There’s nothing like a sunny day to enjoy water the Madison way. Swim, sail or paddle through 15,000 acres of lakes. Delight in delicious dining or relax lakeside while the sparkling water unfolds before you.
Whether you’ve brought your own boat, or just want to rent, there’s an option for everyone to get out on the water. Looking to rent? Marshall Boats and Madison School & Community Recreation offer pontoon rentals on Lake Mendota, and SkipperBud’s offers a wide selection to suit your needs.
Pull up from the water to enjoy a meal, or simply savor the scenery of a waterfront eatery.
A pair of iconic Madison buildings feature food and wonderful waterfront views. The Lake Vista Café, atop the Monona Terrace, treats you to local specialties and sweeping views of Lake Monona. On the UW campus, the historic Memorial Union offers options ranging from local ice cream to a German beer hall.
Brunch lovers should head to Nau-ti-Gal, where one of Madison’s best brunches meets waterfront views at the tip of the Yahara River. Of course, there’s also seafood to be had along our lakes’ shores. Sardine is a local favorite with a unique oyster happy hour in Madison’s historic Machinery Row.
Stay on the shores of Lake Monona for a long-standing Italian icon. Paisan’s Restaurant has served some of Madison’s favorite Italian food for more than 50 years and offers a gorgeous glimpse of Lake Monona.
After a day on the water, soak in the sunset at Mariner’s Inn, a Madison staple, known for serving superb steak and seafood for more than five decades.
Not looking for a full meal? The Biergarten at Olbrich Park offers cold beer, tasty snacks and breathtaking views of the downtown skyline from the shores of Lake Monona.
Active living is at the heart of Madison. Why not take it to the water? Brittingham Boats on Lake Monona or Wingra Boats on Lake Wingra rent kayaks, paddle boards, canoes, row boats, paddle boats or sailboats. For a unique challenge, rent the Mega-SUP — a stand-up paddleboard for up to eight people — for extreme fun.
Outdoor UW offers paddle-craft rentals and even conducts group yoga classes atop paddleboards. Keep the fun rolling with Madison Log Rolling. This is your chance to take a step back into Wisconsin’s lumberjack lineage and stake your claim as a “river pig.”
The waters that surround Madison’s iconic isthmus are ripe for fishing fanatics. Five lakes provide diverse fishing spots for enthusiasts and beginners alike. Bass, musky, crappie and more are waiting for you.
You don’t even have to be on a boat. Fish at James Madison Park, on the shores of Lake Mendota, or one of Madison’s other beautiful lakeside parks.
Want to take your fishing experience to the next level? Join Joe Okada — a professional angler and captain of Madison Fishing Charters — for an exceptional voyage.