Not sure what to do in the age of COVID-19? You’re not alone! As lockdown is lifted and restrictions are loosened, many people are wondering how they can get out and enjoy Madison safely.

At the time of publication, Dane County is currently in Phase 2 of a structured reopening plan. Many businesses are operating at 50% capacity with extra safety measures in place.

The good news is there are plenty of activities to do in Madison that are fun and socially distant. We can still enjoy our city while maintaining good practices to prevent community spread of COVID-19.

Here are a few ideas for fun outdoor things to do in Madison:

Biking Trails Madison Wisconsin


Biking Trails

Madison is one of the top biking cities in the county! Take advantage by exploring Lake Monona Loop, a 12-mile loop around Lake Monona with great views of the city. You’ll pass by Monona Terrace, Olbrich Gardens, Olin Park, and lots of beautiful lakeside neighborhoods.

Looking for a good place to stop? There are plenty of parks and beaches to check out like Yahara Place Park and BB Clarke Beach. And don’t forget to grab a bite at local favorite Monona Bait & Ice Cream Shop.

No bike? No problem. Madison BCycle rents e-bikes from over 45 stations around town, or visit Machinery Row Bicycles for more options. You can also opt to walk, run, or even rollerblade!

If you're looking for more bike routes, look no further! There are more than 200 miles of biking trails in and around Madison. Check out the extensive bike trails map for more information.

Be sure to bring plenty of water, sunglasses, sunscreen, and a helmet!

Hiking Trails

If you're not into biking, maybe hiking is more your speed. There's nothing like taking a hike in nature to feel refreshed and rejuvenated. And you don't have to go far to find it! There are great hiking options right here in town. 

UW-Madison Arboretum offers a scenic hiking route looping around Lake Wingra through Vilas Park and Nakoma. And there are plenty of walking trails on campus along the shores of Lake Mendota that go past Memorial Union Terrace out to Picnic Point.

If you'd like to venture out beyond Madison, you can check out Devil's Lake State Park, Ice Age National Scenic TrailGlacial Drumlin State Trail, or Sugar River State Trail.

Paddle Sports

Lakes are for more than just looking at, you know? Get out on the water this summer! You can rent kayaks, canoes, stand-up paddle boards, paddle boats, and more. Plus, you can’t get much more socially distant than floating in the middle of a lake, so...

There are plenty of options to book your own paddlesport adventure. Wingra Boats is located just off Monroe Street for rentals on Lake Wingra. Brittingham Boats is near downtown Madison in Monona Bay. Olbrich Park Boat Rentals at (you guessed it) Olbrich Park rents boats on Lake Monona.

Book your rental and time slot in advance, and check each rental company website for the most up-to-date information on restrictions and policies.

Outdoor Dining

Dining al fresco is set to be more popular than ever this summer, as outdoor dining allows patrons to sit down and enjoy a meal in the fresh air.

Fortunately, the city of Madison recognized the need for more outdoor dining options and implemented the Madison “Streatery” Restaurant Program. Restaurants will be allowed to expand outdoor dining onto public sidewalks, on-street parking areas, or private parking lots. The program is designed to safely increase restaurant capacity and support local businesses.

Prepare to see more “streateries” in Madison this summer, including Lucille, Merchant, Marigold Kitchen, Settle Down Tavern, and many more.

Madison Wisconsin Park


Picnic in the Park

In addition to outdoor dining, many restaurants are continuing to offer great options for take-out and curbside pick-up. Why not take your goodies with you to a picnic in the park? There are plenty of parks to choose from, with plenty of space and fresh air to enjoy your meal.

Try James Madison Park for a view of Lake Mendota. Or check out some near-eastside favorites like Orton Park, Yahara Place Park, or Tenney Park.

Have Fun

No matter what you do, continue to follow guidelines from public health experts: practice social distancing, wash your hands, and wear a mask when appropriate.

Local businesses may have their own policies to help keep you safe too. Be sure to check with individual businesses before visiting for updated information about rules and restrictions.

Stay safe, be well, and have fun!