Things to Do in Madison WI in Winter

Snow Tubing is the perfect outing for those who dislike skiing or snowboarding.

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How often do you go on adventures? Or is staying at home more your style? Well, you can do something fun in the snow this winter. And given its geographical location, it is no surprise that Madison has the snowiest winters, especially between December and February.

Things to Do in Madison WI in Winter

Winter lovers will love Madison’s picturesque snowscapes, friendly people, and lovely atmosphere. Many locals here in Madison recommend visiting during the winter months. Have you tried any of these well-liked winter activities? Check them out if you haven’t yet, as they might blow your adventurous mind. This College town has it all – and offers a lot of great options, both indoors and out, to entertain y’all this winter season. Let’s look at things to do in Madison WI in winter!

Chazen Museum of Art

750 University Ave. Madison, WI 53706

The Chazen Museum of Art, spread across two buildings on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, is home to the state’s second-largest art collection. Temporary exhibitions, excursions, and cultural activities complement the permanent collections at the Chazen, which span antiquity to the present day.

The displays showcase both national and international artists on a revolving basis. Visitors can take advantage of the various group tours to further understand the museum’s collection and historical relevance.

Field of Flowers North Farm
Click on the picture to check it out

You can also try out various exciting activities, such as lectures, art-related activities, and community events, to enhance your overall experience. A great way to liven things up is to attend one of the frequent concerts at this venue. Spend an inspiring day at the Chazen Museum of Art, surrounded by magnificent artworks.

Madison Museum of Contemporary Art

227 State St. Madison, WI 53703

The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art is the best place to appreciate the value of making and talking about art. Since it houses several art galleries and sporadic live performances, film screenings, and wellness sessions, it provides the ideal setting for a wholly immersed artistic experience.

The four exhibition spaces showcase well-known and up-and-coming artists in various rotational shows. Head up to the sculpture garden on the roof for some peace and awe-inspiring scenery. The museum has a large exhibition hall where local and international artists can display their works.

You can also spend your free time doing things like taking a yoga or meditation class, going to the movies, or going to a live event like a ballet or play. Madison, Wisconsin’s world-famous Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, is a must-see for art enthusiasts any time of year, but especially during the colder months.

The Thai pavilion at Olbrich gardens

Olbrich Botanical Gardens

3330 Atwood Ave. Madison, WI 53704

You’ve got to check out Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison, Wisconsin, for its beautiful landscape and tranquil vibe. Located directly across the street from the Garver Feed Mill, the Conservatory is an excellent addition to a Saturday morning spent shopping at the Garver Farmer’s Market.

The main attractions are the Rose Garden and the Bolz Observatory, an indoor environment filled with local flora.Olbrich Park is a terrific place to go sledding with the kids. Both its size and slope make it suitable for sledding. The park’s ice skating and ice hockey rinks offer spectacular views of Madison. After dark, the area is well-lit for sledding, thanks to the streetlamps.

It’s a great choice if you’re trying to save money on your vacation, as the gardens are free to visit, and the observatory only costs a few dollars to see. A trip around this lovely park is one of the best things to do for every nature lover visiting Madison, Wisconsin.

Allen Centennial Gardens

620 Babcock Dr, Madison, WI 53706

Madison is home to the beautiful Allen Centennial Garden, which contributes to the city’s reputation as a horticulturist’s dream location. The early 20th-century garden occupies about 2 acres.

It features two distinct tour programs and a wealth of entertaining events. All year long, there are fun events to attend, benches to sit on, a gazebo with stunning views of the surrounding area, and much more.

There are two ways to see the Allen Centennial Garden: on your own or with a student guide. Public entry is free, although there is a charge for the optional guided tours. If you find yourself in Madison, Wisconsin, stop by the Allen Centennial Garden. It’s always open, morning to night.

Kids playing at the Madison Children's Museum

Madison Children’s Museum

2116, 100 N Hamilton St, Madison, WI 53703

Want to take a trip where the young ones may play safely and have a good time? If so, the Madison Children’s Museum in downtown Madison is a great place to spend the day. As they engage in the facility’s many entertaining pursuits and have a ball in its exciting indoor play areas, they won’t even notice that they are learning.

Children may learn about recycling and composting from interactive displays inside and outside the museum. There’s a craft workshop where youngsters can make arts and crafts, a maze and puzzle display, and an aviary and garden called Rooftop Ramble.

Various exciting pursuits, such as an art studio and a worldwide town called Wildernest, are available for you and your children to enjoy throughout your stay. Your family will find a wealth of fun and educational activities here.

