8 ways to enjoy Lake Mendota and Lake Monona this summer

June 20, 2018 By Kayla Huynh

UW-Madison students swim in Lake Mendota in the summer. Photo: Jeff Miller

What makes UW–Madison so unique is that its campus is bordered by two beautiful lakes. With UW summer in full swing, the days are hot — but luckily — the water in Lake Mendota and Lake Monona is cool. And what better time is there to take advantage of the lakes than in the summer?

Whether you’re looking to cool off in the heat or get some exercise outdoors, here is a list of eight ways to enjoy Lake Mendota and Lake Monona this summer.

1. Dive in from the Memorial Union pier

The Memorial Union Terrace and its swimming pier — one of the campus’s most popular spots — attract a crowd as daylight wanes. Photo: Jeff Miller

The perfect way to get some sun is a swim by The Terrace! As one of the most popular piers in Madison with over 20,000 visitors annually, you’ll be sure to see a familiar face or meet someone new.

2. Paddleboard alone or with friends

Rent the SUP Squatch, an 8-person stand-up paddleboard, and work as a team to propel and steer this behemoth. Outdoor UW

Looking for a challenge? Rent a stand-up paddleboard from Outdoor UW! Try it out alone or grab some friends and rent the SUP Squatch, an eight-person stand-up paddleboard. Outdoor UW also offers instructors for beginners.

3. Channel your inner zen in a yoga class on the water

Photo: Yoga participants on paddleboards

Balancing act: More ambitious are these members of a standup paddleboard yoga class, which proceeded despite an approaching storm over Lake Mendota near the Terrace. Photo: Jeff Miller

Practice meditation, mindfulness and flexibility by participating in a paddleboard yoga class. You’ll be able to test your balance and strengthen your muscles with fun and challenging yoga classes offered through Outdoor UW.

4. Navigate the waves by sailboat

Instructors guide students in rigging their a sailboat a lesson on Lake Mendota. Photo: Jeff Miller

Take a free sailing lesson with the Hoofers Sailing Club — they’ll show you everything you need to know about navigating the lake by boat.

5. Explore new depths with scuba diving

Community members can participate in scuba diving lessons offered by Hoofer Scuba Club. Hoofer Scuba Club

Also offered by Hoofers, this club offers scuba diving lessons that are open to the public. After a few classes, you’ll be a stronger swimmer and you’ll also be able to dive to new depths in the lakes.  

6. Rent a canoe or kayak

Thanks to a kayaking class offered by Hoofers Outing Club, students enjoy the gentle waves on Lake Mendota. Photo: Bryce Richter

Whether you’re enjoying the lakes in solitude or on an adventure with a partner, a kayak or canoe trip is a great way to relax and appreciate Madison’s beauty. Prepare for a fun day on the lake and be sure to rent a canoe or kayak from Outdoor UW.

7. See the sights of Madison on a Lake Mendota or Lake Monona boat trip

Fellows cruise around Lake Mendota on a pontoon boat.

Try out a cruise, offered by various companies, or a pontoon boat ride offered by Madison School and Community Recreation. These cruises will take you around the lake where you’ll see some of the most picturesque views in Madison.

8. Go fishing with friends

With sunlight dappling Lake Wingra near the UW–Madison Arboretum, two fishing enthusiasts hope for a bite. Photo: Bryce Richter

Grab your bait and fishing rod! There are plenty of boat landings to fish from in Madison. On a breezy summer day, you can go fishing with friends, bask in the sun or see a view of the Capitol building in the distance.