Tour itinerary: 5 days in South Central Wisconsin

Middleton is the convenient hub for exploring attractions in south-central Wisconsin. Spend less time on the road and more time experiencing the region’s culture, natural beauty and shopping hotspots. At night, enjoy comfortable Middleton lodging and numerous nearby dining options. Here’s a sample five-day itinerary that will take you to some top regional attractions.

Day 1: Cruising Culture

Morning: Visit Monona Terrace, a dramatic Frank Lloyd Wright-designed convention center in downtown Madison. The facility draws more than 56,000 visitors annually. Check out the panoramic views of Lake Monona and visit the gift shop and display of Wright images.

Afternoon: Tour Overture Center for the Arts, a performing arts center and art gallery in Madison. The center houses seven performing arts spaces and has hosted performing artists like Bob Dylan, Yo-Yo Ma and ZZ Top. Check out the center’s impressive architecture and visit the center’s four visual art galleries—they hold a beautiful mix of exhibits of state and local artists.

Evening: Take in a live theater performance at one of our regional stages. American Players Theatre in Spring Green is a 1,089-seat outdoor amphitheater that offers classical performances June-October.

Day 2: Tour & Taste

Morning: Head to Babcock Hall, a popular stop on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. It’s named after a renowned UW researcher who developed the first reliable butterfat content milk test. It’s a good place to do a little dairy research of your own. Student-led guided presentations take place in a second-story observation deck that overlooks the dairy plant. Learn about milk bottling, ice cream and cheese making and head to the Babcock Hall Dairy Store for some delicious ice cream before departing.

Afternoon: Drive north to the picturesque Wollersheim Winery. Located on a scenic hillside near the Wisconsin River, this winery offers views that match the beauty of its craft wines and spirits. The winery produces a wide range of products, including Prairie Fume, a semi-dry white that’s popular in the region. Guided tours take place daily and offer a behind-the scenes look at this beautiful winery.

Evening: Return to Middleton to explore the downtown dining scene. Middleton’s lively and walkable downtown is dotted with restaurants, including some with live music.

Day 3: Mission Madtown

Today we’ll head to the heart of Madison, which is just a 10-minute drive from Middleton. We’ll start our day by touring two of the state’s finest museums. First on deck is the Wisconsin Historical Museum, which offers fascinating exhibits that tell the stories of native people, settlement days, immigrants’ experiences and the lively politics of Wisconsin. Just around the corner is the Wisconsin Veterans Museum, that connects the past to the present by sharing the stories of Wisconsin’s military veterans. This museum and research center chronicles the state’s military history from the Civil War to the present day.

Afternoon: Explore Madison’s iconic State Street. We’ll take a walking tour that tells the story of some of the century-old storefronts that dot the street, but we may get distracted by the street musicians and red-clad UW students bustling to class.

Evening: Return to Middleton, a commute that takes just minutes. We’ll finish the day with a stop to Greenway Station, which offers a stylish mix of stores and restaurants.

Day 4: Natural Discoveries

Morning: Our day begins in the heart of the University of Wisconsin Campus. Allen Centennial Garden is a public botanical garden maintained by the Horticulture Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In addition to serving as an outdoor classroom for UW-Madison students and the surrounding communities, it’s a beautiful place to visit and explore.

Later, we head to Olbrich Botanical Gardens, an impressive greenspace that’s owned and operated jointly by the City of Madison Parks and the non-profit Olbrich Botanical Society. The gardens include a rose garden with more than 700 varieties and a striking Thai pavilion that was a gift from Thai Chapter of the Wisconsin Alumni Association and the government of Thailand through its king, Bhumibol Adulyadej. It’s one of only four of its kind outside of Thailand and one of two in the United States.

Afternoon: We head north to the International Crane Foundation, a non-profit conservation group that works to conserve cranes and their ecosystems. The wildlife center in Baraboo features guided tours of the world’s cranes and an opportunity to take a hike on beautiful nature trails. The center’s gift shop features nature themed items from around the world.

Head to Cave of the Mounds National Landmark. This underground natural limestone cave system is considered the premier cave of the upper Midwest. Tours pass a stunning array of colorful crystal formations on paved lighted walkways.

Evening: Enjoy a delicious meal at the Old Feed Mill Restaurant and Gift Shop in Mazomanie, a restaurant with a rich history. The restaurant is located in a restored 1857 feed mill and it features delicious entrees prepared with ingredients sourced from local farmers.

Day 5: Rare Wonders

Morning: Head to Circus World Museum in Baraboo, a complex devoted to the wonders of the circus. Baraboo was home to the famous Ringling Brothers and the museum now holds one of the world’s largest collections of circus materials, including circus wagons, posters, photography and artifacts.

Drive to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin, the beautiful estate of the famous American Architect. The site is on the National Register of Historic Places and has been nominated as a World Heritage Site – it’s truly an American treasure.

Afternoon: Head to the House on the Rock. This amazing place is nothing like Taliesin, but it is fantastic nonetheless. Experience incredible displays such a massive indoor carousel, a 200-foot-long model of a sea creature, as well as hundreds of mannequins, hanging from the ceiling. You have to see it to believe it!

Evening: Toast your five-day tour at Capital Brewery and share stories of your trip through the Middleton area.