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Things to do in Madison

  • Wisconsin State Capitol Wisconsin State Capitol Madison, Wisconsin
    The state capitol building in Madison, Wisconsin holds both houses of the congress and the Supreme Court; as well as the Office of the Governor and was built in 1917.  This impressive structure is the fifth one to be the capitol building since the territorial legislature met in 1836, and is also the third since it became a state in 1848.  The streets around the capitol building are full of restaurants, boutiques and shops, and they form the Capitol Square.  The first building was a prefab made of wood and was sent here from Belmont, Wisconsin; with no water or heating systems.  The legislatures met here for 42 days until they chose Madison as the new capitol; and would meet in Burlington, Iowa until the capitol was completed.  This old council house and the lodging facility next to it still exist and are taken care of by the Wisconsin Historical Society and it is called the First Capitol Historic Site.  The next one was built in 1837 in the city of Madison and stone from Maple Bluff was used, as well as locally cut oak.  It was constructed on the site of the present building, but smaller and more typical of the capitol buildings of other states.  The cost was $60,000.  The third was built because the second was too small and was also built on the present site, between 1857 and 1869, and is similar to the U. S. capitol with dome.  Two wings added to the north and south costing $900,000, were added in 1882; but in 1903, the state's new commission started thinking about another structure.  February 26, 1904, a gas jet started a fire in the recently varnished ceiling of the third building; and although there was a modern fire system, the nearby university reservoir was empty.  The fire spread fast and the local firemen couldn't handle the blazing inferno so more men and equipment was brought in from Milwaukee.  The night was such a cold one that the equipment had frozen and thus needed to be thawed before any help could be given and subsequently the only part of the old capitol that wasn't destroyed was the north wing.  Historical artifacts, books and records were lost, but the law library books were saved thanks to the students from the university.  This fire happened five weeks after the state legislature had decided that fire insurance was no longer needed.  The new building was started in 1906 and finished in 1907 and cost $7.25 million.  Since office space was needed immediately, construction took longer than expected, but one wing at a time was built.  It stands 284 feet and 5 inches from the ground to the top of the statue that stands on the dome, making it 3 feet shorter than the U.S. capitol in Washington D. C.  The dome's statue was created by Daniel Chester French of New York, in 1920, and is called Wisconsin with her left hand holding a globe with eagle atop it and her right arm pointing out symbolizing the motto of the state, "forward".  It wears a helmet with the state's animal, a badger, on top and is made of hollow bronze with gold leaf covering.  The statue is 15 feet, 5 inches tall and is called Wisconsin, although many have confused her with another statue on the ground called Forward; and she weights 3 tons.  This magnificent building used 43 different types of stone that came from 8 states and 6 countries.  The outside is made of Bethel white granite from Vermont, which make the dome the biggest in the world made of granite; with other Wisconsin granites used in the public hallways, of the first, second and ground floors.  The inside is made from marble, especially  in the rotunda area, and the marble comes from France, Algeria, Italy and Greece, with red granite from Waupaca, Wisconsin, Norwegian syenite, and Minnesota limestone.  The marvelous structure was named a National Historic Landmark in 2001 and a law was passed in 1990 stating that no buildings within a mile could be taller. 

