Guide to Life in Madison

State Street scene
As the late-summer sun begins to set, silhouetted pedestrians and bicyclists make their way along State Street near the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

Never been to Madison? Wondering what it is like here? What is an Isthmus, anyway? Hopefully, this short student-produced guide will help answer some of your questions.


  • By bus: this is a great option for students because we get free bus passes, and the bus goes just about everywhere you need to be.
  • By bicycle: another great way to get around. Madison is full of bike trails and bike stores. There is a major street near campus that is for bikes and buses only!


  • The Isthmus Daily Pages feature movie times, all the local music and entertainment listings, where to eat, organizations and interest groups, and much more. Look here for classified ads, housing, and employment listings as well.
  • features local news, weather, a forum, and links to local blogs. This is another good place to look for housing or employment.
  • The Overture Center for the Arts features a concert hall, theater, and auditorium. See the Madison Symphony, a touring show, or a local act.
  • The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art is part of the Overture complex; this museum is in a brand-new location and is completely free.
  • The Chazen Museum of Art is on campus (and also free) and features some very eclectic exhibits.


One of the great things Madison has to offer is a sense of community. Here are just a few of the organizations and people that make that possible!

  • Neighborhood Centers are a tradition in Madison and feature some of the best local activities (and are a great way to meet your neighbors and get involved off-campus!)
  • Willy Street Co-op is Madison’s largest natural foods co-op grocery store.
  • MCC Housing Co-ops if you need a place to live or have dinner.
  • Vet Center (706 Williamson St, Madison 53703; 608-264-5342) offers counseling.


Madison is generally considered to be an open and accepting community, and is home to many great organizations and social groups that foster community and provide services to LGBTQ individuals.