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Top 10 Free Things to do in Madison, Wisconsin!
Wisconsin may be best known for its cheese and beer, but there’s plenty of free fun to be had in Madison this summer! You’ll find something for everyone on this list of free things to do, from outdoor markets and concerts to playgrounds and hiking trails. Pack a picnic lunch and get ready to enjoy some beautiful Wisconsin summer weather!
For The Outdoor Lover
1. Olbrich Botanical Gardens
Olbrich’s outdoor gardens are 100% free daily, and there are hundreds of yards of beautiful nature! My favorite part is the Thai Pavillion! It’s simply stunning and a place I could sit and read for hours! The gardens are beautiful year-round!
Head on inside for an instant vacation to the tropics! With a small admission fee of $6 per person and free for kids! OR Free admission on Wednesday and Saturday mornings (10 a.m. – Noon)
2. UW Arboretum
These are beautifully planned grounds with never-ending trails with almost every tree, flower, and bush species! This would be a beautiful place for a picnic for lunch or dinner! Every time I am there, I see something different!
3. Hiking or Biking
For the Music Lover
4. Concerts on the Square
Pack a picnic or grab an already made one from Fromagination, then grab your favorite blanket on the Capitol Grounds with your favorite people! Check out the schedule here if you are in the area on a Wednesday!
5. Taste of Madison
Even though this is the kick-off to the end of Summer, the event itself is free, and there is music! You don’t need to spend money if you don’t want to. Taste of Madison happens the first weekend of September!
6. Farmers Market on the Square
No matter how long you are in the area, this is an excellent place to pick up some snacks, food for dinner, or food to take home! Make sure to get here early, grab a doughnut along the way and take a break on the grass!
7. Memorial Terrace
The Terrace was a staple before we moved to Madison! We liked to sit by the water with a pitcher of beer and a hot dog! They even have ice cream! The best place in the city to see the sunset! Just be prepared to search for a table or seat; they fill up quickly!
It is also a great place to rent outdoor gear like paddleboards to get out on the water! You can even jump off the dock and swim if you want!
And yes, it is pet friendly; if you love dogs, you’ll see a lot of them! If your dog is not good around large crowds or dogs, I highly recommend that you DO NOT BRING THEM!
Arts & History
8. Veterans Museum
The veteran’s museum is a stunning walk-through of history, especially where Wisconsin stood during our country’s history! They also have travel exhibits that change frequently! Great for all ages!
9. Modern Museum of Contemporary Art
MMoCA is not only a BEAUTIFUL museum, and it has stunning exhibits year-round! Also, the rooftop has a beautiful view of the city and the capital!
10. State Capital Building
I freaking love the Wisconsin State Capital building, the architecture is fantastic, and they have a free self-guided tour!
11. Henry Villa Zoo
Everyone loves animals, and as Henry Villa Zoo is donation ran, I highly suggest donating on your way in or out! Your whole family will love this fantastic place! And close by are delicious food options!