  • Henry Vilas Zoo
    This zoo gets over a half a million visitors each year and doesn't charge parking or admission fees; and is one of the small amount of zoos that are free and accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.  The city had a donation of 50 acres in 1904 from the William and Anna Vilas family under the stipulation that it would be used for pleasure and public park grounds.  It also said that the park would be named after their son Henry who died of diabetes complications and free to enter.  An area of 28 acres had been set aside for an animal exhibit in 1911; which started the zoo; and the Madison Zoological and Aquarium Society was started in 1914.  It was renamed the Henry Vilas Zoological Society in 1926, and in 1964 became a non-profit corporation.  With the 100th anniversary of the zoo coming soon, the society started a zoo century campaign to raised $27 million to refurbish the zoo over the following 10 years.  They want the redo to make sure that the zoo has the best possible care and exhibits for the next century.  The zoo is divided into 7 separate divisions that include; insects, birds, reptiles, mammals, fish, amphibians and primates.  In the primates area they have an orangutan, ring-tailed lemur, colobus monkey, chimpanzee, white-handed gibbon and cotton topped tamarin.  In the fish tank are piranhas, knifefish, spotted pimelodus, oscar, plecostomus, freshwater stingray and convict cichlid.  The mammals contain; subdivisions relating to North and South America, the Australian outback, the African safari, Asia, the Arctic, New Children's Zoo exhibit and the North American prairie exhibit.  In the North America exhibit; the grizzly bear, river otter, and black bear.  From South America come the; capybara and alpaca.  In the Australian outback area they have a red kangaroo.  Mammals from Africa include; the lion, white rhinoceros,  and reticulated giraffe.  From the North American prairie comes the badger, prairie dog and buffalo.  From the arctic comes the polar bear, and the harbor seal.  From the new children's zoo is the wallaby, the red panda, meerkats, goats and porcupine.  The Asian animals are Malayan tapir, tiger, muntjac and bactrian camel.  Reptiles include; gila monster, alligator, anaconda, green tree python, cooks tree boa, and Honduran milksnake.  Amphibians include; marine toad, tree frog and poison arrow frog.  Birds are flamingos, penguins, rhea, ostrich, emu, black swan, peacock, wild turkey, macaw and great horned owl. 

  • Ice Age National Scenic Trail
    This trail is part of the National Park Service National Scenic Trail System and is the end of the glacial extension of the last ice age that started receding some 12-15,000 years ago.  The trail winds through the state beginning at Potawatomi State Park in Door County and goes south into the Kettle Moraines and on to Janesville, heading north past the western edge of Madison into Devil's Lake State Park and northward to Langlade County.  After that it heads west through the northern forests to the Interstate State Park, then onto the St Croix National Scenic Riverway.  Over a thousand miles of trails are expected to be included when finished, but now only about 600 miles are done.  Besides hiking and camping on the trail, you can swim, boat, climb, snowmobile, fish, cross country ski and bird watch in this magnificent country.  It is open all year long, except for some areas that are open to deer hunting in November, with lakes, ponds, valleys, ridges, mountains, falls and other geological phenomena that will take your breath away.  It is an area that is pristinely genuine and will let you wander through time, imagining what the first natives felt like traversing this beautiful land.  The forests are full and incredible, with trails running through the expansive unchanged areas where you can breath in clear clean crisp air that you can't find in many states anymore.  You will thrill to the many sights and sounds that you will come across on your journey through this wilderness that was once home to Indians and settlers from centuries ago.  It is rugged terrain that will test your skills of endurance and persistence.  A place where the solitude and serenity will invade your mind and let it be cleansed of the many visions of a society that trashes the land, scraping off all the trees, grasses and other impediments to development and industrialization.  Enjoy it while you can and while it is still gorgeous.

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  • Chazen Museum of ArtChazen Museum of Art Madison, Wisconsin
    The Chazen museum is found on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Madison, Wisconsin and was formerly known as the Elvehjem Museum of Art.  The museum was renamed in 2005, after Jerome Chazen, a graduate of the university and a co-founder of Liz Claiborne.  The year of the renaming, he and his wife, Simona gave $20 million to expand the museum and that won't be done until 2011.  The collection includes such great European painters as Max Luce, Barnaba da Modena, Eugene Boudin, Andrea Vanni, Thomas Gainsborough, Giorgio Vasari, Benjamin Williams Leader and Hubert Robert.  There is an excellent collection of John Steuart Curry and Russians Georgy Ionin and Klavdy Vasiliyevich Lebedev.  Their chamber concerts have been broadcast by the Wisconsin Public Radio for many decades and have become known as the Sunday Afternoon from the Chazen.  In the collection known as paintings, there are sub categories that include; European from 1300-1600 that holds 17 exquisite works of that period; Joseph E. Davies, who was an ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1936 to 1938 and collected many works that are here; European from 1600-1800 which includes 75 paintings; American/European from the 19th century and has 29 paintings that include a portrait by Gilbert Stuart, Hudson River Valley scene by William Louis Sonntag, boating party intimate scene by Albert Bierstadt and beautiful oil sketch by Sanford Robinson Gifford; American/European 20th century works with over 400 paintings and 186 by American painters; and the Hollaender Collection from Alexander Hollaender with sculptures, paper works and paintings.  

