by Laura Kocum
on Friday, May 26th, 2017 at 9:58am.
Summer is finally here! It's time to explore and enjoy all that Madison has to offer. And if you live on the west side of town, there is no shortage to the opportunities! Here's our list of the top 10 things to enjoy on Madison's west side.
1. Check out a Festival
Of course, Brat Fest is this weekend, and is a must for anyone that wants to enjoy Wisconsin culture, live music, brats of course, and fun for the family. Saturday, June 24 offers fireworks at Lake Monona- called "Shake the Lake." Then, on August 4, Verona hosts a "National Night Out" party. Enjoy picnics, explore police and fire vehicles, spend time with the horse patrol and make connections with neighbors. This event is large, and always a huge success. End the Summer at the Middleton Good Neighbor Festival, August 25-27. With live music, craft tents, food carts and a large parade along University Avenue, the festival is the perfect way to end the summer.
2. Join a Pool
Madison is ranked #5 in the nation for its swim options. The west side has the best variety of outdoor swimming spots in town. Many of these pools offer swim teams, dive teams and fun for the whole family. We recently featured Madison pools here.
3. Visit a Neighborhood Farmer's Market
Madison is known for the Dane County Farmer's Market on the Square, but did you know that there are markets scattered throughout neighborhoods too? The West Side Community Market is one of the largest. With 50 vendors, and convenient parking, the market is a perfect stop on a Saturday morning.
4. Hike Dane County Parks
There are so many beautiful views to enjoy! The Ice Age Trail Junction can be located off of Highway PD/McKee Road. This section of the Ice Age Trail connects to Badger Prairie Park, offering both forested and open grassland. Be sure to stop in at the Pope Farm Conservancy too. Located off Old Sauk Road, the park has walking trails, and by early August, will have a million sunflowers in bloom. It's a perfect place for an outing, and an opportunity for beautiful pictures.
5. Visit a Splash Pad
You can enjoy Middleton's splash pad at Lakeview Park. This one is adjacent to two playgrounds, offering both wet and dry fun. Elver Park also has one near the playground and the frisbee golf course. Fitchburg has one too- but with a barn theme at McKee Farms Park. While you're there, check out the Dream Park, a large, accessible park for kids of all abilities.
6. Enjoy a Food Cart
There are food cart nights hosted in several neighborhoods, including Midvale Heights, Nakoma, Shorewood Hills and Meadowood. You can enjoy a wide range of affordable and delicious cuisine, and connect with neighbors at the same time. View the summer schedule to learn more.
7. Pick Berries
Appleberry Farm is just west of Madison and offers strawberries, blueberries and raspberries for picking in June and July. In Fitchburg, stop in at Eplegaarden for raspberries mid-summer. Both farms also offer apple picking every fall.
8. Visit a Brewery
Capital Brewery in downtown Middleton offers a variety of German-style craft beer, and creates a fun atmosphere to enjoy it. Their Bier Garten is a popular destination all summer. Bring the family and enjoy the live music, dancing, beer (of course) and snacks for the younger ones.
9. Rent a Kayak, Canoe or Paddle Board
Stop in at Lake Wingra, and get a rental at Wingra Boats. Canoes, kayaks and paddle boards are available by the hour. You can also get lessons on paddle boarding, and gain confidence as you explore the lake. Love being on the water? You can get a summer membership, that includes unlimited rentals!
10. Explore the Arboretum
Offering 20 miles of trails and beautiful open spaces, the UW Arboretum has free admission, and allows you to enjoy the woods without leaving town. The trails offer the opportunity to explore the outdoors, and view wildlife along the way. The arboretum is located at 1207 Seminole Highway.
The beauty of these options is that many are free, and all are a short drive from west side homes. We hope you enjoy our list, and you get out and explore the city this summer!