The Best Things to Do During the Summer in Madison, Wisconsin

Memorial Union Terrace
Memorial Union Terrace | © Richard Hurd / Flickr

Warm summer days and nights make memories of the cold Wisconsin winter melt away. With lots of lakeshore and a vibrant community, Madison has no shortage of summer activities. Whether visiting the local farmers’ market or soaking up the sun on a nature hike, be sure not to miss out on these top things to do in Wisconsin’s capital this summer.

Visit the Dane County Farmers’ Market

Madison’s local farmers’ market is one of the best in the state. Saturday on the Square is an event that takes place weekly throughout the summer season in the State Capitol square. Items available at the market include bakery treats, fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and more. It’s a great place to get some shopping done and enjoy the fresh air while also supporting the local economy.

Dane County Farmer’s Market

Listen to concerts on the square

Music fans can delight in the sounds of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra on Wednesday evenings throughout the summer with the orchestra’s six-part summer concert series. Concerts on the Square take place on the lawn of the State Capitol building, so don’t forget to pack a blanket to sit on!

Concerts on the Square

Stroll from Capitol to Bascom Hill

A visit to State Street is a Madison-must at any time of year, but the walk from the Wisconsin State Capitol building to the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus is even more enjoyable in the summertime. Check out some of the most unique shops and restaurants in the city along the way and stop to relax on Bascom Hill before embarking on the hike to the top.

State Street

Have a BBQ at Picnic Point

Picnic Point is the perfect spot to get away from it all. While actually quite close to the UW-Madison campus, the Lake Mendota peninsula is the most popular part of the Lakeshore Nature Preserve. Not only can visitors picnic at this spot, but boating and hiking are also popular activities. The area also has a reputation for being one of the most romantic places in the city.

Picnic Point

Visit the Henry Vilas Zoo

With one of the best zoos in the state being open to the public free of charge, there is really no excuse not to visit the Henry Vilas Zoo in the summer. Exotic birds, jungle cats, and polar bears are just a few of the animals that you’ll be able to get up close and personal with.

Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison

Explore the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum

Many summer days can be spent getting in touch with nature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum. Located just four miles from the university campus, this sprawling 1,260 acre area includes nearly 20 miles worth of hiking trails and three miles of bike path just waiting to be explored.

University of Wisconsin – Madison Arboretum

Relax at the Memorial Union Terrace

The Memorial Union Terrace overlooking the banks of Lake Mendota has been a popular outdoor spot for students and locals to unwind since the 1920s. Grab some food and drinks, and enjoy one of the many events taking place here throughout the summer or simply bask in the beauty of the sunset over the lake.

Sunset at Memorial Union Terrace

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