  •  Madison Geology Museum
    The University of Wisconsin-Madison geology museum is also a paleontology museum that sits on the campus of this great university and the main mission to show exhibits, reach out to the public and continue its research into these sciences.  It was started in the 19th century, and for a long time was included in the earth science departments at Science Hall before moving into Weeks Hall in 1981.  There are over a thousand items showcased with 66 exhibits that are set on 3000 square feet of space; with most of it devoted to minerals and rocks; invertebrate, fish and vertebrate fossils.  You will also find cases of fossil plants, meteorites and glaciers.  There is a big fragment of the Canyon Diablo meteorite that created the Meteor Crater in Arizona and many small meteorites, stony and metallic, that fell into the state.  Some of the incredible rocks that can be found here include; the mineral kermesite an excellent example from the collection of F. John Barlow; two glacial erratic pieces of copper that weigh a few hundred pounds each; 85 minerals from the Grenier donation; a replicated model of a limestone cave with sound effects and a blacklight room that brings out the lumination of fluorescence and phosphorescence rocks.  In the fossils collection, there are stromatolites from the Ordovician of southwestern Wisconsin; shells of the giant cephalopod Endoceras from Wisconsin; animals from the Burgess Shale that include the hyolith Haplophrentis and the chordate Pikaia and fragments of the stem-arthropod Anomalocaris; skeletons from the Cretaceous Niobrara chalk of Kansas that are; a suspended replica of the pterosaur Pteranodon; Hesperomis that was a swimming bird with teeth; a fine preserved slab of a floating colony of the sea lily Uintacrinus and an almost complete skeleton of the mosasaur Platycarpus, suspended from the ceiling.  Vertebrate skeletons that have come here from other places include; the Permian reptile Captorhinus; the Boaz mastodon, a Pleistocene relative of the elephants found in 1897 on a farm in southwestern Wisconsin near the village of Boaz and the full skeleton of the duck-billed dinosaur Edmontosaurus, which was the first dinosaur to be shown in the state.

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Local Restaurants in Madison
  • The Harvest Restaurant
    Their menu continuously changes to reflect the wonderful variety of foods from the local and organic farmers that live in this region, and has been named one of the best 20 restaurants in the nation by Organic Style magazine.  Just recently it was named one of the country's best farm-to-table restaurants by Gourmet Magazine.  The first course offers; seared sea scallops with zucchini almond broth; slow roasted beets with toasted hazelnuts and ricotta dressing; grilled marinated squid with spicy olive tapenade, garbanzos and frisee; steamed Manila clams, chorizo, crostini and aioli; sopa de Ajo-white gazpacho with fresh harmony valley garlic, almond and salted grapes and salad of field greens with herbs, winter veggies, sherry walnut vinaigrette.  The main course includes; 10 ounce Wisconsin grass fed beef coop NY strip with roasted fingerling potatoes, Swiss chard and porcini mustard; housemade Cavatelli pasta with basil pesto, green beans and potatoes; Lange Family Farms pork Milanese with arugula, fennel and black olive; housemade Tagliatelle pasta with pork sausage, arugula, garlic and chili flake; porcini salt rubbed Angus tenderloin with roasted fingerling potatoes, Swiss chard and porcini mustard; braised Alaskan halibut with chive pesto and oyster mushrooms; roasted Arctic char with kohlrbi, snap peas and citrus chili sauce; roasted breast of chicken with fregola, sweet corn and scallion; grilled Wisconsin grass fed beef coop braised short ribs, white corn polenta, apple and celeraic remoulade with beef jus; and grilled Wisconsin grass fed coop flank steak with beet greens, sweet onion and mint.  The sides are; Swiss chard and chick peas; seasonal mushrooms; potato puree and Anson Mills spin rossa valsugana polenta. 

