289 fun things to do this summer
Jump right in to make the most of the season
Choose your own adventure
Flock with local Francophiles to La Fête de Marquette for French-flavored music and food. July 12-15
Hunt for sweet deals at State Street’s version of the Chicago urban bazaar, the Maxwell Street Days Summer Sidewalk Sale. July 20-22
Take Frisbee to the next level with disc golf at Elver and Hiestand Parks.
Check out the latest summer blockbusters at AMC Madison 6, Marcus Point or Flix Brewhouse. Popcorn, please!
Rock climb, blaze trails, swim and picnic on a day trip to beautiful Devil’s Lake State Park.
Perfect your tacking technique with lessons from the Hoofer Sailing Club.
Take your money and run to Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society’s performances of Toy Stories. June 8-24
Uncover and explore city highlights and hidden gems on a driving tour with Madison City Tours.
Paddle & Portage around the isthmus in this epic canoe challenge. June 16
Compete in boat races and competitions in the Hoofers Commodore’s Cup challenge. July 11-21
Set sail with the Lake Monona Sailing Club and its weekly sailing races.
Give our lakes some love: Kayak, canoe or stand-up paddleboard during Paddle for a Purpose. Every Monday from 4-8 p.m., 20 percent of rental fees at Marshall Boats, Wingra Boats and Brittingham Boats will go to the Clean Lakes Alliance.
Cheer on the Iron men and women in the annual Ironman Wisconsin triathlon. Sept. 9
Time to chill
Bask in a Picnic Point sunset after walking the Lakeshore Path.
Mist off the kids at a splash park either at Cypress, Reindahl and Elver.
Bring a ball for a pickup basketball game on the James Madison Park courts.
Spend a lazy afternoon in Albany, Wisconsin, tubing down the Sugar River.
Cool off after the Dane County Farmers’ Market with a free Madison Symphony Orchestra organ concert in Overture Hall. *Due to the servicing of the organ, there will be no performances in 2018.
Tour Wollersheim Winery in Prairie du Sac and relax afterward with a glass of Prairie Fume in the garden.
Sample summer cocktails and treats with Nau-Ti-Gal and Madison Magazine at the Top Shelf Summer Taste. August 6
Find a Little Free Library and pick up a book to borrow.
Disappear into the secret bier garden at the downtown Great Dane.
Check out Jpanese prints in the time-honored tradition of Hokusai and Hiroshige at the Chazen Museum of Art’s Watanabe: Japanese Print Envoy exhibit. Through Sept. 2
Unwind with your best furry friend at Prairie Moraine, Indian Lake, Token Creek or another off-leash county dog park.
Treat yourself to gelato at Villa Dolce.
Paddle around and create the perfect sundae at Lake Wingra’s Ice Cream Boat Float. June 8, July 12, August 17
Attempt to find Madison’s tastiest milkshake–will it be at Mickies, DLUX, Dotty’s, Monty’s or another sweet spot?
Show off the city
Take over city streets with fellow bikers on Ride the Drive on the east side. June 3
Admire Dane County’s natural side from an aquatic point of view: Kayak the Yahara chain of lakes.
Wine, dine and tour the city from the water aboard Betty Lou Cruises.
Uncover the past by finding some of the city’s 182 historic landmarks.
Celebrate Madison’s local music scene at the Madison Area Music Awards. June 17
Browse State Street shops like Little Luxuries, Madison Modern Market, Tellus Mater and the Soap Opera for unique trinkets and specialty gifts.
Check out local businesses during the Madison Night Market. May 10, June 14, Aug. 9, Sept. 13
Enjoy classical music on the Memorial Union Terrace during Summer Serenades. July 1, July 15, July 26, Aug. 12, Aug. 26
Float over Dane County in a hot air balloon with Gentle Breezes balloon rides.
Dig into a plate of ribs on the surprisingly picturesque Brickhouse BBQ rooftop patio.
Taste everything from falafel to empanadas by grabbing lunch from one of the food carts scattered downtown.
Float around a campfire on the water at Brittingham Boats and Lake Wingra’s Full Moon Paddle. June 29, July 27, Aug. 24
Enjoy cocktails before a movie at AMC Madison 6’s MacGuffins Bar.
Find the constellations with UW Space Place stargazing in Garner Park.
