Wisconsin's vibrant capital city, Madison offers visitors the best of all worlds: natural beauty, recreational opportunities, cultural offerings, distinctive restaurants and shops, and a spirit of fun. In the fall, check out the stunning colors of the changing foliage while biking, hiking, windsurfing, or walking. Winter brings cross-country skiing, ice-skating, and downhill skiing.
Highlighted by the majestic state capital, Capital Square is a popular gathering place. Built on a narrow isthmus between lakes Monona and Mendota, Madison basks in spectacular natural beauty. These beautiful lakes and over 200 parks are open year-round. Madison is home of the University of Wisconsin and the college boys are out and about.
Gay life here is friendly and laid-back. Wisconsin Capitol Pride takes place in early August, this past year organized by the OutReach LGBT Community Center, with a parade around Capitol Square, and rally with entertainment at the top of State Street.
The five theatre companies of the Bartell Theatre present several plays of gay interest on two stages throughout the season, including an annual Queer Shorts Festival of short plays in June. The Madison Ballet company stages productions both here and at the Overture Center, home to the Madison Symphony Orchestra.
Dane County Regional Airport is the main gateway to Madison. It handles mostly regional flights, but has some from farther away. Metro bus 20 runs daily from the airport to North Transfer Point and East Towne Mall.
As with most towns in the region, you’ll probably want a car to get around, but there is public transportation info -- see the Metro Transit website. Base fares are $2 per trip, $5 for a One-Day Pass (buy on the bus), $65 for a 31-Day Pass with unlimited rides, and $17.25 for a 10-Ride Card (as of Sept 2017).
Madison's bike share system, B-Cycle, offers no cost rides with a one day memberships at $6 (30-minute rides) or $15 per month for 60-minute rides. Additional fees apply for any single trip over the 30-60 minute periods, but your trip time resets with each docking of the bike at a B-station.
What to do
The Madison Gay Video Club meets on the first and third Saturday of each month. Gay feature films screen on one level, hard-core porn in the basement. There’s also a naked wrestling mat and oil for slippery fun.
StageQ has three productions of LGBT interest this 2017-18 season at the Bartell Theatre, plus a Queer Shorts Festival in June, occasional photo exhibitions, and theatre workshops. See our Madison events page.
Wisconsin Capitol Pride takes place each year in late August, with a parade around Capitol Square and other events at the Alliant Energy Center, Willow Island.
Media & Resouces
Our Lives Magazine is Madison's LGBT & XYX magazine, with six issues each year. Find them at coffeehouses, restaurants and many other businesses around town.
Based in Green Bay, Quest has community new and listings information for all gay bars and events in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin LGBT History Project is about the men and women who have made today's LGBT community what it is in this state.
Outreach (600 Williamson St) is Madison's gay community center.
Bars and restaurants
Five (5 Applegate Court), nightly gay club; DJs, theme parties, patio, foam parties, videos, pool, darts, shows, bear nights, drag shows, regional, and national performers. 18+ Fridays and Sundays, Saturday dancing, Sunday Drag Review. Monday CW Line Dancing, Tuesday Karaoke; pool tables, darts, variety shows, monthly amateur performance contests, Latin Nights.
Nomad World Pub (418 E Wilson St) gay-friendly pub mix, live music gigs, Latin and jazz nights, Quiz and Geek events, international football (soccer) games on TV.
Plan B (924 Williamson St), Wednesday-Saturday wine video bar and Saturday gay dance club, live entertainment, drag shows, karaoke, 18+ Thursdays, special event theme parties.
Shamrock (117 W. Main), friendly neighborhood bar and grill welcomes everyone, seven days a week, bear and darts nights, food until 1am.
Sotto (303 N Henry St), Wednesday-Saturday LGBT basement dance club, 18+ nights, drag show, live music, Latin Nights.
Woof's (114 King St), bear and leather men's sports bar, pool tables, bowling and darts leagues, CW music nights; Nasty Pig Leather/Fetish Boutique in the back.