National Mustard Museum

7477 Hubbard Ave. Middleton, WI 53562

The National Mustard Museum in Madison is the most unusual museum you’ll ever visit. The museum, which began as one man’s private collection 35 years ago, now features more than 7,000 different types of mustard.

A BOWL OF DJION MUSTARD AT THE National Mustard Museum

You won’t find a more comprehensive assortment of Wisconsin-made products, many of which feature alcohol-infused flavors, anywhere else on the earth. Between two hundred and three hundred varieties of mustard are available for purchase, and the vast majority are available for free tasting.

If you’re the type to put mustard on everything, and you happen to be in Madison, you should check this establishment out. The museum is accessible daily between 10 am and 5 pm, and admission to the museum is free. The gift shop upstairs features collections and mustard memorabilia from across the country.

Henry Vilas Zoo

702 S. Randall Ave. Madison, WI 53715

Stop by the Henry Vilas Zoo to see a real Bengal tiger in the flesh. You’ll also be able to check out some of our pals, the lemurs, some lions from Africa, some tortoises from the Galapagos, and our favorite, the capybara.

The 28-acre Henry Vilas Zoo houses around 650 animals representing 115 different species, including 20 critically endangered or at risk of extinction. Most guests like seeing the grizzly bears, polar bears, harbor seals, and the various exotic species in the Rainforest Aviary.

a polar bear at the Henry Vilas Zoo

With the Behind the Scenes Tour, you and your kids may learn about the responsibilities of a zookeeper, see unseen parts of the zoo, and have a much more enjoyable day at the zoo. Both entrances to the zoo and parking are accessible. There is an indoor restaurant, a coffee shop, and a gift shop. Find your inner savage here.

Capitol Square

The includes a terrific twist. Here, you may go on a thrilling ghost walk while alsCapitol Square excursiono learning about the history and culture of the city. Professional tour guides will show you around while telling you tales of ghostly encounters and other supernatural occurrences in the town.

State Capitol 

2 E. Main St.Madison, WI 53703

Seeing it every day is one thing, but have you ever taken a tour? The Wisconsin State Capitol is a popular destination in Madison, situated between the two beautiful lakes of Monona and Mendota. Its location in Capitol Square, a hub of Madison’s tourism industry, makes it an essential visit for anybody planning a trip to the city.

Our beautiful state capitol building

Capitol Building

The Capitol Building, built in 1917, is the city’s most recognizable landmark, standing 284 feet tall. Hand-carved furniture, glass mosaics, at least 43 different types of stone from worldwide, four wings, and a gilded bronze statue all contribute to the building’s elaborate decor.

Because of a local ordinance prohibiting buildings taller than the columns surrounding the dome, astute visitors may have noticed that this is the tallest structure in the city. As a result, the entire landscape, including the town and lakes, is visible in all its glory from the building’s viewing platform. The Capitol is one of the top free attractions in Madison.

Amazing murals, beautiful furniture, and marble from around the world await you inside. You can roam its numerous rooms, find natural fossils like starfish and coral sprinkled throughout the structure, and enjoy its many other features. Also, the Capitol Building is interesting to explore on its own merits, if only to appreciate its exquisite marble detailing.

Wisconsin Veterans Museum

30 W. Mifflin St. Madison, WI 53703

Located on Capitol Square, this nationally acclaimed museum honors the service of Wisconsin residents from the Civil War through the current day. Two Wisconsin Veterans Museum’s galleries honor the state’s military veterans from the American Civil War to the present day.

veteran's museum

In the 19th Century Gallery, you can learn about the American Civil War and other events of that era. Unique artifacts from one of our country’s oldest conflicts, including a diorama depicting the Battle of Antietam and a real Confederate cannon seized by Wisconsin soldiers, are on display.

The two World Wars, the Vietnam War, and most other recent encounters are in the 20th Century to Present Gallery. The museum features several authentic aircraft, including a Vietnam-era UH-1 Iroquois Huey helicopter that every fan of flight must see.

The venue hosts special events, such as lectures, guided tours, and trivia nights, to provide a more informative and engaging experience for its guests. The Wisconsin Historical Museum gift store is open until 9 pm if you’re in the market for a local souvenir.

Wisconsin Historical Museum

30 N. Carroll St. Madison, WI 53703

Native American and Inuit cultures, immigration, frontier life, agriculture, industry, politics, and so much more are all represented at the Wisconsin Historical Museum. This museum houses various artifacts from different indigenous cultures and displays illustrating frontier life, life-size dioramas, historical images, and more.


The Wisconsin Historical Museum in the Madison Capitol Square is a great place to visit for many reasons: it has both permanent and temporary exhibits, displays many fascinating historical items, and has a great gift shop.