  • L'Etoile Restaurant
    This fine dining establishment was started in 1976 and serves only the best and local ingredients that support the local farmers and other artisans that grow the best foods for a distinctive French flavor.  The menu is personally watched over by the Chef, Tory Miller and is changed whenever necessary to ensure the ingredients are the optimum and freshest.  Chef Tory states that to have delicious food, you must start with the best ingredients which are in abundance in Wisconsin.  The Prix Fixe menu for two is this excellent offering, but only for the 8-10 of September and then changes; Jordanal chicken minestrone with summer veggies, cranberry beans, ditalini pasta and sarvecchio cheese; or braised Willow Creek Farm pork shoulder with heirloom tomato ragout and polenta; or toasted almond panna cotta with Door County tart cherry sauce and almond brittle.  First courses include; Harmony Valley watermelon salad with pan roasted homemade bacon, red onions, Creekside arugula and red chili and honey vinaigrette topped with Fantome Farm la roche; Sutter's Ridge raspberry salad with shooting star frisee and arugula, warmed Fantome Farm chevre, raspberry dijon vinaigrette and sarvecchio frico; Bee Charmer sweet corn chowder with hot buttered wild Alaskan king crab, grilled sweet onions and cilantro; Harmony Valley red amarnath and Fantome Farm chevre tortellini en brodo with Silver River chicken meatballs in sarvecchio-sage broth; Cherokee Farm bison carpaccio with Blue Moon kholrabi, the Gourd Guy radishes, va vang daikon sarvecchio cheese, garden to be pea vine, bintje potato crisps and black truffle-whole grain mustard vinaigrette; shooting star baby beet salad with field greens, smoked almonds and capri dairy feta dressed in a white balsamic vinaigrette; voss organics heirloom tomato sampler with Creekside arugula, armandino batali hot sopressata salami, shaved raw milk bandaged cheddar and green tomato seed vinaigrette or Creekside Field greens salad with Trufflegert hazelnuts, gourd guy radishes, va veng daikon, snug haven sun gold tomatoes, blue moon kohlrabi, sarvecchio cheese and sherry-dijon vinaigrette.  Entrees include; dry aged Fountain Prairie Farm beef served with West Star Farm roasted garlic and bone marrow mashed potatoes, Stenrud's haricots verts, Black Earth Valley mushroom and caramelized sweet onion ragout, finished with radish and tarragon compound butter and cabernet jus; wild caught grouper and smoked Yukon potatoes crushed with sweet onions and olive oil, white wine braised Jones Valley artichokes and red celery tossed in oven dried tomato and nicoise olive sauce topped with garden to be pea vine salad; wild Alaskan halibut with bintje potato, caramelized cippolini onion and homemade bacon ragout, ginger and garlic haricots verts and pickled watermelon relish; pan-roasted whey fed chicken with lardo spatzle, cherry tomatoes and braised Tuscan kale, topped with shaved baby artichokes, julienne prosciutto, grape must and olive oil.


