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The Badger Funner Summer List

This fair city is chock full of fun things to do in the summertime, whether you’re a student taking a study break or an alum on an adventure back to your alma mater.

John Allen
June 02, 2015
Photo Courtesy UW-Madison Archives, S08331

Every May, once spring term comes to an end, thousands of students (and faculty) clear out of town for three months. Thousands ... but not all.

During the summer months, Madison offers the stick-around crowd plenty of ways to fill long days and short nights. We asked Badger Insider readers to suggest the best things for students to do, should they stay in town. Here are the top seven options for your Badger summer to-do list.

7. Take a Class

(It’s true — you can learn something while at summer school.)

I went to summer school and lived at what was then the SAE house. You spent the morning in classes and the afternoon on the pier. Back then there were always men who loved to buy coeds drinks! The atmosphere was about as laid back as anyone could want. You would manage to get some study time in so that your parents wouldn’t figure out that you only wanted to go to summer school for the fun. That summer was my last taste of a carefree childhood, and I will always cherish those eight weeks.

—Carolyn Griffin Stiles '64
Lakewood, Colorado

6. Get a Job

(It's the other way to learn.)

My summer student job was helping in the emergency room at the university hospital. Wow. LSD was the new adventure. Sometimes the ride was good, and sometimes not so good. Kids would try to come down with seconal and slide too far — usually into the emergency room, where they “thought” that if they lay down they would just die, so they came in on the stretcher sitting up! The other common surprise we would encounter was that students whose mothers always kept a clean house didn’t expect that group living (and sleeping) brought more to the party than were wanted (bed bugs and crabs). Not cool, man, not cool.

—Pam Fae Nelson Carlson '68
Kiawah, South Carolina

5. Hike at Devil’s Lake.

(Take a picnic. Climb a rock.)

In my day, warmer weather meant outside activities — sailing, hiking, etc. — at least until finals.

—Mark Edelstein '72
Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan

4. Eat ice cream

(Every day.)

Nothing compares to a summer afternoon of sailing on Lake Mendota and observing the campus shoreline, followed by a doublescoop butter pecan ice cream cone. Life doesn’t get any better than this!

—Glen Volkman '64
Eau Claire, Wisconsin

3. Exercise

(Every day. See number 4.)

On scorching-hot days, go to the new climbing facility at Union South. Then go for a swim in the lake or the pool.

—Elizabeth Zinecker '88
Berwyn Heights, Maryland

Madison Ultimate Frisbee Association (MUFA) summer league — the best start to any summer night.

—Brian Frederick '05, MS'06, MD'10
Minneapolis, Minnesota

2. Hang out at the Terrace


Sit down out back by the Union Terrace with some ice cream or an iced tea, and put your feet up with something to read while relaxing and watching the scenery. It will be sure to lower your blood pressure.

—Richard Feldman '92
Summit, New Jersey

1. Go boating on Lake Mendota

Sailing is a lifetime activity and one that will reward forever. Cruise, day-sail, race, whatever — just get out on the water!

—Gail Turluck
Richland, Michigan

Go sailing — never a better opportunity.

—Alan Voss '70, MS'71
Signal Mountain, Tennessee

Rent a boat with a motor from the boat house. Bring a lunch and your favorite girl or a bunch of friends, and motor out to Picnic Point for a picnic.

—Ed Hida '53
Wauwatosa, Wisconsin

In the summer of 1973, I stayed in Madison, joined Hoofers, and learned to sail on Lake Mendota. Tipping a sailboat, I found out, was easy. The challenge was to get it upright again in the wind and waves. Let’s just say I became very skilled at this maneuver.

—Alan Strobusch MD'80
Waupaca, Wisconsin

I spent a couple of summers in Madison either going to summer school or working at my student job at the State Historical Society, and it was a fabulous place to be. My first sailing lesson on Lake Mendota coincided with a storm coming in out of the northwest. Fortunately, my instructor kept me from turtling the dinghy. Suffice it to say, we made a flying trip back to the dock.

—Carmen Winkler Van Abel '71
Potter, Wisconsin

go sailng; exercise; babcock ice cream; funky part-time job; see an outdoor movie at the Union; Hike at Devil's Lake; hang out at the Terrace; take an unusual electice; shop the farmer's market; stargaze at washburn observatory

We asked our Facebook fans to help UW students make the most of their time off by voting for their favorite thing to do in Madison over the summer — and here's what they said! (Don't see one of your favorites on this list? Tell us about it! Visit to post on our wall.

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