- Where to Go
- The Best of Milwaukee and Madison
- The Best Wisconsin Weekends
- A Perfect Week in Door County
- Wisconsin for Recreationists
- Rustic Road Tripping
- Made in Milwaukee
- Madison Weekend
- Sports: The Packers and Beyond
- Out on the Town in Milwaukee
- Say Cheese!
- Four Days in the Mad City
- A Wisconsin Family Road Trip
- Wisconsin’s Best Brews
Standing atop the most prominent aerie in Madison, the stately white bethel granite Wisconsin State Capitol (2 E. Main St., 608/266-0382, www.doa.state.wi.us) is the largest in the country and definitely one of the most magnificent. Designed by George Pesi, who also designed the New York Stock Exchange, it sits a stately 300 feet above an already high moraine—a beacon for lost out-of-towners (and a 25-year pain in the butt for yours truly to bike up each morning). The current building (the first two burned) was constructed over 11 years and cost $7.25 million—$0.25 per state resident per year of construction. (Never again would something like this be possible on the public nickel.) It resembles the nation’s Capitol from afar: The powers that be in D.C. took this as a sign of homage but then realized plans were to build Wisconsin’s Capitol taller than D.C.’s. So ours had to become shorter, though its volume is greater (holds more beer, of course).
The interior features 43 different types of stone from eight states and six foreign countries, including semiprecious marble nonexistent today. The mosaics, imported and domestic hand-carved furniture, massive murals, and hand-stenciling make the building priceless. Interesting Capitol tidbit: The Capitol always wins local surveys for cleanest public bathrooms.
If you don’t arrive in time for a tour, the observation deck is also generally open in summer, with superb views! The State Capitol is open 8 a.m.–6 p.m., with free tours hourly 9–11 a.m. and 1–3 p.m. Monday–Saturday, Sunday also in summer.
© Thomas Huhti from Moon Wisconsin, 5th Edition