Sometimes all you need is an afternoon of adventure, and sometimes your wallet disagrees. These days, it can feel as though fun can cost an entire paycheck. You want to get out of the house, explore your city, and still make the rent this month. Is that too much to ask? We think not. Fear no more, friends. We have compiled a list of the top attractions in Madison, all of which are completely FREE! You’re welcome.

For the Floral Fanatic: The Olbrich Botanical Gardens are a true beauty. Featuring 16 full acres of diverse plant life, this destination will keep your eyes dazzled for the duration of your visit. Those touring the gardens can expect familiar plants from the Midwest, as well as exotic flowers from the tropics. Temperatures in the Bolz Conservatory range from 65 degrees to 95 degrees, making it a true escape from the Wisconsin elements. To learn more about this Wisconsin gem, please visit: (

For the History Buff: Spend the day observing democracy and visit the Wisconsin State Capitol. Take in the breathtaking beauty of this monument, and stand in awe of the artistic expression throughout. Experience the state icon on the observation deck, and visit the sixth-floor museum to improve the historical experience. Tours are available for free, except on holidays. For information, and to schedule your tour, please visit: (

For the Eccentric Explorer: Looking for something completely unexpected to do this weekend? Make plans to attend the National Mustard Museum located in Middleton. Featuring over 6,090 types of mustard from all 50 states and over 70 countries, this improbable ode to mustard has become quite popular. Since debuting in 1992, the National Mustard Museum has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Jeopardy, and To Tell the Truth. Admission to this culinary marvel is always free, and they are typically open seven days a week. For more on this unique attraction, please visit: (

For the Avid Artist: Stroll through the exhibits at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art and experience the work of Romare Bearden, Deborah Butterfield, John Steuart Curry, Frida Kahlo and more! The mission of the organization is to, “Exhibit, collect, and preserve modern and contemporary art to provide transformative experiences that educate, reflect, and inspire us as individuals and a community.” While admission remains free, the hours for the museum vary, so double-check before planning a visit. For more information on this cultural gem, please visit: (

For the Restless Wanderer: Make the Capital City Trail a priority on your list this fall. Start with one of Madison’s most famous routes—the loop around the lake—and branch out from there! Take in the skyline from Olin Park and travel to the Monona Terrace. Once you make your way around the lake, consider visiting the Southwest Commuter Bike Path, the Badger State Trail, Military Ridge Trail, and Capital Springs State Recreation Area–all of which connect to this trail.

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