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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Monday, June 24, 2024
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People sit on the lawn of the Capitol building during the Dane County Farmer's Market on April 13, 2024.

Visiting Madison in the summer? Here’s where to spend your day

Wondering how to spend your time in Madison this summer? Look no further: The Daily Cardinal shares places and activities for anyone to enjoy.

With the spring semester coming to a close, Madison's beautiful summer season begins. 

Full of boating, lakefront paths, restaurants and farmers markets, there is something for everyone. Madison's summer agenda is packed with activities offering residents and visitors an assortment of experiences to enjoy under the sun.

Many students spend their summers in town, but many go home as well,  leaving campus a bit more open and relaxed. 

When coming for University of Wisconsin-Madison’s SOAR in June with my mom, we left wishing we had planned more activities for our stay, as we fell in love with not only the campus, but the city itself. 

Looking back, I would’ve appreciated a list of personal recommendations from a student attending Madison, so I decided to make one myself. I outlined a few of my favorite summer activities and places in Madison. Not only for SOAR families, but for everyone looking to broaden their horizons and experience the best of Madison. 


Picnic Point

Picnic Point is a beautiful lookout point about two and a half miles from Memorial Union along Lakeshore Path. Whether you love nature, want to get active or simply want to explore, this is the place for you. 

I love running the path to Picnic Point with a friend — the trail is well kept, flat and beautiful. Many people walk or bring food for a picnic. 

The scenery is gorgeous. The water is blue and calming, greenery is all around, and birds are chirping. It feels like an escape from reality. With many benches available to take in the views, you’ll forget you’re in a city. Small beaches and bonfire areas are also available along the trail for public use. 

Boating and lake life

Madison is home to five lakes: Mendota, Monona, Wingra, Kegonsa and Waubesa. UW-Madison sits on the serene Lake Mendota, but it is also walking distance to Lake Monona. 

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Memorial Union sits on the waters of Lake Mendota with many docks and open seating areas for students and visitors to enjoy. It is truly a gem. 

If you are looking to rent a boat or kayak, Lake Monona will be the lake for you. There are many rental places available, but I recommend checking out Brittingham Boats located in downtown Madison to get started.

Dane County Farmers’ Market 

If you are in town on a Saturday, this farmers market is a must. It is the “country’s largest producer-only farmers market,” and it surrounds the state Capitol, only about a 10-15 minute walk from campus. Enjoy fresh produce, flowers and more.


Vintage Spirits & Grill

Vintage is the perfect place to go to experience Madison's nightlife in a relaxed manner. If you are looking for a place with great food, drinks, a vibrant atmosphere and plenty of outdoor seating, Vintage is the place to be.


Hungry for pizza? Lucille’s modern, welcoming environment offers wonderful drinks and food, specifically wood fired pizzas. Book a reservation ahead of time, as this place gets packed in the summer.

Der Rathskeller

Want a quick bite directly on campus? Check out Der Rathskeller located in Memorial Union. The menu offers something for everyone, from sandwiches to salads. Get your food to go or enjoy it overlooking the lake. I love the chicken caesar salad wrap. It is the perfect lunch option. 

Eno Vino

If you are looking for a formal, upscale dining experience, check out Eno Vino. This rooftop wine bar serves ‘fresh inviting’ food and drinks. This is a great place to go if you want to put on your favorite outfit and hit the town.

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