Welcome to Cvent’s Madison meeting planning guide – a city guide for Madison meeting planning professionals. Planners looking to hold a meeting in a city frequently lauded as one of the best U.S. cities in which to work, live and play should consider culturally rich Madison, Wisconsin. As Wisconsin's capital city and a center of cultural attractions, fine restaurants and unique Madison event venues abound. There is a wealth of natural beauty, thanks to its location between the beautiful Lake Monona and Lake Mendota.
Downtown Madison is located just minutes from the Dane County Regional Airport. Serving more than 82 commercial flights daily, Dane County Regional offers nonstop service to such cities as New York, Washington D.C., Chicago and Atlanta.
The two largest meeting sites in Madison are the Alliant Energy Center and the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center, which together give the city the ability to host groups of up to 10,000 people. The city's Alliant Energy Center spans a 164-acre campus in the heart of Madison, featuring nine agricultural exhibit buildings, 5,800 on-site parking spaces, a 255,000-square-foot Exhibition Hall including a 30,000-square-foot front lobby, 14 meeting rooms, eight ancillary rooms and the multi-purpose Veterans Memorial Coliseum for up to 10,000 guests. The center is also home to Willow Island, a 29-acre green space ideal for festivals and concerts, and an Arena, which offers a variety of floor surfaces, including carpeting, concert, dirt or ice and features grandstand seating for 550 people. Alliant Energy Center's Exhibition Hall is also connected via enclosed walkway to the 140-room Clarion Suites Madison Central hotel.
Madison's Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center sits on the shore of Lake Monona in downtown Madison, just two blocks from the Wisconsin State Capitol. The green-minded 250,000-square-foot, multi-level convention center features such meeting spaces as a 40,000-square-foot exhibition hall, 14,000-square-foot ballroom, 68,000-square-foot rooftop garden and 310-seat multimedia lecture hall. The Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center is attached to the 240-room Hilton Madison Monona Terrace.
Whether it's time to enjoy local and global fare or take meetings off-campus, many of the city's fine dining restaurants also double as Madison event space. The Samba Brazilian Grill offers unique two-course dining with rodizio service meats served tableside, while the French favorite L'Etoile prides itself on its use of local, natural and wholesome ingredients. Located on Madison's Capitol Square, Harvest has been voted as among the country's best organic and farm-to-table eateries, while Johnny Delmonico's has been voted as the city's finest steakhouse. Finally, Bonfyre American Grille specializes in contemporary American cuisine served in an upscale casual environment.
Madison is bursting with family-friendly attractions and unique facilities. Among the many Madison meeting sites is the renowned Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, which offers such spaces as 51,000 square feet of exhibition space and a 7,100-square-foot rooftop sculpture garden. The museum sits within the downtown Overture Center for the Arts, home to 10 resident arts organizations, seven performance facilities and several meeting spaces. Other Madison events facilities include the beautiful Olbrich Botanical Gardens, celebrated Henry Vilas Zoo and stately Wisconsin Veterans Museum.
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.
All average costs based on U.S. Government Per Diem rates as published by the U.S. General Services Administration.
Madison experiences a four-season, humid continental climate. The city's warmest month tends to be July, with an average temperature high of 84°F and average low of 58°F. January tends to be the city's coldest month, with an average temperature high of 27°F and average low of 5°F. Madison experiences an average of 36 inches of annual precipitation, with the most (4.6 inches) falling in June. The city experiences moderate to occasionally heavy snowfall, with an annual average of 44 inches. The best time to visit Madison is in the spring and fall months, which bring mild, pleasant temperatures and minimal precipitation.
Alliant Energy Center
Celebrated for its versatility and fantastic on-site amenities, the Alliant Energy Center spans a 164-acre campus just outside of downtown Madison. Alliant Energy Center welcomes more than one million people attending more than 500 events annually. The campus is home to 9 agricultural exhibit buildings, the 255,000-square-foot Exhibition Hall, multipurpose Veterans Memorial Coliseum, 22,000-square-foot arena and 29-acre Willow Island outdoor space. The center's Exhibition Hall features a 30,000-square-foot front lobby, 14 meeting rooms and eight ancillary rooms, while the Veterans Memorial Coliseum offers seating for 10,000 guests. The Arena features grandstand seating for 550 guests. The Exhibition Hall is connected via walkway to the 140-room Clarion Suites Madison Central hotel. Meeting amenities include 5,800 onsite parking space, award-winning catering services and on-site, audio-visual services.
Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center
The beautiful Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center is located in the heart of downtown Madison, on the shore of Lake Monona, just two blocks from the Wisconsin State Capitol. A leader in green meetings, the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed 250,000-square-foot, multi-level convention center features such spaces as a 40,000-square-foot exhibition hall, 14,000-square-foot ballroom, 68,000-square-foot rooftop garden, 28,000-square-feet of meeting rooms and 310-seat multi-media lecture hall. Convention amenities include award-winning catering service, business center, in-house audio-visual services, lakeside bike and hike path and 600-space attached parking garage. The Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center is also attached to the 240-room Hilton Madison Monona Terrace.
Dane County Regional Airport (MSN)
Approximate taxi fare: $15-20 USD
Located just five miles northeast of Madison's city center, Dane County Regional Airport serves as the gateway to the Madison area. The airport serves more than 82 commercial flights daily, with nonstop destinations to Atlanta, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Detroit,Memphis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, New York, Newark and Washington D.C. The single-terminal airport serves more than 1.5 million passengers each year. Airport amenities include a variety of restaurants, ranging from local eateries to national franchises, shopping, and wireless Internet capability. The airport is served by the Madison Metro Transit Route 20, which busses passengers from the airport to downtown Madison.
Airline carriers serving Dane County Regional Airport
Madison Metro Transit offers daily public bus service throughout Madison, Middleton, Fitchburg and Verona. The Alliant Energy Center is directly serviced by Routes 11, 12 and 13, while Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center is directly serviced by Routes 1, 3, 4, 19, 38, 56 and 57. The system's Route 20 provides daily service to the Dane County Regional Airport. Bus fare is $2 one way for adults and $1.25 one way for children ages 5 to 17. A one-day unlimited ride pass costs $4.50, while 10-ride passes cost $15 for adults and $10 for children. Children under 5 ride free.
Amtrak operates two bus stations in the Madison area. The first is located within the University of Wisconsin at 800 Langdon Street; the second is located in South Madison at Highway 51 and East Broadway Avenue.
The Madison Greyhound station is located at 1213 Huxley Street and is open seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Greyhound also serves stops within the University of Wisconsin campus.
Rental car companies represented at the Dane County Regional Airport include Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz and National. Each company maintains a counter within the airport's baggage claim area.
Dane County Regional Airport passengers can hail taxi cabs at the north end of the airport's baggage claim area; expect to pay about $20 in taxi fare from the airport to downtown Madison.
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