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The city of badgers, Madison, is one of the prettiest and most calm cities in the state of Wisconsin, with friendly people and a rich and diverse diaspora.
The capital of Wisconsin, this city is also the seat or administrative center for Dane County and the second-largest city in Wisconsin. The city is named after President James Madison who died in the city in 1836.
Madison city is a part (and the biggest portion) of the larger Madison Metropolitan Area which is composed of Madison city, Dane County, and neighboring counties including Green County, Columbia County, and Iowa County. The city has an extensive and extremely well-connected public transport system. The official bird of Madison is the plastic pink flamingo.
Named after the American Founding Father and the fourth President of America, James Madison, the city is located on Native American land belonging to the Ho-Chunk tribe. Being situated on an isthmus surrounded by four lakes, Madison was referred to as Taychopera (which means land of four lakes) and Dejope (which means four lakes) in the traditional Ho-Chunk language. While it is famous for a lot of things, the primary among them would have to be the University of Wisconsin. While more campuses of the university are situated in other cities like Milwaukee and White Water, the Madison Wisconsin campus stands at the top.
Planning a trip to Madison for visiting the Capitol Building and Capitol Dome? Then do read these facts about Madison and afterward, also check Wisconsin history facts and fun facts about Wisconsin.
Thinking of what Madison is known for doesn’t take long, however, there is not just one thing that can be pinpointed because it is known for so many things. Whether it is signature food and drinks native to Madison, places to visit, iconic landmarks, or unique things around the city, Madison has a lot to offer. So here are some top picks:
Wisconsin Capitol: The Wisconsin Capitol is a beautiful dome-shaped building, located in Madison at the isthmus of Lake Mendota and Lake Monona. The Capitol is one of the iconic landmarks of Madison and houses both the Wisconsin Legislature, which creates the state law, as well as the Supreme Court of Wisconsin. Its current building is the third construction of the Wisconsin Capitol and is known as the Capitol Square. In 1937, the Capitol Dome was decorated with a giant 'W' during football season.
The University of Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin in Madison is one of the top public schools in the country. With 60% of Madison’s urban core having university degrees and hosting a huge number of international students, the impact of this university is so high that it has one of the best per capita education ratios in the US, and the population ranks amongst the top in terms of book readers. Yes, you read that right, Madisonites love reading books.
Bucky the Badger: The university and city mascot, Bucky the Badger, is one of the things Madison is most associated with. His full name is Buckingham Ulysses 'Bucky' Badger and you can witness him in all his glory at every single sporting event. Bucky has been a member of the Mascot’s Hall of Fame since 2006, and interestingly enough, his name was selected through a competition where people could submit entries of possible names.
The Memorial Union Terrace: It cannot be stated enough that The Memorial Union Terrace will be your favorite place to be during the entire summer season. Summers in Madison are precious because winter lasts quite a long time and is pretty harsh. Madisonites like to spend time outdoors as much as possible, and the best place to do it is by the lake, at the terrace. Chill out with friends or family, order locally made beers, ice cream, and perhaps some Bratwurst, and see the beautiful sunset while listening to local live bands or dancers performing in front of you.
Cheeseheads: Madison people are called cheeseheads, but when in Madison, it is not the jibe that it sounds like. Wisconsin is known for producing cheese used all over the US. Safe to say, Wisconsinites themselves consume a lot of it. One of the favorite bar snacks for Madisonites is cheese curds, which you would not be able to easily find (if at all) anywhere else in the US. Wisconsin residents love their cheese, and hence, are called cheeseheads.
State Street: Located in downtown Madison, State Street is one of the most happening places in the city. Constantly busy, this is the place where a lot of stuff happens. During the day you can see food carts lined up, ready to feed hungry students from all over the campus. At night, this is the place where many restaurants, bars, and theaters are located to provide entertainment. Sometimes, night markets are also organized which are also set up at State Street.
Jump Around!: Whether it is the beginning of the football season or your graduation day, no major Madison celebration is complete without having people grooving and jumping to the tunes of Jump Around. It is basically an anthem at this point.
Among its various nicknames, Mad Town, Athens of the Midwest, City of Four lakes, People’s Republic of Madison, and many more, Mad City perhaps has the most interesting history. If you try to find a great historical story or reason behind it, you'll come up empty-handed, however.
The nickname Mad City came to exist some 45 years back when design student James McKiernan created an art piece to be printed on T-shirts. This design had the phrase Mad City, and boy did it sell like hotcakes at the college football game between the Wisconsin Badgers and the Cornhuskers. Earning him some 100 dollars, this design was described as the best thing he could have thought of by McKiernan, and years later, this phrase has been trademarked by Madison Top Company, which was also established by McKiernan.
