4 Madison walking tours for the adventurous

These special tours let you step into historic...
4 Madison walking tours for the adventurous
Forest Hill Cemetery

Taking a page from Doors Open Milwaukee, our city is holding its own Doors Open Madison tour on April 24 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. “It’s a way for the public to see the built environment and get inside the buildings they drive by all the time and they have no idea what’s going on inside,” says Downtown Madison Inc. President Susan Schmitz, whose organization is putting on the event. Twenty-six sites are included on the tour and participants can pick and choose which places they’d like to visit. Most site tours are self-guided and include several UW-Madison buildings–the Education Building, the Observatory and the Carillon Tower–plus other places like the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, the YWCA and guided tours at the MGE cogeneration plant and Bascom Hill. Find details at doorsopenmsn.com.

The city’s most well-known historic walking tours are given by the Madison Trust for Historic Preservation. Tours on Saturdays and Thursdays cover areas all over the city, including Machinery Row, Bascom Hill, Westmorland, the Marquette Bungalows and Mansion Hill. There’s a nominal fee and tours go on rain or shine. Check madisonpreservation.org for tour details.

The legendary Forest Hill Cemetery is a 140-acre park designed in the style of a romantic or rural cemetery, meaning it “drew on the English landscape garden style, which emphasizes scenic, meandering views rather than scenic composition.” Confederate and Union soldiers, Wisconsin’s founding fathers and eight former Wisconsin governors are all buried here. Walking tours are self-guided and you can find a tour map at cityofmadison.com/parks/documents/ForestHillWalkingTour.pdf.

If the living dead are more your thing (sorry, we had to), check out the Talking Spirits: Forest Hill Cemetery Tour put on by the Wisconsin Veterans Museum for one week in October. The annual tour “focuses on the contributions of Wisconsin’s soldiers and citizens during the Civil War.” Actors and actresses wear period dress and narrate scripted vignettes. A tour guide leads the whole group and discusses the cemetery’s history. Find more information at wisvetsmuseum.com/educators/CemeteryTour