While there, you can also take a lecture or view a multimedia presentation. This museum features various settings, such as a logging camp, a fur trading station, and a malted milk factory. Visit this historical museum in Madison, Wisconsin, if you’re looking for fun things that will teach you anything.

Wisconsin Union

800 Langdon St. Madison, WI 53706

Wisconsin Union’s Memorial Union and Union South are excellent places to enjoy live performances, gourmet meals, thought-provoking exhibitions, and informative talks. Students, visitors, and the general public can all participate in events held in both structures.

The Union is also in charge of running many eateries and a market in downtown Madison. The Wisconsin Union Winter Carnival is an over-80-year-old event that features winter-themed entertainment and activities suitable for the whole family.

Don’t miss out on the Union’s many dining options at Memorial Union, the freestyle skiing and snowboarding competition Rail Jam at the Memorial Union Terrace, and the Union’s inflatable version of the head, arm, and torch of the Statue of Liberty on frozen Lake Mendota.

State Street

State Street is only half a mile long, but many Madisonians consider it the city’s lifeblood. This pedestrian mall extends from Bascom Mall to the Capitol and features excellent dining, shopping, and entertainment options.

Our  State Street

There are countless unique shops, eateries, and nightlife hotspots along State Street, making it a true urbanite’s dream. Here is the best spot in Madison for people-watching and taking in the local atmosphere.

Browse the racks at Anthology and Vom Fass Casks, two of the area’s hippest indie boutiques, and warm up with a hot dog from the renowned State Street Brats. Due to the abundance of attractions, a visit to State Street might take an entire day.

Outdoor Activities

Madison is a great place to enjoy the outdoors because it is home to 15,000 acres of lakes, acres of parkland, and approximately 200 miles of trails. Madison, Wisconsin’s winters don’t have to mark the end of outdoor fun.

The changing of the Wisconsin landscape makes possible the pursuit of various winter sports, such as skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, and cross-country skiing, on local slopes, rinks, and trails.

Edgewater Hotel

1001 Wisconsin Pl. Madison, WI 53703

The Edgewater Hotel lies on the shore of a gorgeous lake and is only a short distance from the state capital. There is ice skating on the lake for tourists to enjoy throughout the winter. With its picturesque setting, the rink at The Edgewater is one of the best places for ice skaters.

It’s hard to find a better way to get into the holiday spirit than by skating on a rink decked out in holiday decorations and illuminated by twinkling lights. If you’d like your fire pit to warm up on those chilly winter evenings, you can also do so!

Edgewater Hotel

The Edgewater is the most adaptable and desired site for events of any scale, thanks to its combination of the original hotel’s maintained façade with brand-new interiors, restaurants, and a one-acre public plaza.

Elver Park

1250 McKenna Blvd, Madison, WI 53719

You and the kids are in the beautiful city of Madison, and you’re at a loss for things to do. Wow, it’s a perfect day to enjoy Elver Park outside. Elver Park is great in the summer for its wooded paths and fantastic disc golf course, but it’s much more exciting in the winter!

You can participate in any of Madison’s winter activities at Elver Park. Winter is a great time to enjoy sports like sledding, cross-country skiing, ice skating, and snowshoeing. In the winter, Elver Park is a fantastic location for ice skating, sledding, and cross-country skiing (permit required).

Visitors are welcome to rent ice skating and sledding equipment from the venue at no cost. Visitors to Elver Park will appreciate the convenience of the park’s proximity to public restrooms, as the park is directly adjacent to these facilities.

Winter Sports

Wisconsin is a frigid state, and Madison, the capital city of Wisconsin, is no exception. Because of the cold weather and abundance of snow, there are many fun and safe winter activities for the whole family. Even if it’s cold outside, people in Madison still know how to have a good time.

Madison’s residents can still enjoy various Elver Park is a great place to enjoy outdoor sports thanks to the city’s stunning natural features, including frozen lakes, snowy hills, and gorgeous vistas. You can ice skate and cross-country ski, and there is lighting if you want to go out at night.

Ice Skating

Ice skating is a great way to get into the holiday spirit whether you’re a seasoned skater or have never put on skates. There are ice skate rentals and food and drink vendors at Elver Park. You can even take ice skating classes with a large group!

Skating is free; however, there are charges for shoe rentals. In the later winter months, there are also free ice skating activities. In Elver Park, putting on your skates and heading out on the ice is a fun way to spend the day with loved ones and a terrific form of exercise.

Sledding Hills (Lighted)

Not only does Elver Park include a terrifyingly steep sledding hill, but it’s also an unforgettable experience to ride your sled across the snow beneath the park’s dazzling Christmas lights. A designated sledding area at Elver Park is suitable for children.

