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In summer, it’s easy to see why Madison is ranked as one of the best places to live. Between our award-winning trail systems, easy access to our fresh water lakes and a culture that embraces the outdoors, there are plenty of reasons to dive into summer with a visit to Madison!

Stand Up Paddleboarding, Monona Terrace
© Focal Flame Photography

© Focal Flame Photography

 

WATER SPORTS

One brilliant way to spend a sun-kissed day is boating on one of Madison’s five area lakes. Our two largest, Mendota and Monona, are in the center of the city, and cruises and boat rentals are available as soon as the weather warms. Because our lakes are generally calm, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking and canoeing are also popular. After a day on the lake, take in a sunset while dining at one of our waterfront restaurants—you can choose from a variety of cuisines (and lakes)!

Picnic Point Trail
© Emily Mills

© Emily Mills

 

HIKING AND BIKING

Cycle through Madison’s biking and hiking accolades and you’ll find endless reasons why Madison is one of the nation’s best. From our designation as a “platinum” biking community to the more than 200 miles of trails available, there are numerous reasons why you should plan a getaway in Madison. Plus you can tool around town on a bike easily with the help of BCycle, a rental company with 40 stations throughout Madison.

Recent Rankings

Biking Around the Capitol

Best City on Earth for Biking

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#3 Top 10 Healthiest Cities

#3 Top Healthiest City

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Picnic at the Capitol

Platinum Status

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Boy on Bike

#13 Top 50 Bike-Friendly Cities

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#4 Best US Cycling Town

#4 Best Cycling Town

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Paddle and Portage
© Ben Brewer

© Ben Brewer

 

ACTIVE EVENTS

Madison’s love for the outdoors is exemplified through the city’s calendar of events, which is booked solid in summer. One of our most well-known is Paddle and Portage, a treat for participants and spectators. Paddlers dress in costume, go across lakes Mendota and Monona, and portage past the Capitol and Dane County Farmers’ Market. Another favorite is Shake the Lake, a day filled with live music, food, family activities and Wisconsin’s largest fireworks display.

Family Fun at Henry Vilas Zoo
© Focal Flame Photography

© Focal Flame Photography

 

FAMILY FUN

Madison’s family-friendly attractions are perfect for a summertime visit—your kids will love the fresh air fun and you’ll love seeing their smiling faces! Start at the Henry Vilas Zoo, where admission is free and the exhibits are interactive. The zoo added the Arctic Passage in 2015, which houses polar bears, grizzly bears and harbor seals. For sporty families, there’s Madison Mallards collegiate baseball or the Madison Radicals Ultimate Disc League. Other outdoor options include the Madison Children’s Museum’s rooftop garden, Vitense Golfland’s mini-golf courses and Olbrich Botanical Gardens’ open spaces and beautiful natural displays.

Fishing on Lake Monona
© TNT Creative Studios

© TNT Creative Studios

 

FISHING SPOTS

There are plenty of reasons to cast a line in Madison! For starters—more than 15,000 acres of lakes surround Greater Madison. Divide that by five lakes, and you have many fishing spots to tackle. Plus, with shoreline fishing, knowledgeable guides and numerous boat launches, there are plenty of ways to fresh water fish in Madison!

Memorial Union Terrace
© Richard Hurd

© Richard Hurd

 

REST & RELAXATION

When it’s time to slow down and relax a bit, Madison has many perfect places to unwind. You could choose the recently renovated Memorial Union Terrace, with its brightly colored chairs, live music Thursday through Sunday, and unbeatable views of Lake Mendota, or Monona Terrace, with dances in June and July, a rooftop café and stunning views of Lake Monona. Another option is the UW-Madison Arboretum, which will supply you with natural beauty—whether during a daytime jaunt or moonlight stroll.

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Below is a sampling of submissions of fresh-air fun outdoors and on our lakes. Follow us on Facebook or Instragram to see more adventurous ideas and to share your time in Madison with us!

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SUP Paddleboarding Monona Terrace


Our city is well suited for some lake fun--so get out there this weekend! (Photo: Focal Flame Photography).
Madison is one of only two U.S. cities on an isthmus, which means we’re tops when it comes to topography! Not only is our downtown situated between two sparkling lakes, the 1/2 mile in-between is THE place where activity...

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