Madison is an eclectic mix of cultures, from college town to capitol, from single students to stay-at-home moms. So it’s no wonder we’ve earned national notoriety for some of the people and places that have contributed to what makes Madison memorable. Read on for a few fun facts about what makes the greater Madison area great!
Farm to Table Fare
One of Madison’s many claims to fame is that it plays host to the nation’s largest producers-only farmers’ market. Farm to table fare continues to be a top trend nationwide, and you’ll often see our local chefs shopping the market for seasonal and sustainable offerings that are prepared and served that same day at our restaurants, from fine dining destinations to corner food carts.
Greater Madison is microbrew country, and there are ample opportunities to sample it all, from award-winning ales to savory seasonals. But our craft culture doesn’t stop with beers. You may not think of ours as a grape-growing region, but we are home to two award-winning wineries as well as distilleries where spirits and liqueurs are handcrafted in small batches using Wisconsin-grown ingredients. Many of our breweries, wineries and spirits purveyors offer tasting rooms and tours, in addition to making their products available in fine restaurants and stores around the country and online.
Lakes & Landscapes
The greater Madison area is a mecca for recreational opportunities because we offer four seasons of fun! Whether you enjoy winter sports such as skiing or skating, love to be on the lakes (or in them!) for everything from sailing to swimming, you can explore the outdoors year-round in Madison. Fun fact: we boast about having more bikes than cars, and with more than 120 miles of scenic biking and hiking trails to explore, it’s no wonder we were ranked #4 in Best Cycling Towns by USAToday Travel.
Madison is home to several colleges and universities, but is perhaps best known for UW-Madison, a world-class, public research university that has been recognized for everything from research and rankings to Game Day experiences. Our destination’s focus on higher education makes Madison a progressive center of activity, at UW-Madison and Madison College downtown, as well as at Edgewood College in Madison’s Monroe Street neighborhood.
The Wright Stuff
Famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright spent his childhood years in nearby Spring Green and returned to live in the area when he was at the height of his international fame. Greater Madison makes the most of its architectural heritage by offering many opportunities to discover Mr. Wright at special sites, from the Monona Terrace® Community and Convention Center to Taliesin, Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous home, studio, theater, farm and burial site.
Local Fare and Food Fairs
- Madison’s Farmer’s Market features approximately 170 vendors who sell unique items such as artisanal cheeses, emu, venison, bison, rabbit, goose, duck, beef, pork, chicken, turkey, lamb, and trout.
- There are over 56 craft breweries in our DMA and year-round craft events including a Craft Beer Week Festival (only in Wisconsin could a beer “week” last 10 days!)
- Greater Madison also goes beyond beer, with a growing distillery district and local, award-winning wineries.
Madison on the Map
- Madison is one of only 2 U.S. cities built on an isthmus! Nestled between lakes Monona and Mendota, Madison is renowned for its beautiful four-season scenery.
- Greater Madison is an energetic metropolis-and Wisconsin’s vibrant hub-with approximately 500,000 residents.
- Madison has five area lakes, over 260 parks and over 120 miles of shared-use trails and paths.
- Besides boasting natural beauty and outdoor recreation, Madison plays host to stimulating cultural offerings, distinctive restaurants, excellent music venues, and unique shopping, creating a destination that enriches both residents and visitors alike.
- A true college town, the intellectual offerings of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and surrounding schools attract scholars from around the world.
- There’s also plenty of public transit, including green options like hybrid buses and cabs.
Other itinerary ideas
There is no shortage of ideas for free-time fun in our destination! Our online itineraries detail many of Madison’s favorite places to play. Or, download any of the themed itineraries below and include them in newsletters, welcome packets and more.