Enewsletter Sign-up

Things to Do

Make Summer Memories in Madison
If you love lakes, you'll love Madison in summer! Madison's five lakes cover more than 15,000 acres and our scenic downtown is surrounded by lakes Mendota and Monona. Our numerous launch sites provide easy access, and Skipper Bud's and other watercraft specialists allow you to rent boats, kayaks, canoes and more. New this year, you can even rent pontoons at Brittingham Boats!


Beyond being on the lakes, there are also plenty of places for relaxing on beachestrails for biking and walking, and lots of waterfront dining options. For trails with a lake view, rent a bike at Machinery Row Bicycles and make your way around John Nolen Drive. Make a stop at Monona Terrace, home to Concerts on the Rooftop and Lake Vista Café, with sprawling views of Lake Monona.


A great family option is Vilas Beach, located on Lake Wingra and just steps away from the free Henry Vilas Zoo. Watch the kids build sandcastles and wade in the water. Then, make your way to the zoo (just across the street) and see more than 800 animals, including a primates exhibit, the new lion at the big cat complex, and tropical rainforest aviary.


You won't want to miss the scenic UW-Madison Lakeshore Path. It's easy to rent a bike through the Madison B-Cycle share program, which has 35 stations around town, and head to Memorial Union Terrace, with its brightly colored chairs, local brews, and a picturesque view of Lake Mendota. Grab a brat or slice of pizza and relax to music five nights a week! 


Summer Staples
The Dane County Farmer's Market is a local favorite and a summer must for any traveler. Grab your reusable grocery bag and visit the nation's largest producers-only market on Saturday mornings, where you'll find more than 170 sellers who love to share the stories behind your food. While there, take the free Capitol tour or shop and dine your way down State Street. Many other Madison-area markets are also open throughout the week, including the Thursday afternoon market in Fitchburg and the Sunday market in Monona.


Another summer staple is Concerts on the Square, a Madison tradition since 1983. Pack a picnic and pick a spot on the Capitol Square lawn for music from the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. Afterwards, grab some ice cream at Kilwins on State Street, or a nightcap at Capital Tap Haus.


In the News
This August, Cave of the Mounds is celebrating 75 years as a national landmark. This amazing attraction is home to colorful crystal formations, and hiking and biking trails. At a consistent 50 degrees, it's a cool reprieve from hot summer days! Take in the stunning rock and mineral formations underground, mine for gemstones at the watering hole, and search for sinkholes on the trail.


This fall will mark ten years since Overture Center for the Arts first opened its doors. In celebration of this occasion, you can enjoy a variety of outstanding shows, including The Book of Mormon and Fiddler on the Roof. Check out the Overture Center's blockbuster 2014-15 schedule


The Madison Central Library was recently named the Public Works Project of the Year by the American Public Works Association! With comfy reading lounges, an art gallery, and an outdoor terrace, it's fantastic (and free!) fun for families. While there, check out the Bubbler, a new program offering workshops on topics such as animation, screen printing, music, and clothing design (to name a few).