It’s Summer at UW — Enjoy Activities and Events in Our Community

Summer in Madison is the perfect time to explore destinations in the local area and catch up on some well-deserved time together with friends and loved ones. There are lots of things to-do in our community when we finally get the chance to step outside and take in the summer sun and warm temperatures.

People in silhouette sit along the Lake Mendota shoreline and piers at the Memorial Union Terrace at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and watch the sun set during early summer. Photo by Jeff Miller / UW-Madison.

With beautiful lakes and green spaces, lots of free, public amenities, and a multitude of festivals and events, there is something for everyone to enjoy in the next few months. Be present, enjoy the now, and take advantage of all that summer at UW–Madison has to offer. 

Here are some activities and events from your friends in Student Affairs:

The Classics:

  1. Watch a beautiful sunset at the Terrace at Memorial Union. Grab a bite to eat at Der Rathskeller, or enjoy Babcock Dairy ice cream from the Daily Scoop
  2. Saturday mornings are for the Dane County Farmers’ Market, the largest producer-only farmers’ market in the U.S. You’ll find a diversity of vegetables, flowers, baked goods, and specialty products from approximately 150 vendors every Saturday this summer. 

    Pedestrians shop for produce and other offerings while walking around the Dane County Farmers’ Market that circles the Wisconsin State Capitol in downtown Madison, Wis. Photo by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison.
  3. Bike along the Lakeshore Path or Lake Monona Loop. It’s easy to rent an electric bike from Madison BCycle for a discounted student price.
  4. Sunbathe on Bascom Hill. Remember sunscreen, water, and a good book!
  5. Enjoy six outdoor concerts on Wednesdays this summer during Concerts on the Square. This free summer concert series is a popular, authentic Madison experience.
  6. Spend a sunny afternoon on the waters of Lake Mendota! You can rent a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard from Outdoor UW at Memorial Union.


Atypical Activities:

  1. Climb the stairs to the top of the Wisconsin State Capitol for a stunning view from the center of the city. Free tours of the entire building are offered daily, too!
  2. Interact with 70 giant physics experiments designed and built by university faculty, staff, and students on the second floor of Chamberlin Hall at the L.R. Ingersoll Physics Museum.
  3. Enjoy a ball game with the Madison Mallards. Summer is the perfect time for affordable entertainment and excitement at the ballpark. 
  4. Join a guided hike at the UW–Madison Arboretum. All tours are free and meet at the Visitor Center — no registration required! Check the events calendar for upcoming hikes.

    A magnolia tree blooms in the Longenecker Horticultural Gardens at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum. Photo by Bryce Richter / UW-Madison.
  5. Spend a rainy day at one of Madison’s many museums with free admission. Head over to Capitol Square for the Wisconsin Veterans Museum and Wisconsin Historical Museum to learn more about Wisconsin’s rich heritage.
  6. Walk Governor’s Island — one of Madison’s hidden gems! This public green space has beautiful, high rocky bluffs, which makes it the perfect spot for a scenic stroll and fishing.
A dirt hiking trail surrounded by green trees at Governor’s Island in Madison, Wisc. Photo courtesy of the Wisconsin Explorer.


Festivals & Special Events: 

  1. July 9-10: Almost 500 artists will come to Capitol Square with their prints, photographs, jewelry, sculptures, and fine craft for the 6th annual Art Fair on the Square.

    Community members browse through various art stands at Art Fair on the Square directly in front of the Wisconsin State Capitol building.
  2. July 21-24: Find concerts, entertainment, great food, animals, and adventure at the Dane County Fair
  3. July 23: Once a year, Madison Opera gives the community a chance to experience opera and musical theater performances for free during Opera in the Park.

    Musicians from the Madison Opera perform on an outdoor stage at Opera in the Park in 2019. Photo courtesy of Madison Opera.
  4. July 24-29: Madison Restaurant Week is the perfect opportunity to sample a variety of Madison’s local cuisine! Participating restaurants offer a fixed menu with three courses for $20-30.
  5. July 30-31: Celebrating 40 years as one of Madison’s longest running music festivals, AtwoodFest features a variety of musical performances and local food vendors.