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Our Staff’s Top 5 Places to Swim Near Madison

Summer’s almost here, and if you’re like most people, hitting the beach or pool is on your to-do list. To help you find the best places to swim near Madison, we asked our staff at Steve Brown Apartments to tell us some of their favorites.

True, our humble Madison beaches and pools might not compare to what you’d find Keys. However, with our many nearby lakes – from mighty Mendota to smaller swimming holes – there are plenty of gems to explore. Here are our top five favorite places to swim.

5 Awesome Places to Swim Around Madison

1. James Madison Park – Favorite of Hailey Cross.HaileyCross_sq_jpg
Photo credit: Ann Althouse,
Photo credit: Ann Althouse

Situated just outside Capitol Square downtown Madison, James Madison Park marries city and outdoor living in a way that only Madison can.

The 12-acre park includes basketball courts, volleyball courts and a playground, nestled in an open grassy area. On a sunny day, you’re also likely to find at least a couple games of soccer and Frisbee going on.

With big shady trees, it’s also the perfect place to relax. Sunbathe, read a book, take a nap – it doesn’t really matter what you’re into. If you’re looking for an awesome downtown beach, it’s tough to beat James Madison Park.

2. Memorial Union dock – Another favorite of Hailey Cross.
Photo credit: Mike DeVries, The Cap Times,
Photo credit: Mike DeVries, The Cap Times

Looking for a more active place to get your swim on? Consider one of the Memorial Union’s docks.

The Memorial Union is perfect for people watching, good food and great drinks. Plus, with the docks situated just beyond the Memorial Union stage, you get the added bonus of hearing some live music while you take a dip.

As one of the most active hubs in the city, the Memorial Union docks provide several other unique opportunities. One of our staff noted, “Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you’ll even run into the UW Club Water Polo team and they’ll let you pass the ball around with them!”

You can also rent stand up paddle boards, canoes, and kayaks through Hoofers. Just be sure that your swimming skills are up to par – it’s pretty deep at the end of the dock (don’t worry though, there are on-duty lifeguards for most of the day).

LauraPaulson_sq_jpg3. Goodman Pool – Favorite of Laura Paulson
Photo credit:,
Photo credit:

The Goodman Pool is the perfect place to swim, especially if you have kids. It’s open every day during the summer, and is easy to get to (even by bike).

The enormous Goodman pool includes two water slides, an 8-lane 25-meter lap area with diving boards, and several shallow water play areas for preschool-aged children.

Around the pool, you’ll find sandy play areas, concessions, changing rooms, umbrella tables and deck chairs, making it an easy place to spend an entire day!

Dan_2014_jpg-1-508941-edited4. Sandy Beach – Favorite of Dan Seeley
Photo credit: City of Lake Mills, Wisconsin
Photo credit: City of Lake Mills, Wisconsin

Sandy Beach is located on Lake Mills and offers a 14 acre recreational lakefront. This area includes two large swimming beaches, a boat ramp, five sand volleyball courts, playground equipment and picnic areas.

During the summer, there’s also a restaurant/bar to help you picnic and relax to your heart’s content.

Jenny_2014_jpg5. Troll Beach – Favorite of Jenny Oppriecht
Photo credit: The Official Website of Stoughton Wisconsin,
Photo credit: The Official Website of Stoughton Wisconsin

What’s the worst quality a beach can possess (freshwater, at least)? Survey says, weeds and smellyness.

Troll Beach, located in Stoughton, hugs a man-made lake, so you don’t have to suffer through any of the typical unpleasantries that accompany many lakes.

The sandy beach also includes play structures, inflatable water slides, a full concession stand, as well as pools and chairs. Plus, with lifeguards always on duty, you can feel free to relax while your children splash around.

When the sun shines hottest this summer, don’t settle for any old water hole to jump into. Take our staff’s advice and try out one (or all) of our favorite places to swim around Madison!

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