecture of the Wisconsin State Capitol, Madison will captivate you at every turn. Embrace the serenity of the city’s lakes and waterways by kayaking on the shimmering waters or embarking on a scenic cruise with Betty Lou Cruises. And don’t forget to immerse yourself in the beauty of Madison’s parks and discover the iconic Frank Lloyd Wright architecture sprinkled throughout the city.

With this Madison vacation guide in hand, you can make the most of your time in this charming city. Follow the itinerary, and you’ll create unforgettable memories while exploring the wonders of Madison. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready to embark on an adventure you won’t soon forget.


What are the top attractions in Madison, WI?

Some of the top attractions in Madison include the Wisconsin State Capitol, the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, the Olbrich Botanical Gardens, and the Madison Children’s Museum.

Where is the best place to stay in Madison?

The best place to stay in Madison is downtown, as it gives you easy access to many attractions and restaurants. Consider staying at The Graduate Madison or The Edgewater, both located in downtown Madison.

What are some popular dining options in Madison?

Madison has a variety of dining options to suit all tastes. Some popular choices include The Old Fashioned, known for its fish fry, Alchemy Café for gourmet pub grub, and Lao Laan Xang for traditional Laotian fare. State Street also offers a range of restaurants and cafés to choose from.

What outdoor activities are available in Madison?

There are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy in Madison, including paddleboarding, sailing, fishing, and kayaking on the lakes. Madison’s parks are also great for walking, biking, and picnicking.

Can I visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s buildings in Madison?

Yes, you can visit several buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in Madison, including the Robert Lamp House and the Unitarian Meeting House. These architectural gems offer a unique glimpse into Wright’s genius.

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