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Trip Planner USA  /  Wisconsin  /  Madison
(4.1/5 based on 7,500+ reviews for top 30 attractions)
Things to do: sightseeing, parks, zoos & aquariums

The City of Four Lakes

Madison might be the capital of Wisconsin, but students rather than politicians give the city its identity. The city of over 240,000 boasts a major university and, as such, it features a wealth of cafes, bookstores, brewpubs, and the most restaurants per capita in the U.S. With more than 250 parks occupying the area and four in-city lakes dominating the topography, a wealth of natural attractions complements the diverse entertainment options. Downtown you'll find a host of locally owned shops, sidewalk cafes, and coffeehouses, and a space where street performers operate when the weather's agreeable. These features have drawn more than just students to Madison; they’ve resulted in a vibrant community of musicians, artists, professionals, and families with a strong sense of community that fits in nicely with the city's tradition of education. Take stress off the schedule by using our United States tour planner.
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Where to stay

The university and state politics draw a constant stream of visitors to Madison, so you'll find a wide range of accommodations in the city. Numerous hotels circle the campus, and some of these overlook Lake Mendota. Moving onto the isthmus between Lake Mendota and Lake Monona, you'll find a handful of charming inns and bed and breakfasts, most of which offer panoramic views of the water. Areas south of Lake Monona feature national chain hotels and motels. These sit farther away from the action around campus and the State Capitol Building, but they can also offer water views and quiet settings near some of Madison's many parks.
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