Cavatelli pasta Harvest Restaurant Madison, Wisconsin


Pork Milanese Harvest Restaurant Madison, Wisconsin


Dry aged Beef L'Etoile Madison, Wisconsin


Wild Caught Grouper L'Etoile Madison, Wisconsin


Halibut L'Etoile Madison, Wisconsin


Pan-roasted Chicken L'Etoile Madison, Wisconsin




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  • Wisconsin Veterans Museum Wisconsin Veterans Museum Madison, Wisconsin
    The Veterans Museum in Madison, Wisconsin was and is dedicated to the many men and women of this state that have been in the service of their country.  There are two award winning galleries that honor the services of Wisconsin's people that have been in the Civil War right up to the present.  There is a 19th century gallery that is devoted to the many citizens from this state that were part of the Civil War and the significant diorama that shows the Battle of Antietam; and those that visit are allowed to search for ancestor's records that are on two state-of-the-art computers that sit in the gallery.  The 20th century gallery shows their participation in the Mexican Border campaign, first and second World Wars, Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf conflicts.  There are three magnificent full-scale aircraft in the gallery; a Huey helicopter from Vietnam, Sopwith Camel from WWI and a P-51 Mustang for the second World War.  The museum has gotten national attention for its awesome displays and they continue to develop exciting educational programs that showcase specific themes; such as Vietnam or World War I.  They have incorporated a great research center that contains archival information, books, photographic items and oral histories that can also be accessed online.  The museum is active in the community with school tours, special programs, commemorative events, and veterans groups.

  • North Country Trail
    This fantastic trail will go from Crown Point, New York to Lake Sakakawea, North Dakota; a total 4600 miles and the longest of the ten National Scenic Trails in the United States, authorized by Congress.  It was created like the others to give citizens a peaceful recreational chance to enjoy some of the most beautiful landscapes in the nation.  By 2008, it had covered 1800 miles that was certified and maintained and built mostly by volunteers.  It will go through 7 seven states, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Wisconsin and North Dakota; full of historic sites, forests, parks, wildlife refuges, game areas and scenic attractions.  There are ten National Forest areas, four places within the National Park Service, two National Wildlife Refuges, six Army Corps of Engineers impoundments and two Bureau of Reclamation projects in the trails.  They also go through 47 state forests, seven state water conservation districts, 57 state parks and historic areas and ten county parks and forests.  These areas are usually limited to walkers, hikers, cross-country skiers and snowshoeing.  Horseback riding and bicycling is allowed in specific areas that were created to handle that kind of traffic.  Around 10,000 Americans are connected to the trails completion in one way or another by way of membership in different organizations.

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  • University of Wisconsin-Madison ArboretumMadison Arboretum Madison, Wisconsin
    The university's arboretum in Madison, Wisconsin is set on 1260 acres of beautiful trees, shrubs, fields and grass areas.  Started in the early 1930s, it was originally pastures and farmland fields, and the University of Wisconsin decided to restart natural vegetation on the landscape.  In 1935 up until 1941, people from the CCC, Civilian Conservation Corps, did much of the labor that was needed to fulfill this project and presently it is a wonderfully rejuvenated ecosystem that is the most spacious and oldest arboretum in the country.  Over 300 species of southern Wisconsin's native plants have been put into the prairies and savannas of the arboretum's expanse.  The following is a list of some of the fantastic varieties that have been restored to the area's lands; Sinaiko Overlook Prairie is 5 acres of mesic to dry mesic prairie with Indian grass, Marsh Connection is a transition between the Curtis Prairie and the wetlands, Curtis Prairie is 60 acres of the world's oldest restored prairie which is a tallgrass prairie with large bluestem grass and Indian grass, Wingra Oak Savanna is open-grown bur oaks that are being restored by replacing non-native trees, shrubs and weeds with grassland species, Southwest Grady Oak Savanna is southern Wisconsin fire-adapted communities, Greene Prairie is 50 acres planted by the prairie expert Henry Greene in the 1940s and 50s,  and Marion Dunne Prairie is 4 acres of a settling pond.  There are also deciduous forests, wetlands, horticultural collections and conifer forests. 

