Visit the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery in Madison, WI

Visit the UW-Madison guide to the city at

The Wisconsin Institute for Discovery is located in the beautiful Discovery Building in the heart of the University of Wisconsin-Madison on the city’s isthmus. Wisconsin’s capital is consistently rated one of the best (Happiest, Quality of Life, Livable) cities to visit and live in–and why wouldn’t it be? With two big lakes, miles of bike and foot trails, and tons of parks, you’ll find something to keep you active. Not into the outdoors? Enjoy the vibrant Madison nightlife full of great bars, concerts, and boutique restaurants, or experience Madison’s art and culture at the Chazen Museum and Art Fair on the Square.

Lodging and Accommodations

Madison boasts many great options for hotels and alternative lodging. We’ve compiled our list of favorites for WID visitors: see WID preferred accommodations for more information.

Cuisine and Nightlife

State Street at night put Madison in the Top Ten for food in the US in 2013, and with good reason. The refined palate can sample a smorgasbord of farm-to-table and gourmet restaurants, while the more democratic tongue can catch quick tastes of any number of national cuisines and greasy spoons on State Street and at the food carts on the Library Mall and Capitol Square. After dinner enjoy a craft beer at The Cooper’s Tavern, a local brew at the Great Dane, an old fashioned at the Old Fashioned, or a new cocktail at any one of downtown’s specialty pubs and taverns. Then close out the night by catching a show at The Majestic or The Orpheum–two venues that helped win Madison a spot in Livability’s Top Ten cities for music.
There are even dining options inside the Discovery Building where WID is located — Steenbock’s on Orchard and Aldo’s Café — and nearby at the Library Cafe and Bar as well as Union South across the street.

Arts and Culture

Sky view of art museumArt Fair on the (Capitol) Square. Chazen Museum of Art‘s permanent collection. Madison Museum of Contemporary Art‘s rotating exhibitions. Off-Broadway, Shakespeare, Madison Symphony Orchestra, and local productions at the Overture Center for the Arts, the Broom Street Theater, and The Bartell. Discover local artists in the Williamson Street neighborhood, or listen to the Madison Chamber Orchestra and Madison Opera perform under an open summer sky. Madison has long been a center for visual and performing arts, a small city where you can find a surprising array of things to move you. As a vibrant university town, Madison offers something exciting to do every day. Find out what’s happening during your visit.

Getting Around

Biking in Madison

Seeing Madison on foot is certainly possible, but there are many other great ways to get around Madison, including a wonderful bus system (with apps like Transit App providing real-time bus arrival information) and an excellent bike share program called Madison BCycle (along with great bike lanes and paths).
Parking can be difficult on the UW-Madison campus and downtown, so plan ahead if you’re driving. If you’re visit WID in the Discovery Building, get more information about parking here.

Staying Active

paddling Lake Mendota Madison Marathon series. Capitol View Triathlon series. The Wisconsin Ironman. Rowing clubs. Kayaking. Hiking trails. Outdoor hockey, indoor hockey, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and ice fishing. Ice sailing and traditional sailing. Stand-up paddle boarding. Madison Ultimate Frisbee Association. For the beginner and the world-class competitor, Madison can keep you active.
It is easy to see why USA Today ranked Madison in the top 5 for cyclists. With dedicated bike lanes, more than 150 miles of off-street bike paths, local and national bike shops, Trek’s national headquarters, a police force dedicated to shared streets, cycling and triathlon races, a growing bike share program–Madison encourages the beginner, accommodates the commuter, and challenges the athletic cyclist.