On any given summer day at the UW Arboretum, you'll likely cross paths with bikers, runners and perhaps even a turkey.
The free, public space south of Lake Wingra includes 20 miles of trails that wind through woods, gardens, prairies, marshy ponds and oak savannas. This time of year they are bursting with colorful wildflowers and chipper critters.
Take in the beautiful sights and sounds at your own pace from dawn to dusk. And be sure to stop by the visitor center to fill up your water bottle, ask a volunteer for a map, and check out the bookstore and art gallery.
You can also bring along your binoculars or camera during guided hikes, often held Sunday afternoons, and learn about everything from butterflies and birds to blooming plants and trees. You never know what you might see high in a tree or rustling in the brush. Or, stop by for a night hike by the light of the moon to watch blinking fireflies and listen for frogs and owls.
Whether you're there for 15 minutes or a whole day, exploring the Arboretum is sure to melt away your stress, bring out your childlike wonder and awaken your appreciation for nature.
Check it out
What: UW Arboretum When: Trails open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, visitor center open 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 12:30-4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays Where: 2880 Longenecker Dr., Madison Info:arboretum.wisc.edu
Looking for other things to do this summer on the west side? Laura Kocum shares her favorites here.