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On summer Sunday nights, enjoy a free ski show at Law Park. On summer Wednesday nights, there are free concerts on the capitol square, but you need to get there early as this is a very popular event.
Madison has an arboretum which is fun for nature lovers to explore.
This summer you can also see 101 painted, full-sized "cows" for Cow Parade Wisconsin 2006! These costumed and/or painted or otherwise decorated cows are displayed on streets, in parks and near landmarks in downtown Madison, Sun Prairie, and Fitchburg.
Every year, on the first Saturday in July, Madison's Warner Park hosts an amazing fireworks display set to music called Rhythm and Booms.
Madison has a huge, unique Art Fair On and Off The Square the second weekend in July - it's free to look at all the art (not free if you buy something!)
Stoughton's recently restored Opera House is a thing of beauty to behold.
Every May, on the weekend closest to May 17, Stoughton hosts a celebration of Norwegian Indepenence Day, called Syttende Mai. The two parades are free, the Sunday parade is the best one.
Stoughton has a great, scenic walking or biking trail.
On Labor Day weekend, Madison has a Taste of Madison on the square, the food can get pricey, but you don't have to buy any food to enjoy the live bands.
Madison has beautiful Olbrich Gardens and domes which is not too costly.
If you really have the money to spare, you might want to take the kids to Wisconsin Dells to a water park - I suppose it's not that expensive if you consider that you are spending the whole day there. If you go to the Dells, I do recommend the Indian Ceremonial (at night), or the Tommy Bartlett Ski, Sky, and Stage Show. Riding the "Ducks" are popular, or take a tour of the Upper and Lower Dells (Upper Dells are prettiest).
Madison does have a waterpark, too, in the Holiday Inn on the west side of Madison. Our son won lodging there, so we enjoyed it for two days and nights. On Friday nights, there is free pizza and other foods.
Years ago, many Norwegian women were hired to work at the Mandt Wagon Works. These women would all take a break during the day to go home, check on their kids, start or stir the evening meal and pause for a cup or two of coffee, then go back to work.
Contact Stoughton or Madison Chambers of Commerce
I have just scratched the surface of all the fun things to see and do in south central Wisconsin. Come see and discover for yourselves!
Cave of The Mounds at Blue Mounds, Wisconsin and the town of Mt. Horeb are absolutely great places to visit. Kids love Cave of The Mounds more than House on The Rock. I know there are some wonderful apple places, too, but I can't remember where they are. I love traveling through south central and south western Wisconsin! So many great small towns and beautiful scenery off the beaten track. Black Earth has a terrific shoe factory/store. People are generally very friendly (unless you're not a Packers fan). I, too, love the Madison/Vilas Zoo - it's free and better than most zoos. Cambridge is another nice little town on Lake Ripley. I could go on and on about Wisconsin (and I'm from Illinois).
There is also Little Norway near the Cave of The Mounds--nice thing about the Cave is that it is accessible if you can handle steps--so many caves are tight squeezes and some even have you crawling--not this one. Plus you can go rain or shine year 'round.
In Stoughton, near our campground, Syttende Mai this year (2007) will be held the weekend of May 18, 19, and 20. If you like Norwegian culture, you will love this event. There is also an arts/ crafts fair, a 20 mile race or a 13? mile walk, a canoe race, and much more! Check out Stoughtoncityguide.com .