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Things to do in downtown Madison, WI

Searching for convenience, easy access, and affordability? Then don’t wait any longer to discover one of our amazing communities, River’s Edge or Fordem Towers. Each community offers what you’ve been longing for.

Downtown living comes with an amazing share of perks, and our communities are just east of everything downtown Madison has to offer! Dining, entertainment, shopping, recreation, and much more are all within your reach at our apartments for rent in Madison, WI. No matter where you’re going, or how you’re planning on getting there, you’ll enjoy convenient access to it all every day at River’s Edge or Fordem Towers.


Top 5 Things To Do In Madison

1. Chazen Museum of Art

Need something to do? if you want to see a range of artwork across a variety of regions then look no further than the Chazen Museum of Art. Here you can expect to find painting, drawings, sculpture, print work, and cool photography. As well as some American artwork there is also some strong dedication to the European art inside the Chazen Museum, and there are also some rotating exhibits that showcase works from around the region and more. Guided tours are available so that you can learn all about the history of the art, and there is even a music program for fans so make sure you check out all the local listings for times to see if you can catch one of the concerts when you have time.

800 University Ave
Madison, WI 53706
(608) 263-2246


2. Olbrich Botanical Gardens

Located just on the scenic waterfront of Madison, the Botanical Gardens is one of the most serene and beautiful parts of the city. The gardens bloom year-round with all types of seasonal plants. One of the signature features you will see at the gardens are the roses that are homegrown, as well as the Bolz Conservatory that is an indoor area featuring a range of pretty foliage. This place is more than flowers, there are also some great architectural features in the park to check out such as the Sala which is a pavilion that was once given to the gardens by the Thailand government and is carved in this ornate Thai-style will give you a taste of being in Asia but in Madison.

3330 Atwood Ave
Madison, WI 53704
(608) 246-4550


3. Wisconsin Historical Museum

Bringing Wisconsin's history to life through exhibits on the material culture of the state and the Upper Midwest, from prehistoric times to the present day. 

The Wisconsin Historical Museum contains four floors of permanent and rotating exhibits, an orientation theater, and a museum store. Exhibits and programs document Wisconsin's history from prehistoric times to the present day, focusing on: the Prehistoric history and Wisconsin's settlement, Agricultural history, industry and tourism, and the Political and environmental history

The museum also supervises the preservation and development of artifact collections and operates an archaeology program under a cooperative agreement with the Department of Transportation and the Department of Natural Resources.

30 N Carroll St
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 264-6555


4. Monona Terrace

Monona Terrace was actually the brainchild of celebrated architect Frank Lloyd Wright, although he never saw it completed. The spectacular building was only built in 1997 using Wright’s designs and it is instantly recognizable thanks to its glass facade that was also a signature feature of Wright’s work. You can take a tour of the building or you can enjoy the rooftop terrace here that offers stunning views over the downtown area of Maison and also stretches to Lake Monona.

1 John Nolen Dr
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 261-4000


5. The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art

The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art exhibits collects and preserves modern and contemporary art to educate and inspire the community to take an interest in art. The museum is housed in a new facility at the Overture Center for the Arts that was designed by world-renowned architect Cesar Pelli and boasts over 50,000 square feet of exhibition space and a beautiful rooftop sculpture garden.

The museum's collection spans the 20th and 21st centuries and includes works by Frida Kahlo, John Steuart Curry, and Diego Rivera. The main galleries of the museum host major exhibitions, while the sculpture garden features rotating exhibits in a stunning garden setting. The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art is one of the best things to do in Madison, Wisconsin. It also features a 230-seat lecture hall, a new-media gallery, and a modern study center.

227 State St
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 257-0158


Places to eat near the overture center in Madison, WI

The Old Fashioned 

The Old Fashioned serves both lunch and dinner. Start off with the Haystack Onion Rings or Cheese Curds. For mains, they serve salads, sandwiches, soups, and more. We recommend trying the Salmon Salad, The Old Fashioned House Burger, or the Bacon Mac & Cheese. Try out something new each time you come. Whatever you get you are sure to enjoy. 

23 N Pinckney St 
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 310-4545



Heritage Tavern

James Beard semifinalist chef Dan Fox helms this modern-day tavern, where he and his team emphasize seasonality and total product utilization (after all, he raises his own heritage breed hogs). Thankfully, that approach carries into the wee hours, when you can slip into any of the antique bar’s 19 seats for a glimpse of the open kitchen and a taste of tempura-fried bacon-wrapped cheese curds or a dry-aged beef burger stuffed with Hook’s white Cheddar. Don't sleep on the cocktails either -- The Ancho & Leftie, with chili liqueur and black pepper-infused mezcal, is a perfectly spicy and smoky take on the traditional margarita.

131 E Mifflin St
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 283-9500



Osteria Papavero

A native of Bologna, Italy, chef Francesco Mangano spent his summers on the Tuscany Coast, where he learned the fundamentals of Italian cooking from a team of pros (i.e., his grandmother and uncles). That nonna know-how has earned his spot a loyal following over the years, but its from-scratch mentality, dedication to high-quality ingredients, and knack for honing in on hyper-authentic flavors and technique haven't hurt either. Taste those practices for yourself in plates like corn tagliatelle with house-made Calabrian sausage and San Marzano tomatoes, beef and pork Bolognese ragout, and wild mushroom risotto.

128 E Wilson St
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 255-8376



Inspired by the American Craft Movement, the team at this restaurant calls upon those who take theirs seriously, from local farmers and bakers to cheesemakers and distillers. This bounty is worth experiencing at any time of day, but especially at happy hour on weekdays from 3 to 6 pm -- when all drinks are 20 percent off. That's great news for cocktail lovers as there are over 100 on the menu. It also leaves money leftover for pairings like the Merchant steak burger, Ploughman’s board, and the venue’s notorious cheese curds (beer-battered and served either classic or buffalo-style).

121 S Pinckney St
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 259-9799


Eno Vino Downtown

Perched on the 10th floor of the recently opened AC Hotel Madison Downtown, this restaurant draws well-heeled crowds on the nightly for show-stopping views of the Capitol Building alongside one of the city’s best wine lists. Over 40 wines by the glass and 350 by the bottle are available and span the globe from France, Spain, Italy, and beyond. The crowd-pleasing small plates are just as internationally inspired: Lamb meatballs are accompanied by romesco sauce and toasted ciabatta, tuna poke meets pineapple sweet & sour sauce and wonton, and foie gras two ways shares a plate with blackberry coulis and cranberries.

1 N Webster St
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 455-0663



Schools in Madison, WI

Madison Metropolitan School District
(608) 663-1879