5 Summer Hot Spots to Explore in Madison

With a full calendar of festivals, live music every night of the week and dozens of activities packed between the isthmus, summer in Madison is truly something special! Whether you’re looking for lakeside dining, or to take in the city from unique views like Capitol Observation Deck or the Olbrich Biergarten, there’s something for everyone in Madison. Here are some activities you cannot miss.

Dane County Farmers’ Market

Madison is home to the Dane County Farmers’ Market, the largest producer-only market in the country. Find it Saturday morning, circling the entire Capitol Square.

Featuring over 300 vendors throughout the year, DCFM is the best place for locals and visitors to stock up on fresh veggies, produce, flowers, baked goods, cheese and more. The Saturday morning tradition also draws local artists, food carts and musicians to the Capitol, creating a festival-like feel you won’t want to miss.

Concerts on the Square

Pair classical music with a picnic for a perfect evening at Concerts on the Square, Wednesday nights in summer. Any time after 3 p.m., visitors are welcome to lay down a blanket on the Capitol lawn to reserve their spots. Pick up some cheese or pre-made sandwiches at Fromagination, grab a bottle of wine and settle in for a relaxing night.

State Street

Strolling State Street, Madison’s popular pedestrian walkway, is a great activity any time of the day. The iconic corridor is filled with charm and character, and is home to hundreds of local businesses including shops, galleries and restaurants.

Mark your calendar for special events including the Madison Night Market, a recurring evening event showcasing handmade products, artisan gifts and live music. Other events not to miss: June’s Cars on State, where classic cars line the street, and July’s Maxwell Street Days, a street festival where stores offer deep discounts on their inventory. It’s the perfect time to treat yourself!

Memorial Union Terrace

Filled with colorful tables and the iconic starburst chairs, the Memorial Union Terrace, Madison’s lakeside patio, is a popular hangout for UW students, alumni and any visitor to Madison.

Stop by for a scoop of Babcock ice cream (made on the UW campus) after a walk on the Lakeshore Path, or spend an evening outdoors listening to live music, open mic or an outdoor movie.You’ll find Wisconsin favorites including brats, corn on the cob and local beer at the Brat Stand. Bring a deck of cards or a board game… and your camera! The Terrace is one of the best places in town to enjoy a summer sunset.

Brittingham Boats

No visit to Madison is complete without some time on the water! Renting a kayak, canoe or paddle board is easy at Brittingham Boats, located on Monona Bay. Paddle out onto Lake Monona to take in unique views of the Capitol and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Monona Terrace. Want to be chauffeured? Madison School Community & Recreation also hosts drop-in pontoon rides, launching from Tenney Park on Lake Mendota.

Want to add more to your summer itinerary? Check out visitmadison.com.