Dining and Drink

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.

Water warriors

  • 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 Fumé 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.

Sweet treats

  • 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 MarketMay 10, June 14, Aug. 9, Sept. 13
  • Enjoy classical music on the Memorial Union Terrace during Summer SerenadesJuly 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.

After sunset

  • 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 LakeJune 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

Free-wheeling fun

  • 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 Café and Sport in Cambridge, and then cool down with one of its 100-plus craft beers.

Cool down

  • 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 FairAug. 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.

Brain candy

  • 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.

Vintage appeal

  • 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.

Global flair

  • 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.

Hidden gems

  • 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

Wisconsin traditions

  • 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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