With thousands of students back home working at the municipal pool or playing video games or whatever they do, downtown Madison is a horse of a different color. State Street, usually the hub of Urban Outfitters-clad co-eds by day and drunk, Qdoba-chomping 20-somethings by night, is comparably desolate. Monroe Street, the Vilas neighborhood and the Capitol area, while not as bustling as the main thoroughfare, have also seen a cut in passersby. While upsetting for some, many of us enjoy the ease of transit and access to normally-crowded venues. The haunts formerly fortressed by students are now ours to inhabit.
The Memorial Union Terrace: It doesn't get much better than a warm summer night with pitchers of Spotted Cow, a deck of cards and good friends. Bonus points if the music is half decent. The Union Terrace hosts this weekend's Isthmus Jazz Festival, a weekly Bluegrass series to showcase Madison locals, as well as the Behind the Beat jazz showcase and many other summer events in the Hot Summer Nights series. The Summer Rentals is another terrace option, with canoes, tents and croquet sets available daily. Babcock ice cream till midnight is a big draw, as is the fact that you wont have to wait in line for hours to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Mickies Dairy Bar: It's pretty much a waste of your Sunday morning to attempt breakfast/brunch during the academic year. Kids pile in, raring to soak up last night's Natural Light with greasy pancakes and plates full of bacon and eggs. The line at the dairy bar, particularly during football Saturdays, is always out the door. But the wait time may be cut considerably now that the College Court and Randall Station apartment complexes have emptied. These days, all you have to worry about is getting there before they close at 2:30 p.m.
State Street bars: Sure, there are some that will always be college kid turf - State Street Brats, Kollege Klub - but others are now fair game for the rest of us. Often the site of hipster conventions late at night, many Saturday afternoons find the Plaza Tavern a bustling summer lunch spot for local families. Even the demographics of bars on the east side of the Capitol have shifted. The Essen Haus is no longer chock-full of 21st birthday celebrations, while the hidden beer garden at the Great Dane on Doty and King is now almost serene.
Copps on University and Midvale: As the largest full-service grocery store to campus, this supermarket is often a nightmare during the academic year. Visiting parents pack their kids' carts with Easy Mac and Minute Rice, and the parking lot is gridlock Wednesday through Sunday. But with students at home mooching off their parents' fridges all summer, you can shop in peace. Not only that, but the shelves are practically overflowing with microwavable meals!
In addition to these local stops, countless chain restaurants and retail shops are eager to replace lost business. So get yourself a five-dollar foot-long sub and some Blue Moon, head to the terrace, and revel in your city, minus 40 grand or so.