By now you’ve heard that the 2017 CrossFit Games (2018 and 2019, too) are heading to Madison, Wisconsin. After years in Southern California, CrossFit fans will now have to travel to the Midwest to a city they may never have visited.

So with the announcement that we are heading to Madison the first week of August, we asked Barrett Danz, owner and founder of CrossFit Big Dane located in downtown Madison, to give some insight into what the home of the University of Wisconsin has to offer.

The CrossFit Games are heading to Madison, Wisconsin, and your first question might be…”where in the hell is Madison?” Ok, thanks Google Maps. That is quickly followed up with, “what in the hell am I supposed to do in Wisconsin outside of the CrossFit Games?!?”

First of all, it’s pronounced Wis-cahn-sin.  Be sure to plug your nose while you take a moment to read that part aloud, go ahead I’ll wait. You’re in the Midwest now, embrace it, love it, have fun with it!  Second, Wisconsin in general (and especially Madison) really is amazing in the summer.

With over 820 miles of coastline and 15,000 inland lakes Wisconsin is an outdoorsman’s paradise.  The state features thousands of trails for hiking, biking and exploring that will keep you busy in the badger state. The city of Madison also boasts many downtown and “short travel” experiences for the foodie and beer connoisseur.

Hotels and Accommodations

For those who know they are going to the 2017 Games, it would be wise to not to put off the accommodations reservations for too long.  While there are many hotels and accommodations in the area, they are starting to fill up fast. The hotels within walking distance to the Alliant Energy Center are already booked with the nearest hotel just under two miles away. Expect those to be booked soon as well. Fortunately, Uber is a staple in Madison (we’ll get to that later).
If getting a hotel room isn’t your thing, you can also check out Airbnb. There are some nice places still available, especially if you are travelling with a large group.


Like I mentioned earlier, Uber is extremely popular in Madison. That will likely be your best bet while in town. There are a few local cab companies as well. It’s not Los Angeles, but it won’t be hard to find a ride.

If you feel like staying active from A to B, Madison is a very cycling-friendly city as well. Madison BCycle has stations where you can pick up and drop off daily rental cruisers all around the city!


While you may be in the great northwoods, it still gets pretty hot here in the summer days (depending on what you are used to).  In August, temperatures usually get up to the mid- to upper-80’s or sometimes even the 90’s during the days.

The lows, however, generally drop down into the 50s or 60s so you may want to pack a longsleeve shirt or even a light sweatshirt if you plan being outside early in the morning or late at night.

Fun Stuff!

The city of Madison and Dane County have plenty of fun activities to keep you busy during your stay.  There’s something for everyone here in the capital city.
  • Active and Outdoors

    • Devil’s Lake State Park.  A beautiful and secluded state park boasts hundreds of miles of trails, a lake and beautiful sights like bluffs, rock formations, rock climbing, waterfalls and much more! Roughly a 30 minute drive from the city limits. Dog friendly as well!

    • Governor Nelson’s State Park.  Another great option for hiking, swimming and exploring. It is just 10-15 minutes from downtown and also features a dog park.

    • Olbrich Botanical Gardens.  Sixteen acres of outdoor gardens featuring stunning landscapes and Midwest-hardy plants.  FREE and open daily!

    • Henry Vilas Zoo.  Great small zoo for families or anyone looking to for some quiet and a little down time.  FREE and open every weekday!

    • Picnic Point.  Picnic Point, a nearly mile-long peninsula along Lake Mendota’s south shore, is among Madison’s most distinctive features and is one of the most popular destinations in the city.

    • Drop in at CrossFit Big Dane!!!  We are located on Park Street in downtown Madison and it is the closest gym to the Alliant Energy Center. We look forward to meeting those travelling across the country.

  • Eat, Drink, Be Merry!

    • Capitol Square. Located in the heart of downtown Madison on the capitol square.  There are dozens of restaurants and bars to choose from, all with the beautiful backdrop of a lit up capital building at night.

      • Paleo Friendly Restaurants

      • Not Paleo friendly, but a must do for any out of towner

        • Get an ‘Old Fashioned’ at the Old Fashioned on the square.  You’re just not a tourist until you do this one.

    • State Street.  Get rowdy at some of the local “college bars” or find a great burger!

    • Memorial Union Terrace.  Day drinking done right.  Located on the UW Madison campus and looking over Lake Mendota. The Mendota Terrace is an excellent place to stop and have a beer.

Fancy a Trip?

The New Glarus brewery tour is one of the best.  New Glarus brews some of the tastiest of beer selections that can be found all over the city of Madison, but is only carried in the state of Wisconsin.  The 40 minute drive is completely worth it. Just one taste of one of these artfully crafted brews and you may just start looking for a Wisconsin address.

Welcome to the Midwest

Here in the heartland, we’re excited to play host to the CrossFit Games. We are also excited to have all those travelling across the country (and globe) to visit our fine city for the week.  You’re coming to the Midwest. Expect to be greeted with a smile and a handshake, eat a hearty meal and be treated with respect. It’s not unheard of for strangers to smile or even say hello to one another on the street. I hope you embrace what Madison has to offer and we hope you enjoy your stay!

The Madison area is home to a myriad of fun activities to keep you and your friends busy, well fed and active during your stay.  There’s something for everyone here in the badger state capitol. But don’t just take my word for it, see you in August!

Barrett Danz is the owner and founder of CrossFit Big Dane– located in downtown Madison, Wisconsin. He brings experience as a strength and conditioning and power lifting coach prior to starting CrossFit. He has been an athlete and an avid fitness fanatic his whole life and he truly enjoys helping others find new confidence through fitness.

Your gym can’t do it like we do. #frozen#crossfitbigdane #innerathlete #mannequinchallenge

A video posted by CrossFit Big Dane (@crossfitbigdane) on

Leave a Reply