Summer Guide

Summer Guide

Flock with local Francophiles to La Fête de Marquette for French-flavored music and food., July 10–13

Hunt for sweet deals at State Street’s version of the Chicago urban bazaar, the Maxwell Street Days Summer Sidewalk Sale., July 18–20

Take Frisbee to the next level with disc golf at Elver and Hiestand Parks. 

Check out the latest summer blockbusters at Sundance, Point or Eastgate theaters. 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 Music Theatre of Madison’s production of Bonnie & Clyde. mtmadison.comJuly 18–26 

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., July 19

Compete in boat races and competitions in the Hoofers Commodore’s Cup challenge., July 18–26

Set sail with the Lake Monona Sailing Club and its weekly sailing races.

Give our lakes some love: Water-ski, kayak or take a boat ride at the Clean Lakes Festival in Law Park., July 26

Cheer on the Iron men and women in the annual Ironman Wisconsin triathlon., September 7 

Bask in a Picnic Point sunset after walking the Lakeshore Path.

Mist off the kids at Cypress Spray Park on Madison’s south side.

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. madisonsymphony.orgJune 21, July 19 and August 9 

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 TasteAugust 25 

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 photography of and by famous artists at the Chazen Museum of Art’s Passion for Photography exhibit. chazen.wisc.eduThrough August 17 

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. wingraboats.comJune 7, July 19, August 2

Attempt to find Madison’s tastiest milkshake—will it be at Mickies, DLUX, Dotty’s, Monty’s or another sweet spot?

Take over city streets with fellow bikers on Ride the Drive on the east side. cityofmadison.comAugust 24 

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 a Betty Lou Cruise.

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. themamas.orgJune 22

Browse such State Street shops as Little Luxuries, Madison Modern Market, Tellus Mater and the Soap Opera for unique trinkets and specialty gifts.

Celebrate the diversity of the Madison community at the Triangle Ethnic Fest. bayviewfoundation.orgAugust 17

Mark the Wisconsin Union Theater’s reopening and Four Seasons Theatre’s seventy-fifth season with the Cole Porter musical Kiss Me, Kate. fourseasonstheatre.comAugust 22–24

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 Barbeque 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. brittinghamboats.comJuly 10 and 12, August 8 and 9, September 6

Enjoy cocktails before a movie at Sundance Cinema’s rooftop bar.

Find the constellations with UW Space Place stargazing in Garner Park. cityofmadison.comJuly 14

End summer with a bang at the Lights on the Lake boat parade, between Maple Bluff and the Memorial Union on Lake Mendota. lightsonthelakebydrake.comAugust 31

Run under the stars at the Movin’ Shoes Full Moon 5K. movinshoesmadison.comAugust 6

Get crafty with late-night knitting at the Sow’s Ear in Verona. knitandsip.comFirst 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. hopheadbeertours.comJuly 5, August 2, September 6

B-Cycle and brunch your way around the isthmus with a Madison Eats food tour.

Take a cycling class at CamRock Café and Sport in Cambridge, and then cool down with one of its 150-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 a summer-inspired special.

Beat the heat with a dip in the lake at one of Madison’s twelve 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 tropical bliss with a Pain Killer on Jolly Bob’s backyard 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. sassycowcreamery.comAugust 24

Watch the sunset to the sounds of Concerts on the Rooftop at Monona Terrace. mononaterrace.comThursdays 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. mmoca.orgJune 6–August 22. 

Picnic next to the gorgeous field of sunflowers at Pope Farm Conservancy in Middleton in August.

Grab Double Bubble drinks with a friend at Old Fashioned’s two-for-one happy hour.

Grab a food cart dinner at Madison Meet & Eat, a series that brings food carts to city neighborhoods on Tuesday and Thursday evenings throughout the summer.

Soak up the sun and catch some great bands at the High Noon Saloon for the Summer Patio Series. high-noon.comThursdays through September

Help set a world record for the Largest Paddleboard Yoga Class at the Midwest Standup Paddle Festival at Brittingham Boats. paddleboardspecialists.comJuly 11-12

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 the new 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 Madison Sole, shoo, Cornblooms or Morgan’s Shoes.

Hunt for one-of-a-kind finds at the Madison Craftacular and the Vintage Flea and Finds Pop Up Market in the Madison Masonic Center on July 20.

Mingle with Blooming Butterflies at Olbrich Botanical Gardens. olbrich.orgJuly 16–August 10

Find out what keeps Willy Street weird at the Willy Street Fair. cwd.orgSeptember 13–14

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.

