For 168 years, this campus has been a catalyst for the extraordinary. As a public land-grant university and prolific research institution, our students and faculty members partake in a world-class education and solve real-world problems. We’ve changed the way the nation takes its vitamins and brought flamingos to Bascom Hill. We’ve inspired satirists and senators alike. We’ve fearlessly sifted and winnowed to find today’s truths. And with the Wisconsin Idea as our guiding principle, we’re not only changing the 936 acres we call home—Badgers are also creating a better future for Wisconsin, the nation, and the world.
Here are a few ideas for exploring campus and the lakeshore. For many more ideas, please visit the Campus and Visitor Relations website.
Take a walk, bicycle ride, or run along the shore of Lake Mendota on the Howard Temin Lakeshore Path. You can access the path at the Memorial Union on Langdon Street and continue west for 1.5 miles where you will reach the entrance to Picnic Point. Picnic Point is a peninsula and nature preserve for foot traffic only. You can walk or run out to the end of the point (.75 miles) for great views of Madison and campus. If you are interested in more information on the University of Wisconsin Lakeshore Nature Preserve, please visit their website.
The Memorial Union, is located at the corner of Park and Langdon Streets is a legendary campus hangout. The Memorial Union Terrace on Lake Mendota offers lovely views, beautiful sunsets, and great people watching. The Union Terrace is a great place to enjoy a cold local beer or The University of Wisconsin’s famous Babcock Dairy Ice Cream. You can rent a canoe at the Memorial Union Hoofer’s Boathouse, located on the lakeshore just west of the Union Terrace.
Walk up Bascom Hill (at the foot of State Street/Library Mall), and when you reach the top continue to the right along Observatory Drive through the center of campus. Continue up the next rise to Observatory Hill, and enjoy the view. Continue on west along Observatory Drive down the hill to the Allen Centennial Gardens (corner of Observatory and Babcock). Created on the 2.5-acre site of a historic Victorian home that once served as a residence for university deans, the 22 magnificent gardens represent gardening styles from around the world.
For a change of scenery on your way back to State Street/Library mall/Memorial Union area, head north when you leave the Allen Gardens toward the Porter Boathouse (home of the UW Crew). Just behind the boathouse, you can pick up the Lakeshore Path (head to the right – east) back to the Memorial Union. This walk is 1.3 miles round trip. The Lakeshore Path is flat, the rest of the walk is quite hilly. The Lakeshore Path is not well lit, so use caution after dark.
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