Spend a Weekend with Your Pup Enjoying Mad City
Madison is Wisconsin’s capital city and is about four hours from the Twin Cities, making it a great place to visit for a long weekend. Madison is a clean, vibrant, and lively city with bike lanes, great restaurants, beautiful lakes, and the stunning Capitol building. Once you arrive in Madison, just about everything you’ll want to see is within walking distance or a very short drive. Read on for the best dog friendly things to do in Madison, Wisconsin!
Visit Madison invited me to explore this region. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
1. Grab Lunch at Longtable Beer Cafe
Longtable Beer Cafe, a restaurant and tasting room, brings a communal experience to craft beer and food. Longtable has about 300 craft beers in a self-serve open cooler, along with 12 rotating taps. Many of them are Wisconsin and Minnesota-made. You’ll also find yummy snacks including meats, cheeses, local produce, in-house smoked BBQ, farm-fresh salads, and veggie platters.
The cafe features communal seating in a casual setting, with tables custom-made by a local woodworker who used reclaimed barn wood from New Glarus. Longtable is named after its 23-foot-long table, which seats up to 24 people. There is patio seating in warm weather and a garage door that opens the main restaurant to the outdoors.
2. Grab a Treat at Petphoria
Locally owned and operated by Wisconsin native, Grace and her sweet pup Beni, Petphoria offers some of the cutest and intentionally over-the-top bandanas, bowties, toys, and luxury treats for dogs, as well as dog-themed t-shirts and socks for humans. Grace was inspired by her time living in Los Angeles where she was invited to lavish Bark-mitzvahs and excessive doggie birthday parties. Petphoria also sells hair ties and bandanas for you and your pup to match, many of which Grace sews herself. We picked out a bowtie, cookies, and a High Noon-inspired chew toy for Ole.
3. Walk Around Pheasant Branch Conservatory
Dane County Parks manages 319 acres at the Pheasant Branch Conservatory. This site has a diverse topography including dense trees, prairie, wetlands, and several springs that provide fresh water into Lake Mendota. The conservatory is a great place for hiking and bird-watching. Dogs are welcome and must be leashed at all times. Be sure to grab your Dog Permit ahead of time.
4. Hidden Cave Cidery
One of the highlights of our day was speaking with the Hidden Cave Cidery award-winning founder, Walker Fanning. Walker is a UW-Madison alum with a degree in agronomy, the study of agriculture for food, fiber, and feed. Walker buys all of his apples from local Wisconsin farmers and processes the ciders in-house. We most enjoyed the chocolate hazelnut, blood orange, salted caramel, and lemon ginger ciders. Hidden Cave sells dog friendly pupachinos and hosts dog friendly events throughout the year such as photos with Santa in December.
Local Tip: Be sure to download the Madison On Tap app, which is your free roadmap to 30+ breweries, cideries, and distilleries with opportunities for discounts and prizes. United in their dedication to creating hand-crafted, innovative drinks, local Madison makers are crafting beverages and experiences that can’t be found anywhere else. Hidden Cave Cidery is one of the participating businesses that offer a discount when you “check-in” on the Madison On Tap app.
5. Young Blood Beer Co.
For delicious beer and a great atmosphere, check out Young Blood Beer Co. The inside is covered with vibrant plants and hanging vines and there are large windows that let in a lot of natural sunlight. In nice weather, you can grab a seat outside on the sidewalk and sip your beer while also getting a nice view of the Capitol, which is across the street. They have a great selection of beers from Lagers and Hazy IPAs to fruity Sours and refreshing Pilsners. They also have a great patio for dogs!
6. Dinner at Merchant
Merchant is an energetic industrial-chic café serving craft cocktails and high-quality seasonal fare. It has a nice upscale, yet relaxed vibe. I recommend the broiled whitefish entree with a gin and tonic. Then finish the meal by sharing a decadent chocolate cake. Dogs are allowed on their outdoor patio!
7. Colectivo Coffee
Kick off your second day in Madison with a stop at Colectivo Coffee for lattes, bagels, muffins, and breakfast sandwiches. You’ll also find pup cups for your dog to enjoy. Only service dogs are allowed inside, and all dogs are allowed on the outside patio.