After dusk, up until the park’s 10 p.m. closing hour, the hill is aglow with lights. Two buildings provide facilities and ice skate rentals during specified times. Additionally, this area has a warming house with refreshments and hot chocolate.

Snow Tubing is the perfect outing for those who dislike skiing or snowboarding.

Snow Tubing

Snow Tubing is the perfect outing for those who dislike skiing or snowboarding. From about the middle of December until the beginning of March, the area’s various snow tubing trails and enormous snowshoeing and skating regions are at their best.

Safe and enjoyable conditions exist for all skill levels. If you’re looking for a family-friendly winter activity in Madison, snow tubing at Elver Park is a must. You can rest assured that the gear you hire here is of the highest quality and will allow you to immerse yourself fully in your outdoor experience.

Cross-Country Skiing (West Trails Lighted)

Elver Park is an excellent site for cross-country skiing in the Madison, Wisconsin, area since it has a variety of trails, from short loops to long, interconnected loops. Various tracks are suitable for skiers of all ages and levels of experience. The routes are well-lit and well-groomed.

Dogs are welcome as long as they are kept on a leash. The walkways here are open every day of the week so that you can mix training with leisure. They rent skis and snowboards if you forget yours. Elver Park is an excellent place to cross-country ski in the Midwest in winter.

Cross-country ski sites that charge a fee groom their trails more frequently

Permit Required for All Trails

You can buy a ski pass online or over the phone to ski at Elver Park. Madison Parks’ accessible ski trails receive little grooming. Cross-country ski sites that charge a fee groom their trails more frequently (three to four times a week or more often if conditions warrant) and require a permit.

Tenney Park

1414 E. Johnson St.Madison, WI 53704

Fun fact – part of the land for this great Madison park was donated to the city of Madison by my husband’s family – the Gays were huge Madison developers over 100 years ago!

Tenney Park is a picture-perfect place to enjoy the winter. There is a lagoon that goes all the way around the park. The lagoon freezes throughout the winter, transforming into one of Wisconsin’s best natural ice skating rinks.

Wisconsin families ice skate at Tenney Park yearly; you should, too. Regardless of the skating experience, everyone enjoys the rink. A warming hut with restrooms and snacks is also available. If you’re freezing, go inside to warm up and rent stuff.

Wisconsin families ice skate at Tenney Park yearly; you should, too. Regardless of the skating experience, everyone enjoys the rink.

There are typically figure skates, hockey skates, and hockey sticks for sale. Nearby is a skate store that offers repairs and maintenance. Winter-themed events are also available. Suppose you want tranquility; head to the ice early on lovely days. The park’s toilets and food and drink stalls are accessible to all guests.

Vilas Park

1602 Vilas Park Dr. Madison, WI 53715

Vilas Park winds around the northern coast of Lake Wingra and features ice skating in the winter on both the lagoon and rinks. At Vilas Park, you may go ice skating on the lagoon or play hockey on one of two rinks—one equipped with boards, goals, and lights.

In addition, there is a warming shelter in the park that is only available at certain times of the year. Additionally, the shelter rents out skates and sells food. There are snowshoes for hire in Vilas Park, making it a fun sport for kids of all ages.

Garner Park

333 S. Rosa Rd.Madison, WI 53705

The park’s natural and social settings complement each other in exciting ways. The vast majority of its 42 acres overlook the illustrious Garner Shelter. During winter, locals can use the park’s ice skating rinks. Beautiful in the winter for snowshoeing, this park is also home to the Madison Mallards baseball team.

Visitors can schedule private events like picnics and parties at this one-of-a-kind venue. Surprisingly, Garner Park’s social and natural settings balance one another. Due to its year-round appeal, this park is enjoyable to visit at any time of the year.

Beautiful in the winter for snowshoeing, this park is also home to the Madison Mallards baseball team.

James Madison Park

614 E. Gorham St.Madison, WI 53703

People who need mental and physical renewal are ideal visitors to James Madison Park. Many people, including students and locals, frequent the basketball, volleyball, and playground. Skate in the park while the cold weather lasts.

This rink not only has heating for those winter months but is also routinely maintained so that it remains in excellent condition. Go for a stroll in the park and take in the stunning views of Lake Mendota. In addition to that, it’s a beautiful place to watch the sunset.

Things to do in Winter in Madison WI

Final Thoughts

Because there is such a wide variety of things to see and do in Madison during the winter, the city is an exceptional destination for winter vacations or that Wisconsin winter getaway. Visitors can enjoy things in Madison during this time of year, including winter sports, massive holiday trees, winter festivals, and treks by candlelight.

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