If you’re staying close to downtown and are looking for a quick jaunt outdoors, take a walk, jog or run around the Capitol Square. These four blocks equate to approximately half a mile, so it’s easy to calculate just how far you’ve gone. Add some intensity by climbing the Capitol steps—perhaps all the way to the sixth floor Observation Deck, which has some of the best views of Madison.
Picnic Point might sound like a great place to have lunch (which it is), but it’s also a scenic trail in the heart of the UW-Madison campus. Park your car at the entrance and walk straight to the point, taking in the views of Lake Mendota, campus and the city skyline. On your way back, hug the north side for a different view and keep an eye out for wildlife—this is a popular birding spot.
The Monona Bay loop is a convenient and beautiful run that clocks in at three miles. Park at Olin Turville Park, run down John Nolen Drive and catch more than a glimpse of downtown Madison and the State Capitol. Then, veer left onto Shore Drive, and loop around Brittingham Bay back to Olin Park.
If you want to get your daily 10,000 steps in one shot, visit the UW-Madison Arboretum. The area has more than 20 miles of trails, although a favorite among locals is the 6.1 loop affectionately called the “Arb Loop.” This run takes you through fields and wooded areas, past the zoo and near Lake Wingra.