As the city with five lakes and one of only two cities in the U.S. on an isthmus, getting on the water is an absolute must-do when you visit Madison. Several local businesses in the capital city have made it easy for anyone to access the lakes. That means you don't need to bring any boating equipment with you when you take a trip to Madison. There are visitor-friendly rental services for anything that floats including kayaks, canoes, pontoons, stand-up paddleboards, giant duck-shaped pedal boats and more. 

If you're new to lake life, the staff at our local boat rental facilities are ready to help. The expert staff know the lakes inside and out and are happy to help launch you into the water and ensure you land back on shore safely. 

Consider this your official guide to boat rentals in Madison, organized for you based on where you want to explore. 


Downtown

Brittingham Boats

For the best views of the Madison skyline, you need to rent a watercraft from Brittingham Boats, one of Madison Boats' four locations. Located in Brittingham Park, this boat rental station has kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddleboards, paddle boats and fishing boats available for rent on the shore of Monona Bay. Paddle out from the bay into Lake Monona and you will be welcomed with a view of Madison's iconic skyline including Monona Terrace and the Wisconsin State Capitol building.

In the summer, head out to Brittingham Boats for Burgers on the Bay where you can listen to live music and grab dinner from the burger barge. 

All Madison Boats locations are open seasonally depending on weather. Locations typically open in April and remain open through September.

Pontoon Rentals at The Edgewater

Grab your favorite group of people and head out for a relaxing night on the water with pontoon rentals from Madison Boats at The Edgewater.

Choose between a two-hour or five-hour rental for up to 10 people. Each rental comes with a captain so you and your crew can sit back and relax. Top off your ride with food and drink from the Edgewater's Boathouse which you can order ahead of time for it to be ready to bring on the boat with you. 

You do not have to stay at The Edgewater to book a pontoon, however we highly recommend you do! The Edgewater was named the Best Historic Hotel in America in 2023 and has a host of incredible amenities, including a full spa.

All Madison Boats locations are open seasonally depending on weather. Locations typically open in April and remain open through September


On Campus

Outdoor UW at Memorial Union Terrace

Hanging out at Memorial Union Terrace is one of Madison's must-do experiences. The campus hotspot that's open to everyone is known for its iconic sunburst chairs, but many don't know you can grab a different kind of seat at the terrace: the seat of a kayak, canoe or paddleboard. Outdoor UW has a convenient boat rental system at the terrace that lets you paddle in the sunshine or take a float in the evening as you enjoy live music playing from shore. 

Paddling season is dependent on weather. Rentals are typically available beginning in May. Check the Outdoor UW website for updates.


Lake Wingra

Wingra Boats

Madison's small no-wake lake is the perfect place for family fun, made easy by rentals from Wingra Boats. The Lake Wingra rental hub is known for having one of the greatest variety of rental options including kayaks, canoes, row boats, stand-up paddleboards, water mats and the beloved duck- and swan-shaped paddle boats. These options appeal to experienced and novice lake lovers.

Lake Wingra's proximity to Vilas Beach and the free Henry Vilas Zoo makes it a perfect part of a family-friendly trip to Madison.

All Madison Boats locations are open seasonally depending on weather. Locations typically open in April and remain open through September.


East 

Rutabaga at Olbrich Biergarten

A day on the lake followed by an ice-cold beer is the definition of Wisconsin summertime vibes. This is a quintessential experience you can enjoy in Madison without bringing any of the equipment (or beer) with you. Rutabaga Paddlesports offers kayak, canoe and paddleboard rentals at Olbrich Biergarten, a favorite summertime hangout, on the shores of Lake Monona. 

This rental spot is just a quick paddle to the entrance of Starkweather Creek which you can take through Olbrich Botanical Gardens and see incredible views of the landscape and Thai Pavilion. 

Rutabaga offers rentals seasonally depending on weather. Please check their website for seasonal updates.


Middleton

Marshall Boats

Marshall Boats in Middleton offers boat rentals with nearby access to some of the area's most esteemed parks. This location has paddling routes that lead you to Spring Harbor Beach Park, Pheasant Branch Conservancy or Governor Nelson State Park via kayak, canoe or stand-up paddleboard. This is a great spot to for the ultimate outdoor enthusiast. Note: the Pheasant Branch and Governor Nelson routes are recommended for experienced paddlers.

For fishers, Marshall offers 2022 Bass Tracker Classic XL fishing boat rentals equipped with fish finders, livewells, trolling motors and rod storage.

And those looking for a breezy lake day can rent a pontoon with or without a captain. Pontoons are available to fit up to eight or 12 people depending on the model. 

All Madison Boats locations are open seasonally depending on weather. Locations typically open in April and remain open through September.