With (some) snow on the ground and the lakes frozen over, winter has officially arrived in Madison. It's time for ice fishing, ice skating, skiing, sledding and scenic walks across our beautiful frozen lakes.

Best of all, these activities are free or low cost – and available to do all over the greater Madison area on Lake Monona, Lake Mendota, Lake Wingra and beyond. Take advantage of this year’s ultra-clear ice and amazing conditions to make new winter memories with your friends and family.

Safety first: Before heading outside or onto the ice, dress warmly, wear sturdy boots, and always check the weather and ice conditions. Kids should always be supervised by a parent or guardian.

1. Stop! Shanty time

Go ice fishing. Or check out the quaint ice fisher shanties that dot the lakes. (Rent ice fishing gear at Warner Park on Madison’s north side.)


2. Views, baby!

Get a totally different view of iconic Madison spots. Picnic Point? Monona Terrace? It all feels magical.


3. Ice boating... is a thing

Watch ice boats gracefully sail across the frozen lakes.


4. Really, really good for the 'gram

Take some ridiculously beautiful winter photography.

Bonus points if you spot Madison’s resident Snowy Owl. 


5. Blow off some steam

Let the kids enjoy a playground made of ice. Or take your pet out to discover a whole new world.


6. Take a new bike route

Bike on ice!

@ovjphotography Could this be more Madison? #madisonwi #wisconsinphotographer #onlyinwisconsin ♬ TO THE MOON - Jnr Choi


7. Make it a Minication

Stay indoors and enjoy the view. Book a discounted stay at a hotel on the lake for incredible views and easy-ice access. Choose from 16 different hotels for your trip in February with a Madison Minication – book now!


8. Festivals... on ice

Enjoy frozen festivals on Lake Mendota. There’s Frozen Assets on Feb. 5 – 6 and the Wisconsin Union’s Winter Carnival on Feb. 7 – 12 with ice activities, kites and more.


9. Icy & Artsy 

Keep an eye out for art installations and surprises. Last year brought sculptures and a forest of trees to the middle of the lake. This year, How Lovely Labyrinth takes over Olbrich Park.


10. Walk on (frozen) water

Walk on (frozen) water. Make a journey across Lake Mendota or Lake Monona for an epic day of ice hiking. Popular entrance points include Olin Park boat launch, Olbrich Park, Warner Park, Memorial Union Terrace and Morrison Park.


11. Grab skates and go

Go ice skating on some of the smoothest, clearest ice in Madison in over two decades.


Rather stay on solid ground?

Take in the frozen lake views from popular green spaces including:

Round out your visit to Madison with a warm meal in one of our cozy restaurants.

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