Destination Madison

Key Info

2 E. Main St.

Price & Hours

Mon-Fri 8 a.m.-6 p.m. | Sat-Sun 8 a.m.-4 p.m.


Free, Tours, Monuments and Memorials, Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend


  • 5.0Value
  • 3.0Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

History buffs and architecture aficionados alike will appreciate a stop at the Wisconsin state Capitol. Constructed between 1906 and 1917, the building is an iconic fixture in the Madison skyline. Among the architectural highlights are the council chambers, which were modeled after Venice's Doge's Palace, as well as the governor's conference room, which is decorated with 26 historical and allegorical paintings by Hugo Ballin. Other chambers within the building feature French and Italian marble, skylights and murals. If you can only admire the capitol from the outside, pay attention to the dome, which rises more than 200 feet and features a bronze Daniel Chester French statue (French is best known for designing the Lincoln Memorial). During the summer months, be sure to stop by the sixth-floor museum and observation deck.

Past visitors described the building as "beautiful" and recommended taking a guided tour for the best experience. 

You'll find the Capitol building in downtown Madison. From the UW Madison campus, simply walk down State Street toward the building. Entrance is free. The Capitol is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and weekends and holidays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free guided tours are offered Monday through Saturday at 9, 10 and 11 a.m., as well as 1, 2 and 3 p.m. Tours on Sundays are available at 1, 2 and 3 p.m., and an additional 4 p.m. tour is available Monday through Friday. For more information, visit the Wisconsin State Legislature website.

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More Best Things To Do in Madison, WI

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Time to Spend
#1 University of Wisconsin – Madison Memorial Union

One of the star attractions of the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, the Memorial Union is beloved by students and locals alike. Open since Oct. 5, 1928, and perched on the shores of Lake Mendota, the union is perhaps best known for its terrace, which faces the lake and is filled with colorful sunburst chairs and tables perfect for enjoying the view, a brat and a pitcher of beer. When the terrace closes for the season (typically in late September), retreat inside to Der Rathskeller. With its German beer hall vibe and cozy fireplaces, Der Rathskeller is a popular spot to watch Badger games. There's also a stage for open mic nights and plenty of seating. Other Union attractions include rotating art exhibits and galleries, an ice cream shop, multiple eateries and a store selling grab-and-go items, along with Badger apparel and gifts. 

Past visitors raved about the union, specifically the terrace, with a few calling it among the top spots for Madison travelers to visit. According to reviewers, the best time to visit is in summer, when the weather is just right for enjoying the building's lakefront perch. Just remember: This is a popular spot, so you may have to wait for one of the coveted terrace tables if you're here during the busy evening hours.

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Joey Reuteman/Destination Madison
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