8. Dane County Farmers’ Market
The Dane County Farmers’ Market, which surrounds the Capitol on Saturdays from April through November offers vegetables, flowers, meats, cheeses, and specialty products from approximately 275 vendors. All items for sale are grown, raised, and produced in Wisconsin. While dogs are not allowed at the Farmers’ Market itself, you’ll find a lot of vendors selling bandanas, treats, and other goodies to bring home to your pup.
9. Rent Bikes from Madison BCycle
Madison is a great city for bikers because there are so many bike lanes. And, if you don’t have your own bike, it’s easy and affordable to rent one from Madison BCycle. Download the app on your phone and set up your payment information ahead of time. These bikes are scattered all over the city and the app will tell you specific pick-up locations near you, where you can find a charging station, and how much charge is left in the battery. A great route is starting in Turville Bay and ending at Starkweather Brewing. There are a ton of fun stops along the way including breweries, parks, shops, and places to grab sandwiches. If you have a tiny dog, they can fit in the front basket.
10. Lunch at Alimentari
When you’re ready for lunch, visit Alimentari, a high-end market that makes deli sandwiches, fresh pasta, sauce, cheese, and more. There’s no seating inside, so grab your items to go and find a nice park and set up a picnic with your dog.
11. Starkweather Brewing Company
Starkweather Brewing Company serves as a community-focused gathering place in the heart of Madison’s East Side and a welcoming destination for all to explore a dynamic, evolving menu of uniquely crafted beer. They have a spacious indoor room and a large patio that’s great for dogs! We sampled a few beers including the Sweet Heat Pineapple, which is made with scorpion pepper, Lake Loop, a smooth cream ale, and Sunfighter, a refreshing American Blonde Ale.
12. Drinks at State Line Distillery
State Line Distillery features grain-to-glass spirits and craft cocktails. It’s a beautiful and bright space with reclaimed wood from an old barn that was once important to the owner, giving the space so much character. I recommend Bees Knees, which is made with gin, lemon, honey, and cane sugar. Dogs are allowed inside and on the patio year-round.
13. Dinner at Grampa’s Pizzeria
Grampa’s is a tiny house-turned-restaurant serving up a third-generation family pizza recipe. Here you’ll find quality ingredients, warm service (some of whom are related to Grampa himself), and a relaxed atmosphere. There’s also an impressive wine menu and unique dessert options, like the chocolate grapefruit mouse we enjoyed. While dogs aren’t allowed inside, grabbing a pizza to go and enjoying it in the park is a great summer option!
14. Run Free at the Boneyard
The Boneyard is Madison’s first dog park biergarten. This relaxed environment lets dogs run around off-leash in a large fenced-in yard, while humans enjoy beer and snacks. If you don’t have a dog and you just want to see cute puppies, you’re allowed to hang out and watch them all play!
15. Brunch at Everly
Kick off your final day in Madison with brunch at Everly. This modern, bright eatery offers all of your favorite brunch options. The fresh fruit, perfectly cooked eggs, and refreshing mimosa all added up to a delicious meal! Leashed dogs are allowed on the outdoor patio.
16. Rent Kayaks or a Pontoon
Wingra Boats offers kayaks, pontoons, rowboats, and canoe rentals in three different locations to make getting out on the water easy and fun. One Wingra Boats location sits on Lake Wingra, just down the road from Everly. This location is almost entirely surrounded by the woods and marshes of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum, making it a secluded and peaceful place.
17. Enjoy Baked Goods at Bloom Bake Shop
This tiny neighborhood bakery creates freshly made bread, cakes, pastries, donuts, and sandwiches. You’ll also find dog friendly cupcakes and cookies! Go early because on weekends there is a line out the door!
18. Walk the UW-Madison Arboretum Grounds
The UW-Madison Arboretum includes the oldest and most varied collection of restored ecological communities in the world. Educational tours, science and nature-based classes, and a wide variety of volunteer opportunities for groups, families, and individuals are available. While dogs are not allowed here, it’s still worth a visit, and it’s totally free!
19. Madison Chocolate Company
Madison Chocolate Company is an independent, woman-owned chocolate shop and a small cafe. They serve decadent sweets, caramels, chocolate truffles, and more. While they don’t have dog friendly sweets, it’s still a nice place to grab a latte or truffle to bring to the park or to sip on a walk with your dog.
20. Where We Stayed
We stayed at Hyatt Place located in the heart of downtown Madison. It’s dog friendly, offers free breakfast, and is very clean and quiet. We most appreciated how centrally it was located so we could easily walk to so many things.