Eight. Because that’s probably about how many degrees it is outside right now.
Wisconsinites love to complain about winter. How cold it is walking to class, how early it gets dark, how treacherous it is to drive … Okay, that last one’s valid. But let’s face it: winter is just one of the many things that make our state so wonderful. Here are eight of our favorite things about Madison winters. Did yours make the list?
1. Outdoor ice skating
Mom always said fresh air is good for you … even if that fresh air is in the single digits. Plenty of outdoor spaces transform into ice rinks during the winter months — from the Edgewater Hotel to Tenney Park. Make like the Peanuts kids and get outside.
2. Tray sledding on Bascom
If you didn’t check tray sledding off your bucket list when you were a student (shame on you), it’s never too late! As you may need help securing a tray, it might be time to team up with your Badger kid/grandkid/niece/nephew/what-have-you. Just be sure to bring it back when you’re done! (And remember: you break it, you buy it.)
3. Warming up in the Rathskeller
After you’ve shredded some powder on Bascom, head over to Memorial Union to thaw. Split a pitcher (or two) around the fire and swap battle stories of who actually had the hardest final exams.
4. Admit it — it looks beautiful
There are few things more peaceful than waking up to that perfectly powdered dusting of a first snowfall. Lake Mendota freezes over and tree branches become translucent under layers of ice. Suddenly, we’ve been transported to Narnia.
5. Hoofer Winter Carnival
Snowshoeing to Picnic Point for a bonfire? Don’t mind if we do. Follow that up with horse-drawn carriage rides across campus, and you’ve got yourself a proper winter carnival.
6. Isthmus Beer and Cheese Fest
For the past seven Januarys, the Isthmus has taken over the Exhibition Hall at the Alliant Energy Center to celebrate beer, cheese, and general merriment. Nearly 100 brewers and cheesemakers set up shop to offer samples throughout the day. And really, what better way is there to escape the cold than to a place with (almost) unlimited beer and cheese?
7. Holiday shopping on state street
Shopping local is ingrained in Madison culture. Grab some hot chocolate from a coffee shop and admire the window displays up and down State Street. We guarantee you can find the perfect present for that special someone.
8. The return of spring
Even with all of the great winter activities, after four to seven months of grumbling and pining for warmth, spring finally arrives. Orange, green, and yellow dot the Memorial Union Terrace. Lake Mendota beings to thaw. Frisbees return to Bascom Hill. Worth the wait? We think so.