The Wisconsin State Capitol
Wisconsin's capitol building might just be the most beautiful of all 50 states - making it a sight to see and a great photo spot. Built over 100 years ago, this magnificent building is a quintessential part of Madison. You can't go wrong with picking this spot because inside and out, there are a ton of photo opportunities. From the beautifully painted rotunda to the lantern balcony to all of the gorgeous staircases, there are so many nooks and crannies to get unique photos. And after we finish up with the capitol, walking around the square, to state street, or the Monona Terrace are all great secondary locations.
The Monona Terrace
This unique building is another quintessential Madison spot. It's not just for weddings and events; it makes for a gorgeous backdrop for engagement photos. The rooftop offers views of Lake Mendota and the capitol building, along with a fountain and gardens. It's a lovely and classic spot no matter what time of year you're hoping to get your photos done.
Olbrich Botanical Gardens
Olbrich Gardens is truly a Madison classic. This large conservatory offers stunning landscapes filled with a variety of structures, flowers, and trees. If you like magical hidden paths and fairytale-esque gardens, this is the spot for you. From the Rose Garden to the Thai Pavilion and Garden, there are so many unique and beautiful photo ops. Honestly, it's easy to get lost in the gardens with all of the winding stone paths!
The UW Arboretum
I love visiting the Arboretum! It's got almost every Wisconsin native tree you can think of - making it a magical spot, especially in mid-May and October. It's great year round, but the blooms in the spring and the fall colors are hard to pass up! In the summer, the roses in the garden are absolutely gorgeous. And you can't go wrong with the miles and miles of wooded trails, boardwalks, and prairies. It's a quiet and inspiring location, perfect for long walks and nature backdrops.
There are a lot of spots around town to stop and admire Madison's skyline, but I think Olin Park might have the best view. The skyline view looks like it's straight out of a painting (I have painted myself it once)! Olin Park also has lots of green grass, wooded trails, and a lovely little beach. The sunset here isn't too shabby either!
Another great spot for a Madison skyline view is Olbrich Park. It's right across the street from Olbrich Gardens, but it's got it's own unique beauty. It's got a sandy beach, green grass, piers, and of course the Biergarten. Although a little further away than Olin's view, you can still spot the capitol building from this lovely location. It truly shines at sunset!
The Union is a historic and iconic spot in Madison. As a UW Alum, it's still one of my favorite spots to just sit and relax, meet up with friends and grab some beer, catch a show, and to watch the sunset (can you tell I'm a fan of sunsets?!). For me, this is definitely a nostalgic pick, but it offers so much more than nostalgia! Right near Lakeshore Path and State Street, the opportunities for photos in and around the union are endless.
Right off the capitol square, the Willy Street neighborhood is another iconic spot in Madison. It's got diverse, historic buildings, plenty of Madison charm, and probably everyone's favorite restaurants (Ha Long Bay is mine). Whether you're in the mood for some ice cream or great drinks, Willy Street has it all. At the end, you'll find Yahara Place Park, which offers a beautiful nature-y contrast to the urban views of Willy Street. Yahara Place Park always has something going on - from impromtu concerts to games of frisbee, it's a great spot for engagement photos or to hang on a Friday evening.
Hoyt Park is a personal favorite of mine, and not just because I lived near it for years. It offers lots of winding wooded trails and gorgeous sunset views of west Madison. It's also one of the few places in downtown Madison that you can have a campfire. Hoyt has unique fireplaces, perfect for cozying up with your person and roasting some marshmallows.
Your Favorite Coffee Shop / Bar
Okay, this isn't a specific spot per-se, but I think it's worth suggesting. Every couple has "their" spot, whether it's your favorite place to frequent, or where you had your first date. In my opinion, it's awesome to pair a park with an indoor location because it offers you variety with your engagement photos. And your engagement session is basically a date anyway (with a third wheel - me!), so why not grab a drink and have some fun?! The photos below were taken at Barrique's.
James Madison Park
If you thought I wasn't going to mention EVERY great sunset and capitol view, you were wrong... Trust me, I know them all! This waterfront park is absolutely stunning (and brings back great memories of nice summer days in Madison and venturing out on the ice of Lake Mendota in the winter). James Madison Park has a lovely concrete path, staircases, and greenery, giving you everything in one for your engagement session. Plus it's right near the Gates of Heaven church, which is one of the oldest churches in the entire country. It's charm is undeniable!
Tenney Park (you guessed it) is yet another gorgeous spot to catch a sunset. But not only that, it's got picturesque photo locations from the many unique bridges to the stroll out into Lake Mendota at the Tenney Locks. It's great year round, offering a beach to take a dip or an ice skating location on the lake (if you're willing, I'm willing!).
Last but certainly not least, is Picnic Point. About a mile down the Lakeshore Path and along the south shore of Lake Mendota is this Madison gem. Also offering distant views of the capitol, wooded paths, and green grass, you can't go wrong if you pick this location for your engagement session. It's gorgeous and colorful in the fall with all of the changing trees, and it's calming and minimal in the winter, with miles and miles of ice on all sides.