You’ve eaten your way through State Street and football season is over. Now, it’s time to really explore Madison as a true resident. Take a look at these great FREE options around campus. From beautiful outdoor gardens to your next favorite place to study, Madison will never disappoint. Here are 10 free things to do around UW Madison.
1. Walk all the way out to Picnic Point
Start at the Memorial Union and walk the length of Lakehsore Path to reach Picnic Point streching right out in the middle of the lake. Catch the sunrise across the lake in the morning or watch the boats by the Union at night. You can also rent out a space and have an evening bonfire along the path.
2. Visit the UW Madison Arboretum
Another great outdoor park in Madison is the UW Arboretum. This restorative garden is home to the largest collection of ecological plants that have been brought back to life and preserved. The farthest destination from campus, but definetly a Madison highlight
3. Explore the Dane County Farmer’s Market
The quintessential Dane County Farmer’s Market is a perfect Saturday morning stroll. Get up early and head towards the Capitol Square to beat the rush or join the crowds around mid morning. Fresh produce and squeky cheese curds are in full swing in summer, later in fall pupkins and vegetables are more common.
4. See the animals at the Henry Vilas Zoo
Did you know that there is a free zoo in Madison? That’s right free today and forever. Even though the last time you were at the zoo was probably elementary school or for your high school Biology trip, but the Madison zoo is perfect for all ages. Make sure to see the lion cubs and giraffes.
5. Take in Wisconsin politics at the Capitol
You know that massive white dome building that looks like the US Capitol? That’s the Wisconsin State Capitol: it’s gorgeous. Take a peek inside to view the mosaics on the dome. Also, get up to the observation ledge to peer off the edge and look around the city from the great viewpoint.
6. Take a break at the Chazen Art Museum
The Chazen Art Museum is pefectly situated between the Humanities Building along East Campus Mall. Stop in for a couple minutes to view some phenominal art. They have many traveling and visiting showcases throughout the year. The gallery on the west side of the building looks earily similar to the Lourve in Paris.
7. Walk around Monroe Street
Similar to State Street, Monroe Street is a lively area filled with delicious food and cute shops. No matter if you’re going to walk around and enjoy the sites or do some actually shopping Monroe will not disappoint. Two highlights in terms of food: Pizza Brutta and Colectivo Coffee.
8. Get across campus to see Olbrich Gardens
Even though Olbrich Gardens may seem far away from the heart of campus, it is just on the other side of the Capitol. Walk around the butterfly exhibit and take a moment to get some pictures by the Thai Pavillion and creek.
9. Watch a movie at Union South
On the second floor of Union South every weekend you can see some amazing FREE films. The Wisconsin Union Directorate Film Committee has shown everything from La La Land to When Harry Met Sally. Grab some ice cream and enjoy some new titles and old classics.
10. Grab some food or study at the Memorial Union
Even if you missed out on the Union during the summer season, you still have time all year to enjoy this community and social hub. Grab some classic Wisconsin food and sit outside on the sunburst chairs by the lake. Also, get down to the Union during the weekdays to enjoy nearly empty study rooms.