What to do in Fall/Winter in Madison

Let’s be honest, in Madison there are two seasons:  Summer and the rest of the year.  

Summer is great!  Festivals, beaches, sun…

As for the rest of the year…

Well, the rest of the year consists of a delightful combination of snow, rain, mud, slush, leaves, humidity, and then more snow.  I tend to hermit myself in the winter, or rather, when the weather is lousy.  It’s too easy to stay inside and veg out reading books for the SIX MONTHS THAT IT’S LIKE THIS instead of going out and doing great things.

So, like  my summer list, I am making a list of things to do to take advantage of our time in this lovely season.

Note: you may notice that this list is longer than my summer list.  This is because I am looking to not go insane for inspiration.


  • Go to Half Pint Resale to get all school clothes!  Woo hoo!
  • Gymnastics lessons for Liam (to work on more gross motor activites)
  • Fall leaves walk at Olbrich Gardens
  • Big birthday party for Liam in October
  • Apple Orchard (we used to go to Eplegaarden, but this one is simpler and easier.  Plus they have hayride events a few times 🙂
  • Hayride
  • Make applesauce together + can it
  • Trick or Treat on State Street
  • Get a great costume for Halloween
  • Have bonfire in backyard and roast marshmallows
  • Make vegan pumpkin pie together
  • Pumpkin picking at Schusters 
  • Rake leaves together and jump into piles
  • Make ginger molasses cookies together
  • Go to last outdoor farmers market
  • Go see Madison Ballet (normally way more expensive) at Kids in the Rotunda on Nov 12
  • Visit farm to get turkey together, see where the turkeys are raised
  • Make local only Thanksgiving for friends and family
  • Go to Winter Farmer’s Market
  • Teach Liam how to ice skate (we did it last year with more fighting than skating)
  • Sled at Olbrich park
  • Snowball fight
  • Decorate playroom with paper snowflakes
  • Make snow angels
  • Make a snow castle
  • Go to Olbrich Conservatory
  • Teach Liam and/or expose him to downhill skiiing
  • Teach Liam how to make a great snowman
  • Go to Christmas tree farm and cut down our own
  • Decorate Tree
  • Make presents for family members
  • Make cookie plates for friends
  • Make cookies for Santa
  • Buy new stockings and add special things to them
  • Make clay ornaments together
  • See Holiday Trains at Olbrich
  • Host New Years Eve Party, if we’re in town
  • Walk on frozen lake Monona
  • Go to Holiday in Lights at Olin Park
  • Long walk to find animal footprints in the snow
  • Build snow fort
  • Go to the Arboretum and discover
  • Make Valentines Day cards for classmates
And when things are getting to that LONG LONG period when there is still winter, but no fun holidays to distract you from the blah-ness of it all:
  • Play board games together
  • Illustrate a snowy day poem
  • Have winter movie marathon (Polar Express, Elf, Happy Feet, etc)
  • Make the whole room a fort
  • See Twinkle Twonkle at Overture Center 
  • Go to Madison Winter Festival
  • Force spring bulbs in jars so you can see the root growth
  • Go bowling
  • Go to Cave of the Mounds, where no matter what temp it is outside it is always 50 degrees inside here
  • Most people make gingerbread houses during the holiday season, I say that we make our after, when things have cooled down and you can go candy crazy!  Look here for a super easy way to make it!
  • Paint your own pottery studio
  • Try climbing for the first time at Boulders Climbing Gym
  •  Book camping trip for the summer
That’s all I’ve got for now… what are your thoughts?  Any winter must dos that I am missing here?