End Fourth of July celebrations with a bang at Shake the Lake. June 23
Run under the stars at the Movin’ Shoes Full Moon 5K. July 26
Get crafty with late-night knitting at the Sow’s Ear in Verona. First and third Fridays of each month
Create your own bar crawl with Capitol Pedaler’s fourteen-seat big red bike.
Spend a day biking for beers on a Hop Head Brewery Bike Tour.
B-Cycle and brunch your way around the isthmus with a Madison Eats food tour.
Take a cycling or yoga class at CamRock Cafe and Sport in Cambridge, and then cool down with one of its 100-plus craft beers.
Test your balance with stand-up paddleboarding–or challenge yourself to SUP yoga.
Pick up the Merchant’s cocktail menu for some light reading and try an inspired special.
Beat the heat with a dip in the lake at one of Madison’s eight city beaches.
Dare to try the Black Anaconda “water coaster” or the Point of No Return waterslide at Noah’s Ark in the Wisconsin Dells.
For a tamer afternoon, breathe easy on the waterslides at the Goodman Pool on Olin Avenue.
Split a sundae with your sweetie at Michael’s Frozen Custard.
Spend an afternoon with your pup at Capital Brewery’s dog-friendly Bier Garten.
Chill out with the penguins at the Henry Vilas Zoo.
Sip your way to bliss with a margarita at Bel Air Cantina‘s sidewalk patio.
Seek the shade of a local bookstore and expand your summer reading list; try A Room of One’s Own or Paul’s Book Store on State Street.
Spelunk through the national landmark Cave of the Mounds in Blue Mounds.
Treat yourself to pie a la mode and an ice cream social at Sassy Cow Creamery. Aug. 25
See and be seen
Watch the sunset to the sounds of Concerts on the Rooftop at Monona Terrace. Thursdays June-July
Brunch at Sardine for an easygoing start to the weekend, complete with Lake Monona views.
Scavenge the Bloody Mary bar at Genna’s, DLUX or Vintage for the best fixings.
Catch an avant-garde film at MMoCA’s Rooftop Cinema. June 1-29
Picnic next to the gorgeous field of sunflowers at Pope Farm Conservancy in Middleton in August. *Sunflower Days 2018 were canceled for security reasons
Grab double drinks with a friend at Old Fashioned’s two-for-one happy hour.
Grab a food cart dinner at Let’s Eat Out!, a series that brings food carts to city neighborhoods on Monday-Thursday evenings throughout the summer.
Soak up the sun and catch some great bands at the High Noon Saloon for the Summer Patio Series. Thursdays through September
Join other Shrek fans at the annual ShrekFest. Snack on Shrek-themed refreshments and participate in an onion-eating contest. Sept. 2
Rainy day fun
Pay homage to the most acceptable hot dog condiment at the Mustard Museum–and remember, National Mustard Day is August 2!
Create a book group with the help of a book club kit from Central Library.
Hone your moves with dance lessons at Fred Astaire, Tempo or A Step Above.
Learn about Wisconsin’s past over lunch at a History Sandwiched In lecture at the Wisconsin Historical Museum.
Work up an appetite touring the Babcock Hall Dairy Store for a big scoop of Union Utopia ice cream.
Pick up some new kicks at (shoo) or Morgan’s Shoes.
Hunt for one-of-a-kind finds at the Madison Makers Summer Market & Pub Crawl at Bos Meadery. Aug. 18
Indulge your inner hippie
Mingle with Blooming Butterflies at Olbrich Botanical Gardens. July 19-Aug. 12
Find out what keeps Willy Street weird at the Willy Street Fair. September 15-16
Make music in Library Mall with the Madison Area Drum Circle Group.
Pick up a protest T-shirt, or create your own sticker or button at Anthology.
Rock out to REO Speedwagon as they headline at Breese Stevens Field. June 22
Flex your green thumb and volunteer at Troy Community Gardens.
Peruse Wisconsin arts and crafts at Art Fair Off the Square. July 14-15
Join an interactive jam session at the Sugar Maple Traditional Music Festival. Aug. 3-4
Suit up and take a beekeeping class with Mad Urban Bees.
Feel groovy with Far Out: Art From the 1960s at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. Through Sept. 2
No stage, no seats, no fuss–just kick back and enjoy a show from emerging musicians at a Shitty Barn Session in Spring Green. Through Oct. 10
Pick strawberries or raspberries at Carandale, Appleberry Farm and U Pick Strawberry Farm.
