The Best Day Trips From Madison, Wisconsin

Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison
Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison | © Royal Broil / Flickr
Photo of Victoria Borisch
Freelance Writer1 May 2018

While Wisconsin’s capital has plenty of attractions to visit, those looking to get out of the city for a day or two will not be disappointed by their options.

Madison’s central location in the southern part of the state creates a lot of opportunities for visiting neighboring communities, whether to explore historic sites or relax in the great outdoors. Check out these seven great day trip options from Madison!

Spring Green

Spring Green is just about an hour to the west of Madison. This small town is home to two of Wisconsin’s most famous architectural attractions: House on the Rock and Taliesin. The House on the Rock is an awe-inspiring place that now encompasses multiple buildings and exhibits with quirky attractions, including the world’s biggest carousel. Also located in Spring Green is Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin complex. Taliesin is an 800-acre estate that served as a home and studio to the famous architect. Both are must-sees for architecture aficionados.

House on the Rock | © Joseph Kranak / Flickr

Devil’s Lake State Park

For those looking to spend a day surrounded by nature, nothing beats Devil’s Lake State Park. The biggest state park in Wisconsin, visitors can soak up the sun on the lakeshore while taking in the stunning glacier-carved rock formations. In the midst of the park, you’ll find it hard to believe that this tranquil, natural oasis is only an hour away from Wisconsin’s busy state capital.

Devil's Lake State Park | © Jay / Flickr


Baraboo is approximately an hour’s drive from Madison and is home to the “Greatest Show on Earth.” The Ringling brothers got their start here in the late 1800s. Today, the town’s Circus World museum preserves the history and carries on the legacy of their world-famous circus. Baraboo is also home to the only exclusively clown-focused museum in the world, the International Clown Hall of Fame and Research Center, which is also worth a visit for circus fans.

Circus World Museum | © popo.uw23 / Flickr

New Glarus

Beer lovers should head to New Glarus, which is home to one of Wisconsin’s most famous craft brews, Spotted Cow. Apart from excellent beer, the village is also known for its Swiss charm. Settled by immigrants from Switzerland in the mid-1800s, New Glarus fully embraces its heritage by welcoming visitors with traditional architecture, restaurants, and shops.

New Glarus Tasting Courtyard | © mcfst3 / Flickr


It’s no secret that Wisconsin is famous for cheese, and Monroe is one of the best places in the state to get it. The “Swiss Cheese Capital of the USA” can be found about an hour south of Madison, near the Illinois border. Visitors can learn about this small city’s 100-year cheese-making history by touring local cheese factories and visiting the National Historic Cheesemaking Center and Museum.

Baumgartner's Cheese Store & Tavern in Monroe | © SD Dirk / Flickr

Wisconsin Dells

It’s very easy to watch a day quickly fly by in Wisconsin Dells. From America’s largest waterpark to the famous duck tours, the activity options are endless. In just over an hour from Madison, you can be in the heart of the adventure. While all the tourist traps may be appealing, be sure to make some time to check out the stunning rock formations via one of the Dells Boat Tours®.

Wisconsin Dells | © atramos / Flickr / Derivative from original

Mount Horeb

Mount Horeb is the “troll capital of the world” and is just over a half hour’s drive from Madison. Creatures from Norwegian folklore line the main street on what is referred to as the village’s “Trollway.” Created as both a way to embrace the area’s Norwegian immigrant past and to draw in tourists, the trolls are brought to life by a local woodcarver. With more than 15 life-size trolls now sprinkled around Mount Horeb, there is even a downloadable map available to help visitors find them all.

Mount Horeb Trollway | © joelrivlin / Flickr

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