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Tour of Madison

The Annual Fall Driving Tour, since 1951

Join a free tour of the city of Madison by car and spend some time at an America home for snacks and conversation

Welcome UW-Madison Internationals!

Come explore the city of Madison and meet new friends!

Every fall, Badger Internationals hosts a tour of Madison where you get to ride around the city with an American driver and guide. Afterwards, you will enjoy a reception at an American home with snacks and opportunity for more discussion. The entire tour is free! Bring your curiosity, and invite your friends to come as well!

Orientation for the tour begins on campus, where you will meet other internationals and your American driver and guide. You will then ride in their vehicle around the city of Madison to see various sights and landmarks. The tour includes famous sights like the Governor’s Mansion and Olbrich Gardens.

After the tour, you will join several other tour groups at an American home where you can enjoy some snacks and drinks. It is a wonderful opportunity for you to ask the drivers and hosts more questions about Madison and life in the United States. We also encourage that exchange contact information so that you can communicate during your stay in Madison. The American volunteers will love to help answer any questions and respond to any needs you may have during your stay in Madison.

Following the reception, the driver and guide will take you back to campus.

If you have any questions, comments, or feedback, please email us.

Date and Time for 2023

Sunday, September 3, 2023 1:30pm-6pm

Engineering Hall

1415 Engineering Drive

Please arrive before your scheduled time to ensure you are able to join the tour! Also, you must register before the day of the event.

Tour Itinerary:

  • 1:15 - 2:00 PM Volunteer orientation and training

  • 1:45 - 2:00 PM International student arrival and check-in

  • 2:00 - 2:30 PM Orientation, and connect with your community volunteer driver and tour guide

  • 2:30 - 4:45 PM Driving Tour of the City of Madison. See important landmarks, scenic parks and neighborhoods of Madison by car.

  • 4:45 - 5:45 PM Enjoy an hour with your new friends in the home of an American family. A light snack will be provided

  • 5:45 - 6:15 PM Return to the UW campus

How to Register for 2023

The Tour of Madison 2023 is done! We're so excited for the turnout this year. Thank you to the 250 international friends and 170 volunteers who participated! Please keep in touch, and stay tuned for more Badger Internationals events, and the Tour of Madison 2024!

Where to Meet

Engineering Hall

1415 Engineering Drive

Walk, take the bus, or drive to the Engineering hall for the start of the tour. You will see signs and volunteers indicating where to check in. If you drive, parking will be $5 in Lot 17 due to the UW Volleyball game taking place nearby. Other parking options are Union South, Lot 56 , Lot 45.

Tour Route

The Tour covers approximately 20 miles and will take about an hour of driving time. Time permitting, we stop by iconic Madison sights that would normally be difficult to reach without a car. During the tour, your guides will have information to share about the history and culture of Madison.

Volunteer Information

Deadline to register as a volunteer is August 21, 2023. If your spouse or friends plan to volunteer, you each need to register separately.

If you have any questions, please contact us at email us.

Volunteer Roles

  • DRIVER – (1:15 – 6:15 PM)
  • READER – who reads a script while another person drives (1:15 – 6:15 PM)
  • BACK-UP DRIVER/READER – who will be notified a day or two before the Tour, depending on the number of student registrations (1:15 – 6:15 PM)
  • HOST HOME – open up your home and provide a light snack to 20 – 30 people at the end of the Tour (4:00 – 6:00 PM)
  • REGISTRATION ASSISTANT – welcome the students and other volunteers as they arrive (12:45 – 3:15 PM)
  • WHERE MOST NEEDED – you are willing to fill any role, wherever the help is most needed for the event.

Drivers and Readers

You are the main connection between the international students and the Tour of Madison. Your goal is to be a great host to our international friends as you introduce them to Madison.

Make sure to exchange contact information with the riders in your car. We will provide some notecards during training/orientation. We encourage you to stay in touch with your riders through the time they will be in Madison. Often times, they will be here for multiple years, and your friendship can make an incredible difference in their lives, especially given they are thousands of miles from home. Consider inviting them out to coffee, tea, or dinner periodically to see how they are doing. A monthly email to check in goes an incredibly long way.

Host Homes

You will be providing our international friends with what will most likely be their first experience of an American home. We want to be warm, welcoming, and courteous to our guests. They will be very interested in learning about you, your life, and your family, and we encourage you to learn about them as well. Feel free to exchange contact information and stay in touch with our international friends. You can even invite them to visit your home again some time. It’s a wonderful way to give our friends a break from their studies and research.

As the host home, it will be your responsibility to provide snacks and drinks for the drivers, readers, and international friends. You don’t have to do it all yourself; you can work with friends to help prepare food and drinks for the reception. Some friends can also help act as hosts/conversationalists as well. If you are part of a small group at church, this is a wonderful opportunity to team up as a group to serve our international friends.

Registration Assistants

You will welcoming our international friends as they arrive for the event and helping with the registration process. Be ready to give a warm welcome, and also be ready to do “odd jobs” as we quickly take in hundreds of international friends and volunteers and direct them to the appropriate rooms and cars.

As a registration assistant, we recommend that you do not also serve as a driver nor reader. It is difficult to work out the timing so that things go smoothly. It is possible that you assist at a host home since you will have time to get from registration to the home before the driving tour is done. We do not recommend that you try to be the point person for hosting a home, but your spouse or friend can be the point person instead.

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