6 Kick-A*s Things To Do In Madison, Wisconsin

downtown madison wisconsin at night

It’s not like I needed any more reasons to love Wisconsin. After my midwest road trip, when I visited Bayfield and the Apostle Islands and Milwaukee, I was all in on this underrated, under-visited, and under-talked-about state. No changing my mind. And then Madison came along to steal my heart, too, with their insanely awesome virtual tour. Seriously, what’s a girl to do? How about write a blog post telling everyone else about all the kick-a*s things to do in Madison, Wisconsin? So, yes. That’s happening. Keep reading.

Much thanks to Destination Madison, who was kind enough to show this Wisconsin fan girl a fun time!


exploring all the cool things to do in madison wisconsin during a virtual press trip

My Top Two Things To Do In Madison, Wisconsin (Tied for 1st)

Eat #AllTheCheese

Wisconsin is serious about cheese. It requires a cheesemaking certification and is the only state that offers a “Master Cheesemaker Program” (which is like a cheese PhD). And if you’re thinking, “Oh, it’s just cheese; you can get it anywhere,” seriously—just try Wisconsin’s. I had no idea what cheese curds actually were when I last visited and, actually, thought it sounded kinda gross, but… how wrong I was. I couldn’t stop eating them. So, Destination Madison really brought its A game when they sent us #allthecheese samples and invited Fromagination to present for us.

We got three big blocks of incredible cheese—Marieke’s Young Gouda (like bud-dah), Landmark’s Anabasque (sheep cheese aged in a cave), and LaClare’s Evalon (award-winning goat cheese). The blocks only lasted a couple days in my house. We also got dried fruits and corn nuts and crackers and a whole guide about how to properly set up our cheese trays. Which was so awesome, I did an entire mini photo shoot of it.

P.S. I’ve never had dried pineapple in my life, but I’ll be snacking on it in forevermore.

P.P.S. Fromagination, I heart your marketing materials.

Drink #AllTheBeer

Wisconsin doesn’t mess around with its tasty brews either. Capital Brewery was kind enough to pair a couple cold bevvies with our cheese, and the combination was nothing short of heavenly. We got some Ye Olde Hopped IPA and a Kölsch (which was my personal favorite). It’s described as having “light maltiness with a hint of pear and a clean crisp finish.” Indeed… indeed…

And the IPA tasted like any IPA tastes to me. I’m sure true aficionados would gasp at me saying that, but I’m not an IPA expert at all, so I’m actually a terrible person to ask. It was alright, just too hoppy for my personal preferences. As all IPAs are to me. “Subtle caramel sweetness plays with citrusy flavors and aromas of the two Yakima Chief Hop Blends, with a mild lingering spicy bitterness.” …I still drank the whole thing, so…

It’s impossible to make a decision as to which tasting—beer or cheese—tops the list of things to do in Madison, Wisconsin, so I say just go for it and do both. Why the hell not? Enjoy.

One Of My Unexpectedly Favorite Things To Do In Madison, Wisconsin

Try #AllTheMustard

I guess Middleton, right next to Madison, has a National Mustard Museum. Nope, not kidding. Barry Levenson, the owner, is actually a former Assistant Attorney General of Wisconsin. And he now has some 6,900 mustards from more than 70 countries on display there. It’s one of the top attractions now, and it’s free. It also has a gift shop.

They sent us two mustards from the shop and, you know… I did not think I’d ever be a mustard enthusiast, but when I say these were two delicious mustards, I’m not lying. I actually had no idea mustards could taste so incredible. Literally sat there scooping mustard straight out of the jar and into my mouth with a teaspoon during the tasting.

Mustard #1 was East Shore Specialty Foods’ cranberry mustard—great flavor combination. But the one that really knocked my socks off was mustard #2—Slimm & Nunne’s “Sweet & Nicely Hot Mustard.” So lovely and so sweet with a nice kick at the end.

That’s right—I just wrote three paragraphs about how awesome mustard is. Barry is totes onto something. What you really need to walk away with is that it’d be one of my favorite things to do in Madison, Wisconsin. So… it should be one of yours, too. You’ll thank me later.

the national mustard museum, just one of many awesome things to do in madison wisconsin

Out & About Things To Do In Madison, Wisconsin

Swim & Paddle #AllTheLakes

Madison is on an isthmus (which is just fun to say), so it’s got direct access to two lakes—Mendota and Menona. But don’t forget about the other three in the vicinity—Kegonsa, Waubesa and Wingra. And then there’s Michigan and Superior (further out, of course). With all this water, Madison’s got it all—kayaking, cruising, boating, paddling, swimming, fishing. It has twelve beaches, y’all. Twelve.

kayaking, just one of many awesome things to do in madison wisconsin

Bike & Hike #AllTheTrails

Madison was named one of “The Best Cities On Earth For Biking” by Yahoo and actually has more bikes than cars. It’s got over 200 miles of hiking and biking trails, and even sports a bike elevator in its convention center. (I honestly didn’t know that was a thing.)

Aaallllll the hiking, biking, trails, water, parks, beaches, and overall air quality would eventually make Madison the “#1 Greenest City In America.” And, while I’ve listed these last bullets as just two things to do in Madison, Wisconsin, it’s really like 29 more things. Sky’s the limit, folks.

all the bike trails, just one of many awesome things to do in madison wisconsin

Immerse Yourself in #AllTheCulture

Concerts on the Square, Opera In The Park, Concerts on the Rooftop, and live music on the waterfront. The American Players Theatre, the Children’s Theatre, and the Madison Opera. The Symphony Orchestra, the Overture Center for the Arts, and the Sylvee. The Chamber Orchestra, the Union Theater, and Kanopy Dance. This is just a partial listing of all the different performing arts venues and groups in Madison, Wisconsin. It’s actually a little bananas how many there are.

It also touts four different art galleries—the Chazen Museum, the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, the Overture Galleries, and the Tandem Press. Plus, botanical gardens, a zoo, and its very own baseball team. Whatever your hobbies or interests, you’ll find no shortage of things to do in Madison, Wisconsin. And I promise you won’t be bored.

state capitol building

And So Many More Things To Do In Madison, Wisconsin…

Did I mention there are sixteen breweries, wineries, and distilleries in Madison? Sixteen. Seriously, there’s no possible way I can list all the cool things to do in this city. But I think I gave it a good go. And I know I, personally, don’t need much more convincing to hit up Madison the next time I’m in Wisconsin. (And I will be in Wisconsin again. It might be my spirit state.)

If you haven’t toured this part of the United States, you’re missing out. Bigly. Who’s been? What am I missing? What were your favorite things to do in Madison, Wisconsin? Tell me everything. (In the comments.)

a summertime sunset

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Cheers, Jordan