The answer to all of these questions is yes. While Madison is technically in the middle of nowhere, surrounded on all sides by miles and miles of fields, it is not nowhere. The city breathes life. If you can’t find something to do in Madison, then you aren’t trying hard enough. I had my own personal favorites while living in the Mad-city (it is a city, second largest one in the state of Wisconsin!) and you should plan your trip around what you want to do.
In the springtime head to the Olbrich botanical gardens to see the flowers. Wander the acres, stop in the herb garden to smell the smells, take a moment at the Thai pavilion or warm up in the conservatory. If you come during the summer, be sure to hit the Art Fair on the Square or the Taste of Madison for a late summer trip. Fall is an excellent time to take a bike ride through the fall leaves, on the miles of bike path that criss cross the city. Don’t come in winter, it’s just too cold. No, really, stay away. Go to Florida.
If you find yourself there anytime between April and November, then head to the Capitol. Saturdays from 6am to 2pm you will find the Dane County Farmers Market. It is a mecca for all things fresh and delicious. You can get fresh fruits and vegetables (organic or not), breads, pastries, honey, cheese and so much more. One of my favorite stalls is (was?) located on Main street. A little white tent filled with jewel-colored jars of jam, jelly and preserves. Sparkling in the sun, these jams are all tantalizing, I longed to fill my pantry with all of them.
I don’t live in Madison anymore, but I still have a farmers market. While not nearly as fantastic as the DCFM, I did manage to find some tasty-looking blackberries this past weekend. More berries than I could possibly eat in one week, but just enough to preserve for the whole year. These berries would be jam and my bright summer days would last me through the dark days of the winter.