Finding the Fun Over Winter Break: Things to Do in Madison
Published on December 23rd, 2015
By Jennifer Oppriecht
Good-bye students. Hello winter ghost town. Madison clears out quite a bit during winter break, leaving apartment renters (especially students) left behind, wondering what to do in Madison. Our suggestions for things to do in Madison include new 2016 updates from last year’s list!
NEW ADDITIONS IN 2016:
Wisconsin Historical Museum: The museum celebrates the history and shared experiences of the many cultures that shaped our state. This year they’re featuring “Wisconsin Goes Hollywood.” The exhibit features Wisconsinites who have made it to Hollywood – runs until Feb. 13, 2016.
Hop Head Beer Tours. Offering brewery, distillery and winery bus and bike tours. Hop Head Beer Tours promises you will have a fun, safe and educational experience – and notes the tours are NOT a party bus or pub crawl. Check their website for tour dates.
STILL ON OUR LIST:
Ice Skating (and more) at The Edgewater: Madison’s landmark hotel and resort has a year under its belt, and features fantastic views, restaurants, lounges, spa and, you guessed it, ice skating! Check their website for special holiday packages.
Tour the Wisconsin State Capitol: Sure, you see it all the time, but have you actually been on a tour? Great nuggets of Capitol trivia await: did you know that over 40 different types of stone from around the world were used in the construction? Plenty more where that came from, baby. The tours also include insight on the Capitol murals, with fascinating stories behind each of the paintings, and much, much more. Best of all – it’s FREE.
Sledding-o-Rama: Providing there is snow, it’s a great time to take a ride down Elizabeth Waters hill on Observatory Drive. For true adventure, trek out to Elver Park and ride the mammoth hill where Bo Ryan runs his troops into the ground. The City of Madison’s website provides info on nine sledding hills.
Tour the Chazen Museum of Art: You walk past it every day, but have you ever taken a look inside the Chazen. Or, if the weather outside is frightful, pour yourself a cup of cocoa and explore the entirety of their work online.
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art: The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art provides free exhibitions and education programs for city residents and visitors. Housed within the Overture Center for the Arts, current exhibits include the art of Ellen Lanyon, a celebrated painter and printmaker who grew up in Chicago and graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1948.
Old Sugar Distillery: Located on East Main Street, the Old Sugar Distillery has informal tours and will provide you with everything you need to know about their homemade products, including Honey Liqueur, Cane and Abe Rum and more.
Henry Vilas Zoo: Visit Henry Vilas Zoo for a glimpse at the real thing – a Bengal tiger. You’ll also see African lions, tortoises from the Galapagos Islands, our favorite, the capybara, and our buddies the lemurs (pictured below).
Ice Skating in Madison Parks: Ice skate rentals and concessions are available at Elver, Tenney and Vilas Park. You’ll also find group ice skating lessons!
Visit Ye Old Microbrews (and Macro-Brews): Madison is home to some great microbrews, including the refurbished Ale Asylum, the Vintage Brewing Company, the Great Dane Pub and Brewing Company and Granite City out by West Towne Mall. We also have the Capital Brewery in Middleton with brewery tours. Recent additions include the Next Door Brewing Company and One Barrel Brewing Company.
Take some Walking Tours: You can plan a tour of one of Madison’s historic districts by visiting the City of Madison’s Planning Division website. You’ll find fourteen pre-planned, self-guide tour maps complete with anecdotal history.
Check out the Local Band Scene: If you’ve been too immersed in schoolwork to get a taste of live music scene, you’re seriously missing out. You’ll find band performance listed on The Isthmus and this Yelp Listing shows all the local Madison live music locales.
Go Snowshoeing or Cross Country Skiing: Once again, if snow allows, you should take a look at snowshoeing. The DNR provides a complete list of Wisconsin snowshoe trails. The City of Madison has a fantastic cross-country skiing page, and you can reach out to the Ski Trail Hotline for trail conditions at 608-242-4576.
Take Classes: The Memorial Union offers classes on snow skiing, speed reading, and other interests, including Wheelhouse Studios.
Visit Devil’s Lake State Park: A spring and summertime favorite, Devil’s Lake State Park also features sledding, hiking and snowshoeing. Added bonus: Snowshoes are available for FREE in January.
Go Snowboarding and Downhill Skiing: We’re not sure how we missed this in last year’s listing, but Tyrol Basin and Devil’s Head are both great places for snowboarding and downhill skiing. You may also want to check into the UW Hoofers Ski and Snowboard club.
Freeze Your — Off for a Good Cause: Madison allows its inmates to express their insanity and help charitable organizations in the process. Freeze for Food is a 5K/10K run/walk at Vilas park, and it’s scheduled for Saturday, January 23, 2016.
Walk the UW Arboretum: The Arboretum offers natural beauty year-round. There are also numerous walks, lectures, and volunteer opportunities during the winter. Includes ski and snowshoe trails too!
Try Snow Tubing: Ride down a snowy 1,000 foot chute at Cascade Mountain – all in a tube! Great activity if you’re not a skier or snowboarder.
Clean House, Read a Book or Apartment Hunt: You’ve got some time on your hands, so why not take the time to clean out your apartment or catch up on your reading. De-clutter, get rid of the junk and try and re-organize and/or redecorate and expand your mind. The new look will feel better and make you more productive.
We’ve likely just scratched the surface, and we’re sure you’ve got a few ideas to offer. Add a comment below and let us know what we’ve missed. Then enjoy the time off while you can.