“Do it Again” with Steely Dan as the duo headlines Overture Center.,  August 16

Flex your green thumb and volunteer at Troy Community Gardens.

Peruse Wisconsin arts and crafts at Art Fair Off the Square. artcraftswis.orgJuly 12–13

Join an interactive jam session at the Sugar Maple Traditional Music Festival. sugarmaplefest.orgAugust 1–2

Suit up and take a beekeeping class with Mad Urban Bees (taught in association with Round Rock Honey Beekeeping Academy).

Explore the cycle of life in the Turn Turn Turn exhibit at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. mmoca.orgThrough August 24

No stage, no seats, no fuss—just kick back and enjoy a show from emerging musicians at a Shitty Barn Session in Spring Green. shittybarnsessions.comThrough October 8

Pick strawberries or raspberries at Carandale, Appleberry and U Pick Strawberry Farm.

See junk become art in Hatch Art House’s EcoSculpt show of upcycled sculptures. hatcharthouse.comJuly 1–31

Rent a room with a view at the revamped Edgewater Hotel on the shore of Lake Mendota. theedgewater.comOpening in August

Dig in at the first Bacon, Brew & BBQ Festival at Angell Park in Sun Prairie. bbbfest.comJuly 12

Watch the strongest tug-of-war athletes square off in the World Tug of War Championships in Olin Park. tugofwar-twif.orgAugust 28–31

Hit the green for the first-ever Madison Parks Foundation Legacy Golf Outing at Yahara Hills Golf Course. madisonparksfoundation.orgJuly 11

Admire the teeniest of art exhibitions at the Little Galleries on Mifflin and Monroe streets.

Attend the opening of Jason S. Yi‘s much-anticipated new installation at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. mmoca.orgAugust 23–November 9

Shop for art and crafts, vintage items, local foods and more at the new urban pop-up flea market MadCity Bazaar. facebook.comJuly 20, August 17

Get drenched on the new Splash Pad in Middleton.

Catch the annual Rhythm & Booms fireworks—choreographed to songs broadcast over the radio—held over Lake Monona for the first time. rhythmandbooms.comJune 28

Test-drive an electric bike from Crazy Lenny’s E-Bikes.

Dance in the streets at a Live on King Street concert. liveonkingstreet.comJuly 18 and 25, August 8 and 22, September 19

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 July’s Adult Swim—a Roaring Twenties-themed party for grown-ups only. madisonchildrensmuseum.orgJuly 25

Get down with your neighbors at Dane Dances on the Monona Terrace rooftop. danedances.orgFridays in August

Explore skulls, hearts and other iconic images in the Jim Dine exhibition at the Chazen Museum of Art. chazen.wisc.eduThrough August 17

Grab a disc and join an Ultimate Frisbee pickup game.

Plug in to the Midwest tech scene with the Forward Technology Festivalforwardfest.orgAugust 21–28

Support local nonprofits while listening to local, regional and national bands at the new concert series, Central Park Sessions. marquettemusicfestivals.orgJuly 31, August 7, August 14

Update your wardrobe with fashionable finds from bop, iona, Twigs and Context.

Get your glow on and see whose outfits really shine at the Neon Vibe 5K. theneonvibe.comJuly 12

First Lolla, then SXSW and now back to Madison: PHOX hits the High Noon Saloon for two nights of shows. August 7 and 8

Get the girls together to sip, chat and make masterpieces at a Vino & Van Gogh wine painting party.

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 Capitols hockey team back to town with three alumni games at the Capitol Ice Arena., August 8

Discover fourteenth-century music through concerts and workshops at UW’s Madison Early Music Festival. madisonearlymusic.orgJuly 12–19

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.

Catch family-friendly outdoor flicks—Mondays through August hit the Lakeside Cinema at the Memorial Union Terrace and on weekends Madison parks offer special showings.;

Pick out a new favorite toy at Capitol Kids, Playthings, Whoops & Co. or Patty Cakes.

Listen to three days of music from around the globe at Madison’s World Music Festival. uniontheater.wisc.eduSeptember 19–21

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. tri4schools.comAugust 16

Grab a cone and enjoy tunes and activities at Olin Park for the Madison Parks Foundation’s Ice Cream Social. madisonparksfoundation.orgJuly 10

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.

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. madisonopera.orgJuly 26

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 or Hiestand Park.

