There are over 6,000 acres of parkland in Madison. To reserve a park for parties and picnics, contact the Parks Dept. at 608-266-4711. For a list of all Madison city parks, see www.cityofmadison.com/parks/ParkOnly_Addresss.pdf. These are some of the major players.
Allen Centennial Gardens
Wander through this spectacular campus garden daily from 7 am until dusk.
620 Babcock Dr., 53706
A favorite near-east hangout. Beach with lifeguard services/showers.
835 Spaight St., 53703
Popular fishing spot; home of the Camp Randall Rowing Club and Brittingham Boats, with canoe, kayak, stand-up paddleboard rentals; yoga, tai chi, a cafe and more.
701 W. Brittingham Pl., 53715
Camp Randall Rowing Club, 608-256-3636; Brittingham Boats, 608-250-2555
New urban park with open space, amphitheater, pavilion, with a skatepark and playground yet to be developed.
East Wilson between Brearly and Baldwin
A conservation park and the largest wetlands in Dane County at 1218 acres. Hiking and x-country skiing, canoe launch.
6000 N. Sherman Ave., 53704
Edna Taylor Park
Oak savanna and wetland restorations, Indian mounds.
802 Femrite Dr., 53716
Steep sledding, lighted x-country ski trails, ice skating rentals, disc golf, tennis courts; new splash park opening Aug. 2014.
1250 McKenna Blvd., 53719
Restored 19th-century ramble-style children's park originally designed by noted landscape architect Jens Jensen.
602 Glenway St., 53711
Home of Madison's public pool.
1402 Wingra Creek Pkwy., 53715
State-owned. Near grounds of the Mendota Mental Health Institute. Fishing and birding spot, walking trails. Dogs allowed on-leash.
Hiking trails, terrifying sledding hill, disc golf course, trillium in the spring and view of the city.
4302 Milwaukee St., 53714
Scenic overlook at Sunset Point, 12 restored historic stone fireplaces, hiking trails, two shelters.
3902 Regent St., 53705
Historic boathouse and home to the Gates of Heaven, the fourth-oldest surviving synagogue in the nation (rentable for events). Basketball, volleyball, beach; canoe and kayak rental, 608-261-9252.
614 E. Gorham St., 53703
Boat launch ramps on Lake Monona.
S. Blair St. and John Nolen Dr., 53703
Beach, boat launch, sand volleyball. You may think this is in Middleton. But it's not.
2101 Allen Blvd., Middleton, 53562
McKee Farms Park
Shelter, soccer fields, tennis courts, volleyball, dream playground, splash pad.
Off Hwy PD (McKee Rd.), Fitchburg
Fourteen acres of outdoor display gardens including the Thai Pavilion. Educational programs, art exhibits, Schumacher library (gardening reference center), gift shop. Weddings and other events; meeting room and exhibition spaces.
3330 Atwood Ave., 53704
Beach, boat launch. Tennis, soccer, sand volleyball, basketball, softball.
3527 Atwood Ave., 53704
Great view of the city. Historic pavilion is rentable and perfect for parties and dances.
1155 Olin-Turville Ct., 53715
Owen Conservation Park
93 acres, 3.4 miles of trail, prairie, x-country skiing.
6021 Old Sauk Rd., 53705
Off-leash dog exercise area, 12 tennis courts.
204 Bram St., 53713
16.9 acres of urban jungle open to mountain biking and folks with dogs.
3102 Stevens St., 53705
Quarry Ridge Recreation Area
53-acre Fitchburg park with off-road bicycling, hiking, shelter, restrooms, picnic tables.
2740 Fitchrona Rd., Fitchburg
Shelter, soccer fields, and Madison's only cricket field. Yes, cricket. New splash park opening Aug. 2014.
1818 Portage Rd., 53703
Off-leash prairie-type exercise area for dogs.
4517 Sycamore Ave., 53704
Site of the locks. In winter, a popular ice-skating rink on the lagoon. Breakwater, fishing, boat launch, beach.
1440 E. Johnson St. (park); 1254 Sherman Ave. (beach), 53703
Prairie, cross-country skiing.
1201 Olin Turville Ct., 53715
Features the restored prairies, forests and wetlands of pre-settlement Wisconsin. 1,260 acres with trees, shrubs and a world-famous lilac collection.
1207 Seminole Hwy., 53711
UW-Madison Lakeshore Nature Preserve
Three hundred acres of woods, prairie and wetlands along the shores of Lake Mendota on the UW-Madison campus featuring Picnic Point, the Lakeshore Path and Indian mounds. To reserve a fire ring at Picnic Point, contact Campus Event Services at 608-262-2511.
Campus, off University Bay Drive
Free zoo; playground with an old-woman-who-lived-in-a-shoe slide, carousel in the summer and a sandy beach on a lake that doesn't allow motorboats.
702 S. Randall Ave., 53715
Free. Hours: 9:30 am-5 pm daily. Children's zoo open year-round.
Henry Vilas Park, 702 S. Randall Ave., 53715
Ronda Schwetz, Zoo Director, 608-266-4732
Off-leash dog exercise area along the lagoon, boat launch, skating, beach, soccer, tennis. Home of the Madison Mallards. Big sledding hill.
2390 N. Sherman Ave.; 1101 Woodward Dr. (beach), 53704
Canoe and paddle boat rental available; great for sailing on a sheltered lake.
824 Knickerbocker St., 53711
Includes a dream park playground for kids. Site of the Monona pool.
Nichols Rd. and Winnequah Rd., Monona