An engaging, family-friendly locale steeped in history, culture and natural beauty, Madison is not only a fantastic meeting destination, but a great vacation spot as well. Madison is conveniently located just 77 miles west of Milwaukee and 122 miles northwest of Chicago. Madison sits at the heart of Dane County, surrounded by rolling hills, grasslands, forests and four beautiful glacial lakes. The city offers the perfect pairing of small-town charm and a relaxed atmosphere with big-city amenities and excitement.
Madison is a city of education and political strength. Named the capital city of Wisconsin in 1836, Madison's state capitol building was completed in 1917. Home to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as Madison College and Edgewood College, the city prides itself on its progressive, energetic climate. Dynamic and diverse, Madison is home to many ethnic restaurants as well as cultural arts and entertainment attractions.
Highlighted Madison attractions include the Madison Children's Museum, an interactive play experience featuring exhibits on art, science and history. Children can explore an authentically-restored 1830s log home or wander through the museum's four-season rooftop, featuring a greenhouse, solar oven, gardens and live-animal terrariums. Another family-friendly option, the 28-acre Henry Vilas Zoo is one of the nation's few free zoos. The zoo is home to a variety of animals, birds, reptiles and fish ranging from polar bears to kangaroos.
The Wisconsin State Capitol Tour takes visitors through the sprawling, building. Capitol highlights include the country's only granite dome, towering 284 feet high with an interior of 43 stone varieties from around the world, as well as the Governor's Conference Room styled after the council chambers from Doge's Palace in Venice. Visitors to Madison also frequent the Chazen Museum of Art, home to a number of paintings, sculptures, drawings, watercolors, prints, photographs and decorative arts.
Madison is also a leader in sustainability and green practices – in fact; Madison was the first city in the United States to institute a curbside recycling program. The city celebrates its commitment to the environment through a number of green spaces and parks – 260 parks within the city's 64 square miles, to be exact. Green spaces in Madison include the beautiful Olbrich Botanical Gardens, home to 16 acres of outdoor display gardens, a botanical center and the renowned Bolz Conservatory. There are more than 650 plants at the Bolz Conservatory, including exotic plants, flowers, orchids, free-flying birds and a waterfall (outdoor gardens include an English sunken garden with an 80-foot-long reflecting pool and a Thai pavilion and garden, complete with ornamental grasses and bamboos).
On top of its wealth of historical, cultural and natural beauty attractions, Madison is home to a strong culinary scene. Dining options include the sleek Samba Brazilian Grill, which features radii-style service as well as Johnny Delmonico's, voted Madison's best steakhouse, and the contemporary Bonfyre American Grill. Celebrate Madison's commitment to sustainability and local products at Harvest, featuring an evolving menu highlighting local and organic ingredients, or L'Etoile, a sophisticated eatery using local farms' best ingredients.