Head to Blue Moon Community Farm for an Outstanding in the Field dinner, an open-air farm-fresh meal prepared by local chef Tory Miller. August 10 

Take in a special concert at Breese Stevens Field with The Jimmys, The Madpolecats and Sortin’ the Mail to celebrate 120 years of Madison parks. madisonparksfoundation.comJuly 8

Add to your art collection with a painting, photograph or sculpture from Art Fair on the Square. mmoca.orgJuly 12–13

Indulge in gourmet treats and beverages at the beautiful Aldo Leopold Nature Center for Madison Magazine‘s Signature Taste event. , July 1

Head “Up the Hill” for an outdoor American Players Theatre performance in Spring Green.

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. olbrich.orgJuly 11–12

Become a member of the Shorewood Hills Pool and swim some laps in their Olympic-sized facility.

Get gorgeous for wedding season with a frock from the Middleton Dress Company

Work the red carpet on the way into the fifth annual Bartell Theatre Awards. bartelltheatre.orgJuly 12

Tour Mansion Hill, University Heights and Bascom Hill on a Historic Madison tour. madisonpreservation.orgSaturdays through September

Rent a luxe boat from SkipperBud’s and take it for a spin in Lake Mendota.

Indulge in a seasonal four-course 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. danecountyfair.comJuly 16–20

Admire American muscle cars at the nineteenth annual Vintage Celebration at Botham Vineyards. bothamvineyards.comAugust 10

Grab a bite of steamed sweet corn at the Sun Prairie Sweet Corn Fest. sunprairiechamber.comAugust 14–17

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.

Stake out a spot and pack a picnic for Madison’s beloved Concerts on the Square, presented by the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. wcoconcerts.orgWednesdays June 25–July 30

Breathe in some fresh air hiking a segment of the Ice Age Trail.

Stake out a spot on Sprecher’s sprawling patio for happy hour or an evening by the fire.

Get your jazz fix at the downtown concert series Jazz at Five. jazzatfive.orgAugust 6, 13, 20, 27 and September 3

Play a game of sand volleyball at Legends, Coliseum Bar or James Madison Park.

Shop till you drop on Monroe Street at A Stone’s Throw, Forget Me Not Studio, Janus Galleries, Katy’s American Indian Arts, Milward Farrell Fine Art, Orange Tree Imports, Sarah B., the Velvet Button, Wild Child and Zip-Dang.

Hit the Craftsman Table & Tap for a Tap Takeover brew and a plate of beer-battered cheese curds., June 25, July 23, August 6

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 Madcity 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 27

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. tasteofmadison.comAugust 30–31

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. stoughtonwi.comAugust 16

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. africanassociationofmadison.orgAugust 16

Wander the shops and restaurants in nearby New Glarus, Wisconsin’s own little Switzerland.

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 SummerFest. summerfest.oregonwi.comJune 26–29

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. greattaste.orgAugust 9

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 concoct 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. mmqccb.orgThursdays June–August

Experience classical chamber music in the unique setting of a rustic barn at the Token Creek Chamber Music Festival. tokencreekfestival.orgAugust 23–31

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. downtownmadison.orgJune 17–August 5

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 20–25 

Request your song at dueling pianos at the Ivory Room.

Start training together and end summer with the Madison Mini Marathon or 5K. madisonminimarathon.comAugust 16

Relive a nineteenth-century battle of the sexes with Madison Savoyards’ Princess Ida. madisonsavoyards.orgJuly 25–August 3

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 Musuem.

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. cleanlakesalliance.comAugust 1–2

Picnic with friends in Elver Park before the annual fireworks show. July 3

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. lgbtoutreach.orgAugust 10

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. olbrich.orgTuesdays June 24–July 29

Eat your way across the city with Madison Food Explorers Tours.

Take in a community theater production, such as Rent or A Chorus Line by Middleton Players Theatre, Little Shop of Horrors by Evansville Community Theater or Gypsy by Oregon Straw Hat Players. middletonplayers.comJune 27–July 5,August 8–16, esttheater.comJuly 11–19 and August 9–16 

Dress your preppy best with a new swimsuit, tote or polo shirt from Dodgeville’s Lands’ End

Watch actors roast Madison’s political culture in Broom Street Theater’s Elect More Variety Shows! bstonline.orgJuly 17–26

Rev up your Harley and ride over to the Wing Ding 36 motorcycle convention at the Alliant Energy Center. wing-ding.orgJuly 2–5

Do a downtown cheese curds crawl with stops to the Great Dane, Tipsy Cow, Old Fashioned and the Coopers Tavern.  

Corinne Burgermeister and Emily Rappleye are web and editorial interns at Madison Magazine.