Find a new favorite band at the Atwood City Limits Music Festival. Tex Tubb’s will be slinging signature tacos and fresh-squeezed palace margaritas. Aug. 4
Try out something new
Rent a room with a view at Edgewater Hotel on the shore of Lake Mendota.
Dig in at the Bacon and Brews at Breese Stevens Field. June 23
Check out the 85 Bucky Badger statues scattered around the city during Bucky on Parade. Through Sept. 12
Hit the green for the PGA Champions Tour at University Ridge Gold Course. June 18-24
Admire the teeniest of art exhibitions at the Little Galleries on Mifflin and Monroe streets.
Watch the independent cinema of M. J. Paggie in The House of Sparkling Glasses, an exhibition of 16 short films at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. June 2-Sept. 2
Shop for paintings, ceramics, jewelry, photography, glass and metalwork at the Agora Art Fair. Aug. 18
Get drenched in the Splash Pad in Middleton.
Catch the annual Monona Community Festival for fireworks, a wife carry championship and a mini-art fair. July 3-4
Test-drive an electric bike from Crazy Lenny’s E-Bikes.
What the cool kids are doing
Dance in the streets at a Live on King Street concert. June 15, July 20, Aug. 3, Aug. 17, Aug. 24, Sept. 7
Take a Saturday afternoon tour of Tyranena Brewing Company or chill in the beer garden for live music on Friday and Saturday nights.
Catch up with a friend over coffee at Colectivo on the Capitol Square.
Grow your own heirloom tomatoes and enjoy an August filled with endless salads, salsa and bruschetta.
Visit the Children’s Museum sans kiddos for Adult Swim.
Get down with your neighbors at Dane Dances on the Monona Terrace rooftop. Fridays in August
Explore skulls, hearts and other iconic images in the Jim Dine exhibition at the Chazen Museum of Art. Through August 17
Grab a disc and join an Ultimate Frisbee pickup game (check the Madison Ultimate Frisbee Association website for details).
Plug in to the Midwest tech scene with the Forward Technology Festival. Aug. 16-23
Support local nonprofits while listening to local, regional and national bands at the concert series, Central Park Sessions. Aug. 1-2. Aug. 8-9, Aug. 15-16
Update your wardrobe with fashionable finds from Twigs and Context.
Grab some friends and tackle 10 tough obstacles at the Tough Mudder. Sept. 8-9
Emilie Brandt hits the High Noon Saloon. Aug. 12
Get the girls together to sip, chat and make masterpieces at Revel.
Challenge a friend to an old-school game of mini golf or try out footgolf–a combination of soccer and golf–at Vitense Golfland.
Welcome the Madison Radicals‘ new season with games all summer long.
Be a super parent
Catch family-friendly outdoor flicks–Mondays through August hit the Lakeside Cinema at the Memorial Union Terrace.
Pick out a new favorite toy at Capitol Kids, Playthings and Tradition Children’s Market.
Listen to three days of music from around the globe at Madison’s World Music Festival. Sept. 14-15
Spend a splashy day at Dolphins Cove and Adventure Lagoon at Prairie Athletic Club in Sun Prairie.
Treat the family to an afternoon at the Terrace for Babcock ice cream and duck-watching on Lake Mendota.
Take the kids for their first boat ride with a kayak, canoe, rowboat or paddleboat rental from Wingra Boats.
Cheer on the kids as they swim, bike and run their way to the finish line of the Tri 4 Schools Triathlon in Middleton. Aug. 18
Grab some food and enjoy tunes and activities at Tenney Park for the Makeshift Festival. Aug. 12
Set up camp and tell ghost stories in the backyard (Fontana Sports and Rutabaga should have all the gear you need).
Keep your eyes peeled for MMoCA’s Art Cart‘s visits around town.
Discover fourteenth-century music through concerts and workshops at UW’s Madison Early Music Festival. July 7-14
Hobnob with Madison’s smarty pants, discussing interesting topics like biology, the CIA and hobbits at the High Noon Saloon’s monthly Nerd Nite.
Identify plants in bloom in sixteen acres of gardens and an indoor tropical conservatory at Olbrich Botanical Gardens.
Pick up ethically raised meat from the Conscious Carnivore and host a sustainable grill-out at a local park.
