Madison is a really neat place both to live and to visit. Home of the university as well as the state capitol, it offers the dynamism of a large city with the friendliness and accessibility of a small town.
Let's start with the summers - they're fantastic! There are plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities. Much of downtown Madison sits on an isthmus between Lake Mendota and Lake Monona; a smaller lake, Lake Wingra, is nearby. Canoes, rowboats, and kayaks are available for rental. Madison is a very bike-friendly town, with biking lanes on downtown streets, trails around Lake Monona and the University Arboretum, and numerous outlying trails. For residents with children, the Henry Vilas Zoo is a nice place to spend an afternoon. Several residents have learned to sail through the Hoofers Sailing Club. Hoofers also has clubs for horseback riding, scuba diving, and other activities. Devil's Lake (one of Wisconsin's many beautiful state parks) is less than an hour away, and offers camping, mountain biking, and rock climbing.
Friday nights during the summer will often find residents at the Union Terrace, enjoying the sunset and listening to live music (while downing good Wisconsin food and beverages, of course). Numerous annual events, including Rhythm & Booms, Paddle & Portage, Madison Art Fair on the Square, and Taste of Madison, keep things lively, drawing crowds from around the state and region. Of course, summer wouldn't be summer in Madison without Concerts on the Square.
Autumn is a favorite season. The magic of fall colors and crisp, clean air help one understand why the northern climes can be so attractive. The Farmer's Market (which runs every Saturday from late April to early November) is at full tilt. What better time to browse for your favorite veggies, grab some fresh bakery, or sip some hot apple cider? Watch out! Depending on the weekend, you might get caught up in the sea of red flooding to Camp Randall to cheer on the Badger football team or flowing back through town after the 5th Quarter with the UW Band!
Then there's winter. There is no getting around it - it's cold. But once you get a good jacket, hat, and gloves, you can join the crowds ice skating, sledding, and skiing outdoors. People stay in shape indoors, at the rock climbing gym and numerous health clubs. If eating sounds more appealing than a few hours at the gym, there is a large selection of restaurants ranging from the basics at State Street Brats to gourmet 'eclectic' cuisine at Coyote Capers or L'Etoile. Various ethnic restaurants feature cuisine from the Caribbean, Argentina, Afghanistan, Korea, Turkey, and elsewhere. And if coffee or tea is your thing, it's hard not to find something you like amongst the numerous offerings up and down State Street. The burgeoning, $200 million Overture Center for the Arts offers a variety of performances throughout the year. And for you shoppers, there are two medium-sized malls in Madison, with lots of small, eclectic shops on State Street. The University's Kohl Center and Field House offer venues in which to enjoy a full schedule of Badger / Big Ten sports, including volleyball, basketball, and hockey.
When the days grow longer and the snow begins to melt, we are reminded that spring is on its way. The academic year is winding down. Time, perhaps, to pause and reflect. Time, as well, to plan for another year of exciting activities! To help you with your plans, or just to find more information on our vibrant city, try City of Madison, Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, Visit Madison, or Madison.com.