Whether you’re traveling to Madison for a college visit, or for the cheese and beer, there are countless reasons to visit the capital of Wisconsin. “Madtown”, as the locals call it, was named after James Madison in 1836 and became the capital 10 years later when Wisconsin was named the 30th state.
Located in the southern region of the state and right on the beautiful Lake Mendota, Madison has remained a center of Wisconsin pride and culture for almost 180 years. If you’re looking for convenient and inexpensive ways to get to Madison, find and book your bus or train with Wanderu. A popular way to get around Wisconsin is the Badger Bus which provides convenient routes like Madison to Milwaukee.
To help you better experience the culture of the city we have put together a list of accommodations throughout the Madison area:
1) HI-Madison Hostel
141 S Butler St, Madison, WI 53703
As the only official Madison Hostel, HI-Madison brings in people from all over the world all year long. Ranging from $22-$30 a night, the bright and inviting Madison Hostel is right in the heart of the city and is conveniently found by bus. The location of this Madison Hostel is a block past the famous capitol building and a block away from state street, which is the center of nightlife.
Additionally, it is just a short walk from many of the 200 parks spread throughout the city where you can grab a bike and take the Lakeshore Path to the famous Picnic Point. The owner of HI-Madison Hostel has mentioned that Halloween is one of the best times of year to stay with them. Unlike other cities that celebrate by trick-or-treating, Halloween is a wild celebration where the whole city fills the streets from State Street all the way to the Capitol.
The Madison Hostel is right in the center of all the celebrations and with its communal kitchen and many cozy common rooms so you’re sure to make friends with locals and other fellow travelers.
- Visit the Dane County Farmer’s Market at the famous Convention Center designed by Frank Lloyd Wright
- Tour the Capitol building
- Grab some ice cream or hot chocolate (depending on the season) and watch the sunset over Lake Mendota from Memorial Union Terrace
2) Hotel Ruby Marie
524 E Wilson St, Madison, WI 53703
The Hotel Ruby opened in 1873 and has kept its Victorian decor and theme for all of these years, giving it a very warm and homey feel. Commonly described as “quaint”, this hotel is a great alternative to staying at a Madison Hostel because of how warm and friendly the Inn Keeper is.
The deep history continues as you leave the hotel, as the staff highly recommends a visit to the Up North Tavern. This former railroad saloon is located directly below the hotel and is another piece of history that has been preserved for almost 200 years, yet still remains one of the hotspots for beer drinkers all over Madison.
Right next door is Essen Haus, a traditional German bar, where everyone can be found with a boot of beer dancing to the live polka bands. The Hotel Ruby is also centrally located, overlooking Lake Monona, and a walking/biking distance from the Capitol Center.
- Bike/Walk the trails around Lake Monona
- See a concert in the square
- Kayak on the lake
- Take a tour of Ale Asylum Brewery
3) Mendota Lake House B&B
704 E Gorham St, Madison, WI 53703
If you are more interested in the peaceful atmosphere of a B&B over a social Madison Hostel, the Mendota Lake B&B is the place. It was built in 1911 and provides guests with a calm atmosphere and beautiful view of Lake Mendota. With each room named after a famous writer, the owners, Dave and Bob, pride themselves on maintaining a simple, relaxing atmosphere where guests can make themselves at home.
The B&B, one other alternative to the Madison Hostel, is in a nice neighborhood walking distance from the Capitol and main restaurant row, and one mile from the University of Wisconsin campus. Some visitors have said that the beauty of the lake makes it easy to never leave your room, so if you’re looking for a nice weekend getaway in Madison, this B&B is the place for you.
The B&B has a link on their page for events of the month but here are a few other recommended Activities:
- See a football game at UW Camp Randall Stadium
- Hit theater row for a show
- Catch one of the free shows/events on the square
- In the winter, hit the slopes for some cross country skiing
These other recommendations are not as social as the Madison Hostel but also nice:
4) La Quinta Inn & Suites Madison American – 5217 E Terrace Dr, Madison, WI 53718 (608) 245-0123
5) Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel Madison – 3841 E Washington Ave, Madison, WI 53704 +1-608-665-1681
6) Magnuson Grand Hotel – 3510 Millpond Rd, Madison, WI 53718 (608) 224-1500
We hope this guide has inspired you to get out and experience all that the Badger State has to offer!