Take it outside
Enjoy a magical night of classical opera and Broadway hits under the stars at Opera in the Park, hosted by Madison Opera in Garner Park. July 21
Unwind with a favorite novel or new summer read in a shady spot in James Madison Park.
Stock up on seasonal, farm-fresh produce and cooking tips directly from local producers at the Dane County Farmers’ Market. Wednesdays on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Saturdays on the Capitol Square
Bust your butt every day of the week with a Fit Fun Bootcamp workout at Elver Park.
Head to J. Henry & Sons for an Outstanding in the Field dinner, an open-air farm-fresh meal prepared by local chef Dan Fox. Aug. 4
Take in a special concert at Breese Stevens Field with Ray LaMontagne and Neko Case. July 6
Add to your art collection with a painting, photograph or sculpture from Art Fair on the Square. July 14-15
Indulge in gourmet treats and beverages at the beautiful Vintage Brewing Company for Madison Magazine‘s Brewery Brunch event. Sept. 9
Head “Up the Hill” for an outdoor American Players Theatre performance in Spring Green.
Get all fancy
Attend Maple Bluff’s Fest on the Fourth for a day of events and fireworks.
Tour University Heights, one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods, during the Olbrich Home Garden Tour. July 13-14
Become a member of the Shorewood Hills Pool and swim some laps in their Olympic-sized facility.
Get gorgeous for wedding season with a dress from a local store.
Work the red carpet on the way into the annual Bartell Theatre Awards.
Tour Mansion Hill, University Heights and Bascom Hill on a Historic Madison tour. Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings through September
Rent a luxe boat from SkipperBud’s and take it for a spin in Lake Mendota.
Indulge in a seasonal meal and craft cocktails at Forequarter.
Buy some bling from local jewelers such as T.Q., Goodman’s or Chalmer’s.
Host a gourmet cheese and wine night with samplings from Fromagination.
Ride the ferris wheel at the Dane County Fair. July 19-22
Admire American muscle cars at the nineteenth annual Vintage Celebration at Botham Vineyards. August 12
Grab a bite of steamed sweet corn at the Sun Prairie Sweet Corn Fest. August 16-19
Serve a pickleball on the courts at the east-side’s Heritage Heights Park.
Indulge in a grasshopper, the classic supper club cocktail, at Nick’s, Smoky’s Club or Kavanaugh’s Esquire Club.
Boat over and drop anchor for lunch at the Green Lantern Restaurant on Lake Waubesa.
Find new-to-you clothing and accessories at consignment shops like ReThreads, Simply Savvy or UpShift.
Kick off of work early
Stake out a spot and pack a picnic for Madison’s beloved Concerts on the Square, presented by the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. Wednesdays June 27-Aug. 1
Breathe in some fresh air hiking a segment of the Ice Age Trail.
Stake out a spot on a local patio for happy hour or an evening by the fire.
Get your jazz fix at the downtown concert series Jazz at Five. Aug. 8, 15, 22, 29, Sept. 5
Play a game of sand volleyball at Legends, Coliseum Bar or James Madison Park.
Shop till you drop on Monroe Street at Katy’s American Indian Arts, Milward Farrell Fine Art, Orange Tree Imports, Hive of Madison and Zip-Dang.
Hit the Craftsman Table & Tap for a Tap Takeover brew and a plate of beer-battered cheese curds. July 11
Take in cool views
Salute the sun with a yoga class on the Capital Fitness roof.
Enjoy golfing on the wide, open greens at Glenway, Monona, Odana Hills or Yahara Hills–Madison’s four public golf courses.
Order a tall glass of wine with a tall State Street view on the Fresco rooftop.
Take a leap with Seven Hills Skydivers for unobstructed panoramic views of the Madison area.
Explore the cosmos through the telescope at the Washburn Observatory.
Get a bird’s-eye view of the city from the Capitol observation deck.
Learn how to flyboard with Mad City Flyboards and soar up to thirty feet above Lake Mendota on a water jet pack.
Hike Indian Lake County Park for beautiful views of the surrounding valley.
Celebrate boating and Madison lakes at the annual Aquapalooza festival at Picnic Point Bay. July 31
Meet the famous sculpture on the Madison Children’s Museum rooftop.
Bite into samples of Italian, Asian, Mexican and other delicious fare at Taste of Madison, the annual food celebration on the Square. Sept. 1-2
Take a walk to see the ornate Thai Pavilion in the Olbrich Botanical Gardens.