  • Cave of the Mounds National Natural LandmarkCave of the Mounds near Madison, Wisconsin
    The cave of the mounds is a beautiful natural limestone cave near Blue Mounds, Wisconsin and named after the two hills or mounds that are close by, one is named the Blue Mounds State Park and the cave is found on the southern slope of the east hill or mound and the beauty of this marvelous cavern is from its numerous formations called speleothems; is a Greek word for cave deposit or secondary mineral formation.  The Chicago Academy of Sciences claims that this cave should be considered the most important cave of the upper Midwest since it is so breathtaking; and it known as the "jewel box" of American caves.  The U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Park Service made the cave a National Natural Landmark in 1988.  The limestone cave started forming almost half a billion years ago in the Ordovician Period, when most of the country was covered with warm and shallow areas that were perfect for the shellfish of the time to live.  Over the eons, the waters receded and left the shells to gather and form huge amounts of limestone.  The limestone that was formed is called galena dolomite since the high concentration of lead ore galena is there.  This cave was formed like most with a crack somewhere in the surface, known as a lifeline, and rain water seeped into the stone and the water combining with air or rather the carbon dioxide which formed carbonic acid.  The acid isn't too strong, but strong enough to erode the limestone, causing cavities to form, that once devoid of water let the trickling rain water come in and form solid calcium carbonate that, over the years made speleothems.  It takes about 50 to 150 years for an inch of the speleothem to be made and it is still happening today.  The cave is filled with numerous kinds of speleothems that are called; curtains, lily pads, soda straws, flowstones, oolites and helictites; with plenty of the usual stalactites and stalagmites being in evidence.

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  • International Crane FoundationSand Hill Cranes, Intl Crane Foundation Baraboo, Wisconsin
    There are fifteen species of cranes, and this foundation studies and preserves the wonderful birds of flight.  Started in 1973, the non-profit organization came to Baraboo, Wisconsin in 1984 and has 22 projects that are concerned with conservation in 40 countries.  One of the main goals of the foundation is the creation of a species bank that keeps cranes safe until the problems that are causing their decline can be corrected, such as hunting and loss of habitat.  They started by trying to raise captive cranes without much knowledge or experience and thus created a number of firsts.  For the first time ever, Siberian and hooded cranes gave birth to young, and black-necked and Broglas cranes birthed for the first time ever in this continent.  They were able to hatch an egg fertilized by cryogenically preserved semen of an endangered crane; and they are the only place in the world that has successfully bred all 15 species of cranes.  The idea began in 1973, at Cornell University when Ron Sauey and George Archibald met as ornithology students and realized they had similar dreams of starting an organization that would strive for five necessary studies; restocking, research, captive breeding, education,  and habitat protection.  Besides the cranes mentioned above, there are whooping cranes; one of the two that are native to the continent, which includes the sand hill crane; red-crowned crane, white-naped crane, sarus crane, wattled crane, blue crane, Eurasian crane, Demoiselle crane and grey crowned crane.

  • Madison's Children Museum
    The Madison, Wisconsin Children's Museum was started in 1980, by a group of visionary early childhood specialists living in the area.  They constructed traveling exhibits that were shown at parks, playgrounds and neighborhood centers, with a pilot museum in the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters.  The grand results were so good from this early pilot that a permanent location was set up in a warehouse and the museum was soon completely full.  The board of directors then started a funding campaign that gathered enough money to open a bigger location in 1991, and now is in the process of building a museum that is three times as big as the one now and will be opened in 2010.  In 2007, it was rated as one of the top 20 children's museum in America, by Grand Magazine, and this was on top of some very impressive awards already given to the museum.  In 2002, it was considered one of the top ten in the nation by Child Magazine.  The main mission is to help children connect with their families, communities and the world by discovery learning and creative play.  Over 90,000 visitors come here each year, and in the new building will focus on the arts, health, civic engagement, sciences, early learning and culture.  The museum and its staff concentrates on children and their future; hoping to empower and equip them to proactively shape the world they grow into.

