Day Trips from Madison



Sailboats on Lake Mendota-Photo by Jeff Miller, UW-Madison

Below are some of our favorite day trips from Madison.  Click on the links for more information.

Ten Chimneys

Genesee Depot, Wisconsin

Approximately a one hour drive from Madison, Ten Chimneys is the lovingly created and lavishly appointed estate of theatre legends Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. Tours of the estate run early May through mid November.


Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Approximately a ninety minute drive from Madison, Milwaukee is Wisconsin's largest city. Known for brewing and manufacturing, Milwaukee has a long list of cultural attractions including the recent addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum and the new Harley-Davidson Museum.

Milwaukee School of Engineering Grohmann Museum

The Grohmann Museum at Milwaukee School of Engineering is one of Milwaukee's newest attractions and home to the world's most comprehensive art collection dedicated to the evolution of human work. The museum welcomes visitors to three floors of galleries where a core collection is displayed as well as special themed exhibitions.  The museum also has a spectacular rooftop sculpture garden.

Milwaukee Art Museum

Celebrated art, dramatic architecture, scenic gardens--discover Wisconsin's premier destination for art and culture located on the shore of Lake Michigan in downtown Milwaukee.

Harley-Davidson Museum

Located in the Menomonee Valley Sustainable Development District in Milwaukee

From the oldest Harley known to exist, to an exhibit on how current bikes are designed and built, the Harely-Davidson Museum is home to an ever changing variety of dynamic and interactive exhibits.


Spring Green, Wisconsin

Approximatly a one hour drive from Madison, Spring Green lies in a beautiful rural valley along the Wisconsin River.  Home to many natural areas and attractions including, Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin, and the American Players Theatre (APT), a trip to Spring Green makes for a fabulous day trip from Madison. 

American Players Theatre

American Players Theatre is a professional, Equity, classical summer stock (outdoor) theatre located on 110 rolling, wooded acres about four miles south of Spring Green.  American Players Theatre presents a unique blend of civilized amenities and great theatre, performed outside atop a gentle knoll in a natural amphitheatre. As the actors compete with the stars, moonbeams, and whippoorwills to present the world's greatest plays, the audience sits in comfort on cushioned theatre seats.

House on the Rock

In the 1940's, Alex Jordan began building a home seventy feet in the air on top of the Deer Shelter Rock. The original structure kept expanding to contain his extensive collections. The complex opened to the public in 1959 and has grown to be one of the Midwest's most popular tourist attractions. Highlights include: The Heritage of the Sea featuring a 60 meter model of a whale, The Music of Yesterday a collection of self-playing music machines, The Streets of Yesterday fashioned after the popular Streets of Old Milwaukee exhibit at the Milwaukee Public Museum, and "the world's largest indoor carousel". Tours run May through October.


For fans of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, Taliesin is the source. The ideas, concepts, theories and techniques applied to every structure that bears Frank Lloyd Wright’s imprint had their genesis at Taliesin.  Tours of Taliesin run May through October.


Baraboo, Wisconsin

Approximately a one hour drive from Madison, the Baraboo Hills are home to a variety of spectacular natural areas and attractions.  Our favorites are:

Circus World Museum

The Circus World Museum site was the winter home of the Ringling Brothers Circus from its inception in 1884 through 1918. Now owned by the Wisconsin Historical Society, the museum offers exhibits on the history of the Ringling Brothers, over fifty restored antique circus wagons, historic buildings from the original wintering grounds, a research library, and regular performances at the Hippodrome during the tourist season.

Devils Lake State Park

Devil's Lake State Park is situated along the Ice Age Trail, a thousand-mile footpath — entirely within Wisconsin — that celebrates the legacy of the Ice Age.  The park offers spectacular views from 500 foot cliffs, miles of hiking trails, 2 sandy swimming beaches, campsites, mountain bike trails, cross country ski trails, great climbs and much more.

International Crane Foundation

The International Crane Foundation (ICF) commits itself to a future where all crane species are secure - a future where people cooperate to protect and restore wild populations and their ecosystems. These efforts sustain the places where cranes live, to the benefit of countless other species. A visit to the International Crane Foundation can be life changing.


If you're looking to go a little further afield (3-6 hours drive from Madison), you may be interested in exploring the following destinations:

Door County, Wisconsin

The Door County peninsula enchants visitors with its 300 miles of shoreline, five state parks, cherry and apple orchards, and artist colonies. The narrow peninsula - only 75 miles long and 10 miles wide - provides an astonishing variety of attractions.

Door County is home to the nation’s oldest professional resident summer theater company, which performs in an outdoor amphitheater in Fish Creek. Picturesque communities, including Baileys Harbor, Gills Rock and Sister Bay, offer historic points of interest that reflect the area’s Scandinavian and other original ethnic settlers. Museums showcase the county’s rich maritime history. The only state-owned golf course can be found in Ephraim. A winery in Egg Harbor uses local fruit for its wines. A ferry takes visitors to Washington Island, just off the tip of the peninsula, and to smaller Rock Island, once the private estate of a millionaire investor and now a ruggedly beautiful state park. The scenery is spectacular year-round.

Apostle Islands - Bayfield, Wisconsin

Bayfield is the type of small town travelers dream about – picturesque and charming with modern amenities and accommodations. Summertime fills this Lake Superior port with sailboats, sea kayaks and charter fishing boats. Bayfield takes pride in its Victorian mansions, restored and opened as gracious inns or bed & breakfasts. On summer nights, Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua stages unique cabaret entertainment under a big tent just outside of town. In addition, Bayfield is the gateway to the stunning Apostle Islands National Lakeshore; 21 gem-like coastal islands that are home to lighthouses, sea caves, hiking trails and terrific blue-water sailing. The Madeline Island Ferry crosses the bay on a 3-mile trip to Madeline Island. The Island is home to Big Bay State Park and the Madeline Island Historical Museum, located on the historic site of the former American Fur Company trading post.