Sip internationally sourced coffee roasts at the Stoughton Coffee Break Festival. August 18
Go on a fair trade shopping spree at SERRV, Change and Endless Knot to benefit artisans around the world.
Tour the world without leaving the near-east side: Taste Costa Rican, Chinese, French, Indonesian, Japanese, Laotian and Thai food restaurant hopping along Willy Street.
Celebrate Africa’s cultural heritage through music, dance and food at Africa Fest at Warner Park. August 18
Wander the shops and restaurants in nearby New Glarus, Wisconsin’s own little Switzerland.
Excuses to grab a beer
Play in a Madison School and Community Recreation softball league with friends and celebrate wins at your favorite bar.
Cheer for the Madison Mallards baseball team while enjoying all you can eat and drink refreshments in the Duck Blind.
Boat over to Christy’s Landing for drinks at the Tiki Bar.
Head to the ‘burbs for festivals like Oregon Summer Fest. June 21-24
Snag a coveted ticket to the Great Taste of the Midwest for a chance to sample a selection of more than a thousand beers at Olin Park. August 11
Take your tailgate to Lake Monona: Rent the Pontoon Porch for an afternoon of on-the-water fun.
Pick up supplies at the Wine and Hop Shop and create your own home brew.
Round up the troops for League Trivia at one of Madison’s bars such as the Echo Tap, Bristled Boar or Capital Tap Haus.
Place a reservation to hike the serene Holy Wisdom Monastery nature trails in Middleton.
Catch a Capitol City Band concert of marches, show tunes, sing-alongs and soloists at Rennebohm Park. Thursdays June-August
Experience classical chamber music in the unique setting of a rustic barn at the Token Creek Chamber Music Festival. August 25-Sept. 2
Watch a whiffle ball game or rent the field for yourself at Rookies in Mazomanie.
Eat lunch outside the cubicle with Tuesday Lunch Time Live concerts on the King Street walkway near the Capitol. June 5-August 28
Take a date
Cycle around Lake Monona with your sweetheart.
Check out an improv or comedy show at Monkey Business, Atlas Improv or the Comedy Club.
Cozy up in your car and catch two flicks for the price of one at the Highway 18 and Sky Vu drive-in movie theaters in Jefferson and Monroe.
Wine and dine your beau during Madison Magazine’s annual summer Restaurant Week. July 22-27
Request your song at dueling pianos at the Ivory Room.
Start training together and end summer with the Madison Mini Marathon or 5K. August 18
Calling all history buffs
Relive a romantic stalemate with Madison Savoyards’ Die Fledrmaus. July 20-29
Search for ancient Native American effigy mounds around the city.
Ponder rocks, fossils and bones that are hundreds, thousands and even millions of years old at the UW-Madison Geology Museum.
Explore Frank Lloyd Wright’s innovative church, the Unitarian Meeting House.
Hunt for furniture, art, clothing and other treasures at Odana Antiques.
Visit the Wisconsin Veterans Museum to see war relics from the past.
Appreciate floating relics at the Antique and Classic Boat Show. Sept. 28-30
Celebrate with friends in Elver Park during Westfest. July 14
Cook up Wisconsin-raised beef, lamb, pork or poultry from Willy Street’s Underground Butcher.
Rally for love and equality at the annual OutReach LGBT Pride Parade. August 19
Go back in time with jukebox tunes and cocktails at the Corral Room Bar at Tornado Steakhouse.
Hike, camp or just enjoy the stunning views at Blue Mound State Park.
Catch a wave at the Mad-City Ski Team show Sundays at Law Park.
Relax to blues, orchestra and more at the Olbrich Summer Concert Series. Tuesdays June 19-Aug. 14
Eat your way across the city with Madison Food Explorers Tours.
Take in a community theater production by groups like the Middleton Players Theatre, Evansville Community Theater or Oregon Straw Hat Players.
Dress your preppy best with a new swimsuit, tote or polo shirt from Dodgeville’s Lands’ End.
Watch three generations collide in Broom Street Theater’s A Contest of Wills. June 15-July 7
Take a look at rare WWII aircrafts during Heavy Bombers Weekend at the Dane County Regional Airport. July 20-22
Do a downtown cheese curds crawl with stops to the Great Dane, Tipsy Cow, Old Fashioned and the Coopers Tavern.
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