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  • Olbrich Botanical GardenOlbrich Botanical Garden Madison, Wisconsin
    The botanical gardens in Madison were started in 1952, and named after its founder Michael Olbrich, and the Bolz Conservatory was added in 1991; with the Thai pavilion or sala opening in 2002.  The sala is a Thai word for open pavilion that is used for a meeting place that has a covered area to protect the gathering from rain or the heat; and this was a gift from the king of Thailand and the Thai chapter of the Wisconsin Alumni Association.  It is only one of two in the nation, although technically the only one in this country since the other is in Hawaii; and one of four found outside of Thailand.  It contains several garden areas; one of which is the Sunken Garden and similar to English gardens with limestone terraces and hedges enclosing it.  There is an 80 foot long reflecting pool that connects the garden thematically with Lake Monona close by.  A curved 155 foot bridge connects the Thai garden with the rest of the gardens, and the bridge goes over Starkweather Creek; and many small types of Thai sculpture is scattered around the area.  The plants that live here were carefully chosen to give the garden a more tropical look in the summer months, but to be hardy enough to live through the winters of Wisconsin.  The rock garden was built on a small rocky hill that is like a mountain slope and the plants here are conifers or alpine with two streams going through it that go over a waterfall and into a small pond.  A wooden footbridge goes over the stream.  The meadow garden has wildflowers, perennial grass and bulb plants; with the grass only mowed once or twice a year.  Within this garden is a smaller wildflower garden with ferns, berries and wildflowers; as well as native shrubs and trees.  The herb garden is also here with small plots of herbs that contain dye herbs, medicinal herbs and spice herbs; with a smell and touch garden.  The perennial garden showcases the perennials, a waterfall and three ponds with aquatic plants in the ponds.  The rose garden is a continuous project that contains over 700 varieties and 125 rose cultivars; or specific roses that have been cultivated for certain characteristics, like hybrid teas, floribundas, grandifloras and shrub roses.  The Starkweather Creek and atrium shade gardens contain a semicircular atrium with plants like the hostas, bishops' caps, ferns, lungworts and astilbes.  There is also a smaller garden called the Eunice Fisher Hosta garden that showcases hostas hybridized by a Wisconsin native, Eunice Fisher.  The conservatory is a pyramid shaped greenhouse made of glass that holds over 750 plants from 70 different families and 550 varieties and cultivars.  They are all tropical or sub-tropical in the 100 by 100 structure that rises to a 50 foot apex and the temperature is kept at 65 to 80 degrees except when the sun makes it go up to 95 in the summer.  The koi pond holds the koi and goldfish that people love so much and there are geckos, toads and frogs all over.

  • Wingra Boats
    These fine folks have been giving the residents of Madison, Wisconsin great outdoor recreational fun since the 1950s, when they started renting a few canoes to enjoy the 345 acre Lake Wingra.  Since that early investment, they have grown into a wonderful rental fleet of over a 100 boats of all shapes and sizes.  Beside the original canoe, they now rent paddle boats, pontoon boat, inner tubes, small and big sailboats, kayaks, swim rafts, rowing shells, rowboats, windsurfers and fishing poles.  They also offer individual and group sailing lessons, a private dock, since the area around the lake is busy with the arboretum, Vilas Beach and other privately owned areas; boat repair and hosting events.  It is part of Wingra Park; where no gas powered boats are allowed on the weekends, no wakes ever, thus creating the perfect environment for small boating.  There are numerous lagoons and inlets that are part of the thriving ecosystem and many birds migrate here during the year, which include; ospreys, cranes and herons; with all kinds of fish, water lilies and turtles.  It is a great place for muskellunge and other fish.  It is a fantastic place to enjoy the day, week or summer, with all kinds of exciting activities to keep you and your family busy with great fun.  They have summer camps for the children to enjoy, a great marina to store your boat if you come for the summer and this beautiful lake is spring fed, so you know that it is always clean.

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