Madison is a place where you can always find outdoor adventure—and winter is no exception. Frozen lakes and stunning landscapes set the scene for so many ways to get active, you’ll have to create a cold-weather calendar to make sure you have a chance to try them all.
1. Take a winter walk
The UW-Madison Arboretum offers a series of winter walks exploring the most active parts of its 20 miles of trails. These peaceful, educational events focus on the calls of owls, finding patterns in winter trees, looking for animal tracks and stargazing.
2. Fish our frozen lakes
If you have a Wisconsin fishing license—and enough layers to live up to the winter weather—you can fish for bluegills, perch, pike and more. You can even find clinics for kids that teach techniques, safety skills and an early love for fishing Madison’s five lakes.
3. Sled our steepest hills
Elver Park is Madison’s biggest at 227 acres—and it also has the steepest sledding hill. But there are tons of hills to try on your next snowy trip, including some with heart-stopping drops and classics like Bascom Hill on the UW-Madison campus. (Not traveling with a sled? Rumor has it that the students use cafeteria trays!)
4. Trade in your tires
Winter doesn’t put a damper on Madison’s cycling culture so you’re sure to see fat-tire bikes throughout the city—and on the trails, too. (Some say the bike paths get plowed before the streets!) In addition to being featured in several winter festivals, many bike rental shops now offer fat-tire bikes to anyone willing to try.
5. Hit the slopes
Visitors from all over the Midwest enjoy exhilarating rides down one of the highest mountains in Wisconsin at Devil’s Head Resort, nestled in the heart of the glacier-formed Baraboo Bluffs. This resort features exceptional snowmaking and grooming for its 30 different ski and snowboarding runs.
6. Go by kite…
True thrill seekers will want to try snowkiting, an exhilarating experience where you strap on skis or a snowboard, attach yourself to a kite and go for a ride on the lake, sometimes at a rate of up to 60 miles per hour! UW Hoofers has an entire fleet of equipment for members to rent, and lessons to get you started.
7. …or by candlelight
Meander through Dane County trails by ski or snowshoe—and the soft glow of candles. Each year, there are multiple events featuring a chance to hike, ski and snowshoe on trails lit by hundreds of luminaries. Cap off the night next to a warming fire, while you sip cocoa and roast marshmallows for s’mores.
8. Groove and glide
Everything is more magical “under the lights” and this night-skating series of events is no exception. Groove & Glide events take place at Vilas, Tenney and Elver Parks—and all are free to the public. If the weather isn’t cooperating, there’s always ice at The Edgewater. Their outdoor, lakeside rink has been compared to the one at Rockefeller Center!