Your visit to Greater Madison may include time on the golf course, but there’s also a range of other adventures to explore! Below is a “short course” of summer activities in Madison, sure to get you off the green and into the local scene.
Water (without the) hazard
Madison was built around water—in fact, our downtown sits on an isthmus between lakes Mendota and Monona. Spending time on and in our lakes is part of summer life here in Madison, whether you want to try a new sport (yoga on a stand-up paddleboard?) or simply want to relax on the beach. Plus, there are many options for boat rentals and launch sites.
Shop for your own green jacket
Locals love this pedestrian walkway—which connects the Capitol building to the UW-Madison campus—because of its eclectic shops and renowned restaurants. One visit to State Street in downtown Madison and you’ll have a better understanding of the city’s character and charm. The area is also home to a variety of museums and galleries, performance venues and more.
A good walk not spoiled
Strolling the Capitol Square during the Dane County Farmers’ Market is a Saturday morning ritual for both locals and visitors. Just make sure to “make the turn” at each corner correctly—everyone walks counter-clockwise. Our farmers’ market happens to be the nation’s largest, producer-only market in the nation. While downtown, be sure to take a free Capitol building tour and check out the observation deck!
Bike the fairway
Navigating Madison’s fairways (city streets and natural trails) is easy! Madison is the unofficial bike capital of the Midwest and boasts more bikes than cars. Tour with the help of BCycle, our urban bike-sharing program, which has 39 stations across the city. There are also numerous trails for both road riders and mountain bikers who want to spin their wheels on rough terrain a little longer.
Above par music
There are many opportunities to hear live music in Madison during the summer! Pull up a sunburst chair at the Memorial Union Terrace on the UW-Madison campus almost any night of the week and listen to live music, or find yourself at Monona Terrace, which combines music with stunning city views and an outdoor café. Concerts on the Square is also a community favorite—pack a picnic, spread a blanket on the Capitol lawn and relax to the sounds of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra.
Beyond birdies and eagles
The Henry Vilas Zoo is one of only a few admission-free zoos in the country—and the perfect place to spend a summer day! Don’t miss the zoo’s Arctic Passage, home to black bears, polar bears and harbor seals. Grab a bite to eat at the Glacier Grille—the only indoor restaurant in the U.S. that’s integrated into a polar bear exhibit!
Top of the fish fry leaderboard
Madison Fridays aren’t the only day you can find a classic fish fry in Madison. Restaurants across the city pride themselves on both traditional and new versions of fried and baked fish. Don’t forget to order cheese curds and a local brew on the side!
Hit the green
Golf’s not the only sport with green grass and long drives! A night out at a Madison Mallards baseball game is an inexpensive way to spend the evening—from the food to the sideline activities for kids. Minor league baseball doesn’t get much better than a night at the Duck Pond!