Madison is growing by the day. The area attracts young professionals starting their careers, seasoned medical professionals transferring to UW Hospitals, business people and entrepreneurs, and families. There is no shortage of fun things to do in Madison WI for adults!
Madison is an active community year round. In the summer, Madisonians stay busy on the lakes, biking, hiking, and visiting many fairs and festivals. While we hunker down a little in the winter, you’ll still find a city bursting at the seams with activities.
Dane County is Wisconsin’s fastest growing county, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It accounted for more than one-third of the state’s net population growth between 2010 and 2020, at a 15% increase. The Madison metro area is also the fastest growing in the state!
If you’re considering moving to Madison, please reach out to us! We’d love to give you a private tour of the city, and answer all of the questions you have about living here.
Explore the great outdoors: Hiking, biking, boating and more!
You may not think of hiking when it comes to the city, but Madison is closely surrounded by hundreds of miles of hiking trails. Some areas within the city, such as Olin Park – with its view of the Madison skyline – and the UW Arboretum, have miles of beautiful, secluded nature trails.
If you like to ride around on two wheels, Madison is well known for its accessible bike paths. In fact, it has continually ranked in the top 10 “Best Cities for Biking” nationwide by People For Bikes. You can bike from one end of Madison to the other, from a suburb right to the downtown Capitol Square, or even to towns far beyond the city limits on paved biking trails.
You cannot visit Madison without noticing its lakes. Situated on an isthmus between Lake Mendota and Lake Monona, with more lakes within a short drive, Madison boasts of a humming lake life year round. In the summer, the lakes attract thousands of boaters, kayakers, sailors, swimmers, stand-up paddle boarders and fishermen alike.
For those who don’t have a means of transport on the water, boat rental shops are open daily in the summer. In a few quick paddles, you will be kayaking on Lake Monona, in front of the Madison skyline.
Click here to see our comprehensive list of things to do in the summer in Madison, including the best hiking and biking trails, festivals and more!
Grab dinner at an award-winning restaurant
Eating is always fun right? This is where Madison’s small town feel gives way to big city culture. Hundreds of casual to fine-dining restaurants line the downtown streets, several serving food by award-winning chefs. A night on the town could consist of an upscale farm-to-table meal across the street from the Capitol building, a classy cocktail or martini at Merchant, followed by a Broadway show at the Overture Center for the
Arts, all within a few blocks.
Madison boasts of a diverse food scene. You’ll find authentic food from all over the world, all within a few blocks of each other downtown!
Popular Madison dining areas:
- Capitol Square (downtown)
- State Street
- Monroe Street
- Willy Street
Catch a show at one of the many performance venues
World-famous shows, performers, comedians, musicians and speakers cycle through the area year round. In addition to Broadway shows, concerts and performances at the Overture Center, performers regularly stop at other downtown venues, such as the Orpheum Theater, The Sylvee, Breese Stevens Field, the Alliant Energy Center, and Comedy on State.
Best Madison entertainment venues:
- Alliant Energy Center
- Comedy on State
- Overture Center for the Arts
- The Orpheum Theater
- The Sylvee
- The Piano Bar
Visit a museum or do some indoor sightseeing
Madison is home to a handful of museums that could occupy you for hours on end. Enjoy the unique pieces at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. When you’re sick of the winter weather, get a taste of summer at Olbrich Botanical Gardens (they often have special exhibits throughout the year too!). The inside of the capitol building is open to the public, and a beautiful indoor place to explore!
- Chazen Museum of Art
- Madison Children’s Museum
- Museum of Contemporary Art
- National Mustard Museum
- Olbrich Botanical Gardens
- Wisconsin State Capitol
Hang out at a local brewery
Entertainment, dining, shopping, and of course two of Wisconsin’s staples – cheese and beer – extend well beyond the streets of downtown. You can’t go more than a few miles without finding a new restaurant to try, or a spot to taste some Wisconsin cheese curds and sip a locally brewed beer. Microbreweries and gastropubs are some of the most popular local destinations, and new ones pop up yearly.
Breweries to visit in (or near) Madison:
- Ale Asylum
- Karben4 Brewing
- New Glarus Brewing
- One Barrel Brewing Company
- The Great Dane
- Wisconsin Brewing Company
Other fun things to do in Madison WI for adults:
- Bingo or Trivia: Many restaurants and bars host weekly bingo and trivia – you can find games to join on the weekends and weeknights, and they are often free!
- Signs by Caitlin: Make a unique and beautiful sign for your home with this woman-owned, family-run business. They host public workshops throughout the Madison area.
- Board and Brush: As of this writing, there are two Board and Brush locations in the Madison area (Mount Horeb and Sun Prairie). You’ll enjoy a night out creating a new masterpiece for your home!
- Fired Up Pottery Studio: Paint a cute piece of decor at this studio in Monona! A great activity for everyone in the family.
- Indoor arcades: There are several arcades that cater to adults. From modern to retro too! Check out Dave & Buster’s, BB Jack’s, Geeks Mania Arcade, or Nerdhaven Arcade.
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