There are so many things to do in Madison that you can never get bored. Apart from the general touristy things that we will discuss further, it must also be noted that the University of Wisconsin has several provisions like workshops and classes to keep everyone entertained.
Just because it is organized by the university, doesn’t mean outsiders cannot join in. Here are some activities to do and places to enjoy in Madison:
Henry Vilas Zoo: A must-visit place, the Henry Vilas Zoo has so many animals and unique species that tourists just absolutely cannot miss. Polar bears, pink flamingos, and penguins are just some of the many exotic animals that you can see here. What's more is their unique habitats, created to ensure maximum comfort to these animals. Pink flamingos are an essential part of this city, as the city bird themselves are pink plastic flamingos.
The Arboretum: The Madison Arboretum is a great place for a hike. Containing hundreds of species of plants and trees, this beautiful place is sure to leave you feeling wonderful. Speaking of hiking trails, there is also a beautiful hiking trail and bicycle path along Lake Mendota which gives you a view of the lovely lake and leaves you refreshed.
Wisconsin Union Theatre: Located in the Union South in downtown Madison, the Wisconsin Union Theatre is a great place to enjoy a movie at any time of day. Being located on campus, it serves as an amazing little theatre for the student population as well. Attend the Wisconsin Film Festival as well if you get a chance.
Wisconsin Union activities: The Wisconsin Union is constantly buzzing with activities for people of all ages. Whether it is dancing classes, playing some instrument, learning a new art form, cooking classes, glass blowing, seasonal activities like pumpkin carving, Christmas competitions, face painting, a silent disco, badge making, floral arrangements, and something else, the Union has activities for all. Even the beginning of the football season each year starts at the Union South with a huge crowd of people, and fun games for the attendees, free food, and lots of freebies.
Drink locally brewed beer: Offering a range of local beers, Madison is covering all bases when it comes to entertainment and hospitality.
For tourists looking for hotel accommodation, there are various hotel options available in Madison depending on your range. There are high-end hotels as well as mid-range ones and low-cost motels.
Best Western: Located close to downtown Madison, this Best Western is the perfect location for those wanting to stay close to campus and all major entertainment sources while still not being in the midst of all the hustle and bustle of the town.
Hilton DoubleTree: If you are looking to stay in the heart of downtown Madison, there are several options available, one of them being DoubleTree by Hilton. This chain hotel needs no introduction, and as everyone knows, is a great place to enjoy your stay.
The Graduate Madison: Located in downtown Madison, close to State Street and the Memorial Union Terrace, the Graduate Madison is near many restaurants and bars. This is a place where you will witness the hustle and bustle of the city in the best way.
Tourism in Madison is at an all-time high. This can be largely attributed to the growing number of international students studying at the University of Wisconsin. With new students, their families find a way to visit this beautiful city. Moreover, a visit to Wisconsin's oldest city, Green Bay is also a must.
Apart from international tourists, the city also sees a number of domestic tourists. Owing to growing tourism, Madison is also now hosting some famous celebrities, with them approaching Madison to do performances, especially in the Overture Centre for the Arts. Celebrities like world-famous poet Rupi Kaur have performed here.
Additionally, the various tourist hotspots spread out through the town are major tourist attractions. A large part of domestic tourism is also evidenced during college football games. The Madison Badgers, who were at one time no more than a joke, are now one of the best college football teams in the country, with epic matches that attract a lot of tourists from neighboring towns.
Be it the Madison Theatre Guild or the Wisconsin Union Theater, there is no lack of options for you to enjoy city life in Madison. Here are some amazing experiences you must have in the city:
Orton Park Festival: A constant of Madison, the Orton Park Festival is the largest outdoor music festival in Madison. This free-to-enter music festival is known for its amazing music, variety of vendors available to meet your every craving, and an aerial trapeze performance. It is sponsored by the MNA. It hosts a lot of tourists each year as well.
Annual Block Party: The annual Mifflin Street Block Party, as the name suggests, takes place every year on Mifflin Street, in downtown Madison. Starting in 1969, this party takes place on the last Saturday of April every year. What began as a protest, has now become a socializing event, attracting students who have just finished exams.
The Capitol Theater: Located in the Overture Centre for the Arts, it is one of the oldest theatres in the city. Starting in 1928, it was made a part of the Madison Civic Centre in 1980.
Historic Places like the Historic Barrymore Theatre located near Capitol Square and the Wisconsin Veterans Museum are great places to learn about the history of this town.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for 49 Fun facts about Madison Wisconsin: You may not know! then why not take a look at city quotes, or Guatemala city facts?
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