While it’s Madison in the summer that brings crowds of people to the city for music festivals, outdoor activities, and sporting events, Madison in the winter has its own special charm if you’re willing the brave the cold Wisconsin weather. There is something magical that happens when neighborhoods put up their lights and festive decorations, the snow falls, and the city becomes a Winter Wonderland. Whether you’re a Madison resident or you’re just passing through for the winter season, there are a lot of great things to do to get you out and about in the city.
Head to Wisconsin’s most iconic landmark, the Wisconsin State Capitol, to see the spectacular holiday decorations and the forty foot Balsam Fir in the rotunda. The tree is decked out with 1,400 ornaments made by people all over Wisconsin. To top it off, kids will love the train set at the base of the tree.
If you’re feeling up to it, you can take an hour-long tour to learn about Wisconsin’s rich history and grow a better appreciation for local government.
You can find some of the best light displays around at Olin Park and the Henry Vilas Zoo. Both Holiday Fantasy in Lights and Zoo Lights transform their respective spaces into lit up masterpieces ‘that you can cherish long after the snow has melted.’ Either walk or drive through Holiday Fantasy in Lights for free or see the zoo in a whole new light for $7 per person (children under 3 are admitted for free.) Visiting these holiday spectacles are a great tradition for your friends or family.
Madison is home to many great parks that stay open in the winter months. So if you’re in need of a fun, outdoor activity, you can visit Tenney Park for some ice skating. Whether you’re a novice or a skating expert, you’re able to rent skating or hockey skates for a small fee. If you prefer to watch the pros do it, attend a Madison Capitols game at Bob Suter’s Capitol Ice Arena or UW-Hockey game at the Kohl Center.
Of course, the holiday season isn’t complete without a visit from Santa! Visit Santa in the HotelRED lobby followed by free hot chocolate and brunch in The Wise. The hotel will be abuzz with holiday cheer and delight as children share their wish lists and take photos with Old Saint Nick. This magical event is sure to be fun for the whole family.