Wisconsin's capital is an intellectual center, a thriving foodie destination, and simply an appealing, relaxed, and enjoyable place to spend some time.
Madison has become on of the finest gastronomic destinations in the lower 48, offering great farmers markets, microbreweries like Karben4, and superb restaurants like Harvest or L'Etoile.
Madison is squeezed in between two beautiful lakes, where you can rent kayaks or canoes, take control of a sailing boat, or fish for northern pike or walleye until the sun sets.
Madison isn't short on museums and galleries either. Standouts include the Chazen Museum of Art, with its Dutch Masters, and the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art.
Wisconsin has a fascinating history, and you can find out all about it by taking tours of the elegant State Capitol building, with its iconic domed roof.
Madison hosts an endless parade of festivals, from the culinary delights of Taste of Madison to the WI Film Festival and the Atwood Music Festival.
Summer is the best time to visit Madison. It's festival season, the lakes are at their most inviting, and the town just feels laid-back and ready to welcome visitors.
Dane County Regional Airport (MSN) has connections to plenty of US cities. From there you can take Bus 20 into town for $2. Taxis will cost around $30.
Amtrak's Empire Builder service stops at Columbus, just a few miles north of Madison.
If you are coming from Chicago or Milwaukee, take I-90 to Madison. Those driving from the east or west can take I-80, then change in Chicago.
Bus services into Madison are provided by Greyhound, Megabus, Badger Bus, Van Galder, and Lamers.
Madison has some stunning lakefront accommodation options, and highlights include the Hilton Madison Monona Terrace Hotel and the Madison Concourse Hotel.
Capitol - Madison's downtown center, Capitol is the place to go for historical attractions and museums like the Chazen or the Madison Children's Museum and also hosts the city's huge farmers market.
Greenbush - southwest of the city center, Greenbush hosts the Henry Vilas Zoo and is also a great place to rent boats for activities on Lake Monona.
Dudgeon-Monroe - one of the safest, most affluent parts of town, Dudgeon-Monroe is home to some of Madison's finest restaurants, including Pizza Brutta and Brasserie V.
Madison's bus network covers the whole city pretty well, and with single tickets costing $2, it's a cheap way to get around.
When you take taxis in Madison, expect to pay a meter drop of $4, followed by around $3 per mile.
Local car rental outlets include Enterprise and Budget, and rates can be as low as $10 per day.
Madison has a few excellent family malls, including Hilldale and East Towne Mall, and you'll find plenty of independent stores around Capitol Square.
Supermarkets include Festival Foods and Trader Joe's, and you can expect to spend around $1.60 on 12 eggs, so it's a cheap place to shop.
There are numerous elite restaurants in town, but highlights include the Old Fashioned, a down-to-earth tavern and restaurant; L'Etoile, a gourmet modern American eatery; and Harvest Restaurant, which specializes in using Wisconsin's fresh produce. Meals prices vary, but a good meal will cost around $25 per head.