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Sitting prettily between two lakes, Mendota and Monona, and with a reputation as the friendliest and most walkable city in the USA, Wisconsin's state capital of Madison has plenty going for it. It also neatly combines outdoorsy and cultural activities so it really is an all-rounder city. And you can be sure that the best places to stay in Madison are within easy walking distance of the best the city has to offer.
Inevitably, you will be drawn to the water; in fact, the city boasts five lakes altogether. Here you can hire a boat, go for a cruise, take a dip or just take it easy on one of the many beaches. And there are plenty of waterfront restaurants to round off the day with dinner and a spectacular, watery sunset.
Other places to get your exercise fix include the Olbrich Botanical Gardens: 16 acres of varied landscapes and Mid-West hardy plants as well as a tropical house with exotic flowers, birds and a waterfall. Or take a stroll around the 1260 acres of Madison Arboretum.
The city offers some striking architecture including the Capitol building with its council chambers modelled on the Doge's Palace in Venice, and Frank Lloyd Wright's Monona Terrace with its cool, white curves and stunning lake views from the rooftop garden and cafe. Both buildings can be toured.
The Museum of Contemporary Art is another striking building, with changing exhibitions of international artists, while the Chazen Museum of Art, in the university, has something for all tastes from Old Dutch Masters to Picasso and Andy Warhol. Also in the university, the Discovery Building is, as its name suggests, full of discoveries from a dinosaur-age garden to hands-on exhibits. And don't forget to make time for the State Historical Museum.
The city has a great foodie scene, with a weekly farmers' market in Capitol Square renowned for its artisanal cheeses and breads, plus the city offers several food tours. Our pick of the best places to stay in Madison ensures you will get the most out of this famously friendly city.
For a lake-side location
- In a perfect position on the shores of Lake Mendota, the art-deco style Edgewater enjoys enviable views - as do most of its sleek, classic-contemporary rooms. Plus there’s an on-site spa.
Best Hotels in Madison
The Edgewater 202 rooms from $139Madison (Wisconsin)
Standing tall on Lake Mendota, near to Capitol Square, this Art Deco boutique offers a luxurious stay for leisure and business guests. Modern interiors and ceiling-to-floor windows capture the light & Lakeside setting. Perfect hospitality includes the Wellness on the Water spa.Sights nearby - Check out the Capitol building and its bustling historic square.Views - Lake Mendota.Romantic - Good for couples.Lively - Hip and happening.Recommended by - Tablet