100 N. Hamilton St.
Madison Wisconsin 53703United States
Midwest Living Recommends
Lots of art, some learning and a giant gerbil wheel make for an experience parents and kids can all get behind.
After moving four times in 30 years, the Madison Children's Museum finally settled into what they hope will be a permanent home -- a $5 million building just off Capitol Square. Relocating has more than tripled the space available to the museum: It now has 26,000 square feet open to the public, and man, have they used it. Technically, the museum is an educational institution, and there's plenty to learn there, but even more, it offers kids as old as 12 a chance to let loose and play.On the first floor, the 5-and-under set will be captivated by the Ewok village-like Wildernest area, with its tree-trunk huts and dinosaur-bone bridge. Older youngsters will likely race up to the second floor for the chance to run in a giant gerbil wheel or construct some incredible contraption out of the variety of blocks and other building materials in the Possible-opolis area. Creative types can try their hand at painting, drawing and making magic with a mixture of media in the art studio, and a twisty, dreamy climbing structure beckons irresistibly to anyone small enough to scale its spectacular heights.Up top, the four-season -- yep, even in the Wisconsin winter -- Rooftop Ramble offers a look at regional greenery and wildlife. The museum has a strong environmental and local focus, using literally tons of sustainable materials and work from local contractors and artists for its exhibits. Local healthy-but-yummy kids' cafe Bean Sprouts operates a location on the main concourse (open free to the public), if you need a bite. If you're in Madison and need to give the children a few hours of family-friendly fun, you'll be glad you came here.