608today City Guide Live

Madison’s most iconic landmarks

Consider these our Hollywood signs.

The granite domed Wisconsin State Capitol building against a blue sky.jpg

The Wisconsin State Capitol is 284.4 feet from the ground floor to the top of the statue on the dome. | Photo by 608today

We’ve all been there: Someone’s trying to give you directions by describing 10 lefts, 20 rights, and a jumble of cardinal directions. Isn’t it easier to just point out a landmark?

That’s exacting what we’re doing. We have 20 of the most recognizable Madison landmarks, from the Wisconsin State Capitol to the old Oscar Mayer plant. Not only are these icons easy to remember, but they’ll get you where you need to go in a jiffy.

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Alliant Energy Center’s Veterans Memorial Coliseum has had some of the nation’s top acts perform there. | Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Alliant Energy Center
Address: 1919 Alliant Energy Center Way
Nearby: Wisconsin Department of Revenue, Quann Park

The coliseum has seen the likes of Frank Sinatra, Pink Floyd, Elvis Presley, Duke Ellington, Jimi Hendrix, and more.

Breese Stevens Field
Address: 917 E. Mifflin St.
Nearby: Madison Youth Arts, Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra

The historic stadium has multiple uses. It’s home to the USL League one soccer team, Forward Madison FC; the city’s semi-professional Ultimate frisbee team, the Madison Radicals; and has a wide array of outdoor concerts and activities throughout the year.

Camp Randall Stadium
Address: 1440 Monroe Ave.
Nearby: Henry Vilas Zoo, UnityPoint Health - Meriter Hospital

The site of the oldest stadium in the Big Ten Conference was once a camp for Union soldiers during the Civil War. It has been home of the Wisconsin Badgers football team, in one form or another, since 1895.

First Unitarian Society
Address: 900 University Bay Dr.
Nearby: UW Health - University Hospital, UW-Madison Lakeshore Nature Preserve

The Unitarian Universalist meeting house was designed by world-renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright and built by Marshall Erdman in 1949-1951. It has been designated a US National Historic Landmark for its architecture.

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The tuberculosis sanatorium was in operation from 1930 to 1966. | Photo by 608today

Lake View Sanitorium
Address: 1204 Northport Dr.
Nearby: Warner Park, Cherokee Park

Now on the National Register of Historic Places, Lake View is a former county tuberculosis sanatorium. The last sanatorium built in Wisconsin, it was in operation from 1930 to 1966 and has sweeping views of Lake Mendota.

Machinery Row
Address: 601-627 Williamson St.
Nearby: Law Park, Monona Terrace

This long brick commercial block was built in stages from 1898 to 1914. It currently houses a bicycle shop, a restaurant, and more.

Madison Public Library - Central Branch
Address: 201 W. Mifflin St.
Nearby: Wisconsin State Capitol, Overture Center for the Arts

The branch has several floors of books, an area just for kids, a music recording studio, social resources, a green roof, meeting and event space, and several other amenities.

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The Memorial Union is one of the most beautiful student centers in the US. | Photo by 608today

Memorial Union
Address: 800 Langdon St.
Nearby: Lake Mendota, Wisconsin Historical Society

The Neo-Renaissance building, which houses cafeterias, a theater, and more, is considered one of the most beautiful student centers on a university campus in the US. Its outdoor terrace is a summer hotspot for students and locals alike.

Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center
Address: 1 John Nolen Dr.
Nearby: Wisconsin State Capitol, Brittingham Beach

Frank Lloyd Wright first proposed this building for the city in 1938, but the county board rejected the plan by one vote. It wasn’t until 1997 that its doors finally opened. Today, hundreds of events happen annually within.

Orpheum Theatre
Address: 216 State St.
Nearby: Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Overture Center for the Arts

The live performance and musical theater dates back to the 1920s when it was built as a movie palace. On the National Register of Historic Places, big acts continue to come to the glorious theater including Herbie Hancock, Charlie Berens, and Keb’ Mo’.

Oscar Mayer Plant
Address: 2099 Roth St.
Nearby: Bridges Golf Course, Demetral Park

Oscar Mayer closed its Madison plant for good in 2017, but the plant remains. The facility began operations in the early 1900s. At its peak in the 1970s, it employed over 4,000 Madisonians. The Weinermobile continues to crisscross the country.

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St. Bernard is to be the future cathedral parish of Madison. | Photo by 608today

Saint Bernard Catholic Church
Address: 2450 Atwood Ave.
Nearby: Olbrich Botanical Gardens, Goodman Community Center

After nearly 20 years without a cathedral, the Diocese of Madison recently announced that the Holy See approved St. Bernard to be the future cathedral parish. It is currently being renovated and will be ready by early fall 2025.

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Warner Park plays host to the Madison Mallards baseball team and the Madison Softball Team. | Photo by 608today

Warner Park
Address: 2920 N. Sherman Ave.
Nearby: Northside Town Center, Dane County Department of Human Services

This stadium is home to the Madison Mallards, a summer collegiate baseball team. The park will also host Madison Softball games starting in 2024.

Wisconsin Department of Corrections
Address: 3099 E. Washington Ave.
Nearby: Salvation Army, Worthington Park

The imposing structure, now home to the Wisconsin Correctional Center System, was formerly the headquarters of American Family Insurance Company.

Wisconsin State Capitol
Address: 2 E. Main St.
Nearby: Monona Terrace, Wisconsin Veterans Museum

No building in downtown Madison stands taller. In fact, a city ordinance prohibits any building within a mile of it to be taller. Atop the granite dome stands the gilded bronze statue “Wisconsin” which symbolizes Wisconsin’s state motto, “Forward.”

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The new $33 WYSO building is a new fixture on East Washington Avenue. | Photo by 608today

Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra
Address: 1118 E. Washington Ave.
Nearby: Breese Stevens Field, Madison Youth Arts

The brand new $33 million facility houses classical music students from the region. Designed to look like a cello leaning on its side, the building has recital halls, studios, and practice rooms.

Local icons that probably won’t help with directions:

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Madison is home to hundreds of effigy mounds built by the Ho-Chunk people. | Photo by 608today

Effigy Mounds
Address: 10 Muir Dr.
Nearby: Mendota Mental Health Institute, Governors Island

Sacred to the Ho-Chunk, there are a plethora of effigy mounds in Madison. The largest bird effigy mound in the world is located on the grounds of the Mendota Mental Health Institute. The mound is 131 feet long and has a wingspan of 624 feet.

Elvis Presley Fight Scene
Address: 3618 E. Washington Ave.
Nearby: Dane County Regional Airport, East Madison Community Center

There’s a plaque here that makes note of the time Elvis Presley broke up a fight at a nearby gas station.

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Madison’s iconic picnic shelter was designed by Kenton Peters. | Photo by 608today

Rainbow Shelter
Address: 410 1/2 E. Washington Ave.
Nearby: Warner Park, Lake View Elementary School

The popular rainbow picnic shelter, with its colorful cylinders, was designed by Kenton Peters and was built in 1994.

Resurrection Cemetery Mausoleum
Address: 2705 Regent St.
Nearby: Forest Hill Cemetery, Madison West High School

The Catholic cemetery was founded in 1949. Famed comedian and Madison native Chris Farley is at rest in the mausoleum.

What did we miss? Let us know.

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