Vilas Zoo is big enough to be interesting but small enough to not be overwhelming, especially for families with children, or adults with short attention spans. The zoo itself is free and the fun activities within are quite affordable. Ride the train, go see the big carousel, or bring a penny for the penny press machine and choose which animal you'd like!
The High Noon Saloon's brick exterior gives it a rustic feel, and the nightly live music performances here just can't be beat. It offers an impressive variety of musical genres and leaves many satisfied not only with the tunes but with the service they received from its staff. Be aware that some musical events require a cover charge or tickets, but isn't a great live band and a Spotted Cow worth it?
When you drive towards the city center from John Nolen Drive, this building is one of the most noticeable within Madison's skyline on Lake Monona. The terrace itself is a convention center with a great view of the lake from its shore-facing side. Relax watching the waves lap up on shore while people jog by on the running path, or get in on one of the daily tours.
These gardens are everything you would want them to be in the summertime. They boast 16 acres that include but are not limited to rose, rock, wildflower, and herb gardens, a tropical conservatory, and a gilded Thai pavilion. Olbrich Gardens can be a romantic getaway from the city, or a refreshing daytime walk among the blooming flowers.
The Overture Center is a stunning building with seven unique venues in the building in addition to art galleries (including the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art). Some of the noteworthy performances that have taken place here are The Lion King, Wicked, and Marry Poppins musicals, the Wisconsin Singers and The Nutcracker. Plenty of musicians and bands that fit your taste can also be seen live if you're hungry for an exhilarating performance while you're in town.