The summer solstice is behind us. The kids are home from school. And while most tweens would be content to post-up at home with their favorite video games, breaking up the routine is important for anyone. It’s important to continue learning throughout every phase of life. Getting out into the city to stimulate the mind is a great way to do this. So we’ve put together the top-9 can’t-miss activities for this summer. Get ready. Your summer bucket list just got a lot more exciting.

  1. Visit Cave of the Mounds 

The natural marvel is a quick portal into a different world. And it’s only 30 miles west of downtown Madison. The cave was discovered by accident in 1903 during a limestone mining project. Its glittering caverns have been preserved ever since. Stalactites drip from the ceiling in snowflake-unique formations. Stalagmites reach up to meet them from the ground. The cave gives a castle-like experience. Colorful crystal formations glitter in the light of the illuminated walkways.

As a bonus, this is a great way to escape the heat of a hot summer afternoon. Natural A/C floods the caverns. The temperature of the caves stays stagnant at 50degrees year-round. So you actually may need to bring a light jacket!

Admission is $18.95 for adults

Children tour for $10.95

Children 3 and under are free.

Cave of the Mounds is a popular spot in the summer so it’s recommended you buy your tickets in advance.

  1. Catch A Madison Mallards Game

Every quintessential American summer includes an afternoon at the ballpark. It’s fun to go see a game anytime, but the best time to go is on a firework night. Check the schedule and get tickets here.  

  1. Hit The Beach (Free!)

Pack your towel and some sunscreen and get ready for a beach day! This is what so many of us dream about during the darkest days of February. Gently lapping waves. The sun on your skin. Diving into the cool, refreshing water. It’s my favorite thing to bring a book and spend the afternoon deep in relaxation mode. But of course, if you’re a more active relaxer, you can rent a kayak or paddleboards from:

If paddling is something you’re interested in trying, but haven’t dipped your toes in the water yet, many of these places will give you a crash course.

Here are a few of the best beaches in town:

All these spots are fantastic. You could even hit a new spot every week.

  1. Henry Vilas Zoo (Free!)

This is a great one for the family. Not only is it educational… it’s also FREE. It’s one of the only free zoos in the country (there are only 8 others). Henry Vilas Zoo is supported entirely by community donations and generosity. There are 60 different types of animals at the zoo, everything from Aardvarks to Rhinos. Lemurs to Poison Dart Frogs. You can even watch polar bears from your table at the Glacier Grille.

If your children get excited about learning about the animals, the zoo offers several different Zoo Camps throughout the year. They’ll see behind the scenes, interact with animals, and learn about scientific problems solving. I almost wish they had a zoo camp for adults too!

  1. Tour the Capitol Building (Free!)

The architecture of the Wisconsin capitol building is iconic. It’s the most stunning feature of the Madison skyline. Inside of the building is a show-stopper too. Tours of the building were temporarily discontinued in 2020, but we’re so excited to hear that tours will Resume on Tuesday, July 6th (Thanks Pfizer and Moderna!) Tours are FREE and a great way to get your children interested in local history. You will also be able to check out the museum and observation deck on the 6th floor. Here, you’ll see unique vantages of the city and lakes below. 

  1. Sina Davis Movies in the Park (Free!)

This film series shows family-friendly movies in Madison parks. Up next on the itinerary is Tom & Jerry and The Boss Baby. Bring a blanket and a picnic, and watch a movie under the stars with your friends and neighbors. 

  1. Madison’s Children Museum 

The Children’s Museum has 13 different exhibits designed to inspire the imagination, get active, and learn useful skills. Their exhibits focus on playful, joyful learning. Tickets are affordable at only $12. And if you have fun with your family, consider coming back for the 21+ “adult swim” nights, re-starting this fall. There will be kegs of beer, food, and opportunities to tap into your inner child. 

  1. Uof W Geology Museum (Free!)

There are hundreds of interesting rocks, minerals, and fossils on display at the museum. Even some fully formed dinosaur skeletons! It would be a fun rainy day activity to watch Jurrasic Park with the family and then head over to the Geology Museum to see some real-life dinosaur bones.

If you have younger children, be sure to stop by the museum storytime on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month at 10:30. They’ll read a story together, view some unique specimens, and do a craft together. No reservations are required unless you’re attending with a large group.

  1. Hit the Arcades 

There are a couple of different awesome arcades in Madison. They have nostalgic games like pinball, skeeball, Pacman, and more. Even if your kids are really into VR or Skyrim, these classic games can hook ya. Here are a few you can check out:

Have Fun! 

The Hub wishes you a summer of fun! If you try out any of these ideas, be sure to show us your photos on Instagram. Hope to see you around!