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 mid August, this past year organized by the OutReach LGBT Community Center. The highlights were 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 Play Festival with 11 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. For public transportation info see the Metro Transit website.
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.
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 features information on all Wisconsin gay bars and events. 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.
For map locations and website links to the businesses below, and more, see our gay Madison listings pages.
Bars and restaurants
Cardinal Bar (418 E Wilson St) gay-friendly dance bar mix, 18+ nights, wide music range includes Latin, jazz, and live gigs, many Wisconsin micro brews on tap.
Five (5 Applegate Court), seven days/ week gay nightclub; DJs, theme parties, patio, foam parties, videos, pool, darts, shows, bear nights, drag shows, regional, and national performers. 18+ on Fridays for College Night with go-go boys. Their Rear View Back Bar opens daily at 4pm (2pm Sundays) with videos, pool, darts, patio, and Happy Hour bargains.
Plan B (924 Williamson St), wine video bar and gay dance club, live entertainment, drag shows, karaoke, 18+ Thursday LAB Nights, 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, monthly "Lez Fests."
Woof's (114 King St), bear and leather men's sports bar, pool tables, bowling and darts leagues.
In Wisconsin Dells, a few miles to the north of Madison, Captain Dix (4124 River Rd, Rainbow Valley), is an international LGBT resort with cabins, bar, restaurant, massage therapy, pool and volleyball court.