Bucket lists? Too outdated and boring. This is The Bucky List. Now that you’ve made it to Madison, it’s time to experience it. These are just some of Bucky’s top picks for what to do in the City of Madison, at UW-Madison, and in their surroundings — from your first days after move-in during Wisconsin Welcome to your last days before commencement and beyond. This list will give you ideas to kick-start your Wisconsin Experience outside the classroom and set your college career up for success.
Explore the Arboretum.
The Arboretum is a great place to check out if you are looking to get outside. It features ecological communities, horticultural collections, effigy mounds, more than 17 miles of trails, and a visitors’ center. The Arboretum is the perfect place for active learning, reflection, creativity, land care, research, and recreation. Take a bike or the bus to the Arboretum to see where human, animal, and plant communities coexist.
Relax at Memorial Union.
Take a load off and relax or study at Memorial Union. Built in 1928, its striking architecture and signature “sunburst” chairs make it a Madison icon. Its outdoor seating area, Union Terrace, is a great place to relax and get some sun. Grab a scoop of delicious Babcock ice cream, or catch some live music at night. There’s a little something for everyone.
Get your bus pass.
The bus can be a great for getting around Madison, especially with Wisconsin’s cold winters. Did you know students get their bus passes for free? Pick up your Fall 2022 Bus Pass at Union South on August 29.
Walk through picturesque Picnic Point.
Want to get away from the hectic pace of student life? Picnic Point is a great place to unwind and decompress. From the shore, you’ll have a stunning view of Lake Monona and the entire isthmus. Not only is the view spectacular, it also contains several hiking trails and places to have a picnic (of course!).
Ride the 80 bus.
The 80 line is free to all, and its route has stops throughout campus. This makes the 80 bus one of the easiest and most convenient ways to navigate campus. For more info, check out the full schedule of routes on the Madison Metro website.
Explore Henry Vilas Zoo
Rent a kayak or canoe!
The gorgeous lakes surrounding Madison’s isthmus are what make Madison so special. Experience Lake Mendota by renting a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard from Memorial Union. Nothing beats a view of the city from the water!
Tour the State Capitol building.
Our State Capitol is one of the most beautiful in the country. Modeled after the National Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., the marble facade and spectacular painted interior are breathtaking. Have you been inside yet? Sign up for a tour at the Capitol website.
Hang out at Union South.
You may know and love the Memorial Union, but do you know its sister building, Union South? Union South has everything from a climbing wall to a live concert venue. This multi-purpose space is a perfect spot to recharge, grab a bite to eat, or see your favorite band perform at the Sett!
Get fit at the Nick.
The Nicholas Recreation Center is a state-of-the-art fitness and rec center. What’s more is that membership to all its facilities are included in your tuition! By being a student at UW-Madison, you’re automatically a member and can access the Nick (and other gyms) just by showing your Wiscard. Take advantage of this fantastic opportunity to get in shape or just hang out and shoot some hoops.
Walk your class schedule.
Your first day is fast approaching; you don’t want to spend it being lost and wandering around campus. There’s an easy solution: practice walking your schedule! Get a feel for where all your classes are located in relation to each other. Do this, and your first day will be smooth sailing.
Eat at State Street's Food Carts
Madison’s iconic State Street begins just east of Library Mall, where some of Madison’s many food carts can be found. Next time you’re in the area, why not grab some delicious empanadas for lunch? The meals here are too tasty and affordable to ignore.
Buy your books.
Are you ready to start classes? One of the most important steps to prepare is to pick up your textbooks ahead of time. Sometimes textbooks for more popular classes sell out quickly—you don’t want to be reading over a classmate’s shoulder until they restock! Head to University Bookstore to pick up your books, but that’s not all you can get there. They sell school and art supplies, computer accessories, and of course, Badger apparel. After you pick up your textbooks, how about picking up some red-and-white to wear to the next game day?
Register to vote.
Stroll through Olbrich Gardens.
Experience 16 acres of gorgeous landscapes and sweet-smelling flowers at Olbrich Botanical Gardens. The gardens are free to visit and open daily! Be sure not to miss the stunning Thai pavilion, gifted by the Thai government to UW-Madison in 2001.