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Overview

Built on an isthmus between lakes Monona and Mendota, Madison was named for the fourth president of the United States, James Madison. When territorial judge James Doty saw the area in 1829, he became so entranced by its beauty that he bought 1,200 acres of land and platted a city. Selected as the territorial capital in 1836, Madison was little more than a plan and didn't become a city until 1856. Boasting a total of five area lakes and more than 260 city parks, Madison is famed for its natural beauty and healthy living. The city's dedication to protecting and maintaining its green space has earned Madison the honor of being a "green" ...

Built on an isthmus between lakes Monona and Mendota, Madison was named for the fourth president of the United States, James Madison. When territorial judge James Doty saw the area in 1829, he became so entranced by its beauty that he bought 1,200 acres of land and platted a city. Selected as the territorial capital in 1836, Madison was little more than a plan and didn't become a city until 1856. Boasting a total of five area lakes and more than 260 city parks, Madison is famed for its natural beauty and healthy living. The city's dedication to protecting and maintaining its green space has earned Madison the honor of being a "green" community. With designated bike lanes on many major streets and an extensive bike trail system, Madison is ideal for cyclists, many of whom pedal year round. The beautiful State Capitol, topped by Daniel Chester French's gilded bronze statue, dominates the city skyline. Created in 1848 with only 17 students, the University of Wisconsin-Madison is now a major force in town. Situated on a 935-acre campus, the university now has about 42,000 students and helps imbue Madison with a charming wealth of cultural offerings, ethnic restaurants, unusual shops, coffeehouses, galleries and celebrations galore.

Jackie Finch
About the Expert

Jackie Sheckler Finch has written several guidebooks, including The Unofficial Guide to Campgrounds in the Great Lakes States, and four times she was named Travel Writer of the Year by Midwest Travel Writers Association.

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Jackie Finch for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Labor Day weekend for the annual Taste of Madison