Things to do in Middleton that don’t cost a dime
No matter the season, experiencing Middleton doesn’t have to cost you or your family a dime. Whether visiting for a few days or a whole…
No matter the season, experiencing Middleton doesn’t have to cost you or your family a dime. Whether visiting for a few days or a whole week, there’s plenty to do and explore here that is entirely free. Check out all that’s free and fun to do in Middleton below.
Entertain the whole family with the Middleton StoryWalk®
The Middleton Public Library and the Downtown Middleton Business Association partner each season to bring stories to life through an outdoor storytelling experience. Friends, families and individuals are invited to follow a book, page by page, by visiting more than 20 businesses throughout downtown Middleton. Each stop has an illustrated poster that matches a page in the season’s chosen book. StoryWalk® maps can be picked up at the Middleton Public Library. The StoryWalk® is a fun way for the whole family to take in all downtown Middleton offers.
The fall 2023 StoryWalk® features “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” by Mo Willems and will be available in downtown business windows from Sept. 2 through Nov. 24 (2023). Learn more here.
Check out the National Mustard Museum
It might be the quirkiest condiment shop in the world! The National Mustard Museum is a mecca of mustards, housing more than 6,000 jars, bottles and tubes of mustard from all 50 states and more than 70 countries; if they don’t carry it, they can probably find it. The National Mustard Museum is located in downtown Middleton and is open to visitors free of charge. The shop sells (and samples) mustard, as well as comical gifts. Current hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m., seven days a week.
Admire local art through Middleton’s Outdoor Art Trail
Another way to explore the city is through Middleton’s Outdoor Art Trail. The art trail takes visitors on a journey throughout the city, from art installations to stained glass to colorful murals. It’s up to the visitor if they’d like to experience all 15 stops or choose from just a handful. This activity can be enjoyed by all ages and at any desired pace. View the Art Trail map here.
Walk (or drive) through history
The City of Middleton traces its beginnings to an 1832 fur trading post along the northern shore of Lake Mendota near what is now Mendota County Park. Middleton was incorporated as a village in 1905 and became a city in 1963. Today, the city retains its beautiful historic charm and celebrates its landmarks. To experience and learn more about Middleton’s history, head to the Middleton Area Historical Society’s Rowley House Museum. This historic landmark building was built in 1868 and contains information, collections and artifacts donated by early settlers. The Rowley House Museum is open from 1-4 p.m. on Tuesdays and 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturdays from mid-April through mid-October.
Another way to dig into Middleton’s history is by taking the downtown Middleton Stroll ‘n Tell guided history tour, offered by the Middleton Area Historical Society. This tour takes visitors back in time to explore Middleton’s historical landmarks and rich past; check out a list of upcoming tours dates here.
For a self-guided walkable tour: click here to download Middleton’s Historic Walking Tour map.
For a self-guided history tour (which will require some driving), click here to download Middleton’s Landmarks Tour map.
Make a splash at the Lakeview Park Splash Pad
If looking for a spot for your little ones to burn off some energy and cool off on a hot summer day, check out the free Splash Pad at Lakeview Park. This fun, brightly colored, interactive park will entertain kids of all ages for hours. The Splash Pad is open from 9 a.m.-7 p.m., seven days a week, from late May through Labor Day, Sept. 4 (2023).
Enjoy live music
During the summer, live music is often heard multiple times per week at multiple outdoor venues across Middleton. Capital Brewery’s Bier Garten hosts live music every Friday night from mid-May through the beginning of October. Patrons are invited to grab a beer and one of the many picnic tables lined up in front of the Bier Garten’s performance stage, which also has a waterproof tent in case of rain. Throughout the year, Hidden Cave Cidery offers live music on most Saturday nights, and when the weather gets nice, performers are moved from the indoor tasting room to the outdoor patio space. While the weather is nice, Stone Horse Green in downtown Middleton offers different programming throughout the week, including live music. Check the most up-to-date listing of live music events on our event calendar.
If looking for an all-day activity centered around live jazz music, mark your calendars from 2-10 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 9, for the Strollin’ Middleton Jazz Festival at Stone Horse Green. This event has live performances throughout the day with Alexander McLean Quartet with Dee Alexander Music, John McLean, Emma Dayhuff & Gregory Artry performing at 8 p.m. This is an entirely free event and open to all – but bring a blanket or camp chair to enjoy.
Explore Middleton outdoors
Adding outdoor time into a Middleton trip is a must. Whether it’s the 30 parks, 27 miles of multi-use trails, easy access to Lake Mendota or the 549 acres of protected natural area at Pheasant Branch Conservancy, the outdoors instantly calls visitors to Middleton. Bring your boat and access Lake Mendota through Marshall Park and Mendota County Park in nearby Westport or stop at Marshall Boats to rent a watercraft just for the day. Pack your hiking or walking shoes and explore some of nature’s finest sights along the trails at Pheasant Branch Conservancy or the many other parks in the city. And if you’re a biker, enjoy Middleton’s nationally recognized community trails system or elevate your thrill level up a notch at the Middleton Bike Park, home to miles of single-track trails – and this fall, will include a brand new pump track. Click here to learn more about the endless outdoor recreation opportunities in Middleton.
Planning a trip?
Want to make planning a trip to Middleton easy? There are multiple resources available on our website. Depending on the type of trip you’re looking for, there are multiple itinerary options — view helpful blog posts and specific adventure itineraries. Our website also provides a complete list of all dining in Middleton (more than 70 restaurants and cafes), and links to shopping in Greenway Station and downtown Middleton (more than 60 places to shop). When booking a hotel room, there are nine excellent properties to choose from, all of which are conveniently located just minutes from downtown Middleton.