Winter Bucket List in 2021 | Madison, WI

This winter has been different — with largely relying on outdoor activities to stay busy (and  the absence of sporting events, playdates, and large gatherings or events to keep us occupied during these cold months!). Cabin fever is real — so we have been doing our best to get out and about — here is a list of things I have done so far with my family this winter. I would love to hear from you – what have you and your family done to fend off cabin fever?!

Dine in a Globe or Dome

Our family has done this multiple times now – it’s a great way to get out for an afternoon. You can rent a globe or dome to dine or hang out… they are warmer than you would expect and you can still get some natural sunlight shining in on you! We usually take a board game or cards and some hot chocolate. They are sanitized in between uses and you are only exposed to the people you are in the dome with (which in our case is always our family of 5!). Here are the Madison, WI options.

Take a Ski or Snow Board Lesson

Many of the local ski resorts offer lessons (for kids and adults!), my kids have enjoyed snow boarding lessons in the past. It’s a great way to stay active in the winter.

Visit a State Park

Yes, it’s cold. But if you bundle up – it can be tolerable. State Parks are still fun to explore in the winter! Here is a list of WI State Parks.

Walk around Downtown Madison, WI 

There’s something magical about downtown — my kids love exploring. Even if it’s just to grab some hot chocolate to-go and then walking around. There’s some beautiful artwork still on display and the capitol lawn is always fun for kids to run around or to lay a blanket down (when it warms up a bit…!).


In a dome; snowboarding lesson (pre-Covid); Gibraltar Rock State Park; artwork in Downtown Madison

Ice Skating

There are more than a dozen outdoor ice skating rinks in the Madison area. We always enjoy going to the Edgewater and Monona Bank River Rink — with the reservation requirement, it is a safe and fun way to enjoy an afternoon or evening.

Take a Staycation

We have done several Madison, WI staycations this year. The hotels we have stayed at have had restrictions for the pool (limited # in at a time) – and some even offer reservations for time slots. We usually check in, go for a swim, order takeout, watch a movie and then swim again in the morning. Hotel rates are quite low right now — and it’s a safe and fun experience for the kids!

Walk on a Frozen Lake

My kids always think this is SO neat. You’ll want to use good judgment here and make sure the lake is truly frozen solid (this always makes me nervous, but luckily my husband is more an expert with determining if this is safe!). My kids were doing cartwheels and running circles — for some reason being on a frozen lake is more fun than just walking on a sidewalk… and it’s free to do!

Snow Tubing

If you haven’t gone snow tubing yet — here are some great places to check out! We also bought our own tubes this year – which you could take to any of these Madison area hills.


Ice skating at The Edgewater; staycation in Middleton; walking on Lake Mendota (pre-Covid); Snow Tubing at Cascade Mountain (pre-Covid)


Snowshoeing is a great activity for kids of all ages — rentals are available at Vilas Park and Rutabaga – as well as through the WI Hoofers. There are lots of great places in Madison, WI to go snowshoeing!

Visit a Dream Park

We often forget about the parks in the winter – but so long as you bundle up, they are still a great option! The 5 area Dream Parks are extra fun — and offer space around them to run around after you are done playing.

Check Out the Murals in Madison, WI

We love the many murals that local artists have painted our city with! Here is a list for where to find them!

Rent a Private Movie Theater

Marcus Theaters is now offering private rentals. Along with a couple families from our ‘quaranteam’ – we rented the theater for a showing of a kids movie. They allow up to 20 people (we had 15 between the 3 families) – cost was $149 (+tax) which made it so it was pretty comparable to what we would spend to pay for our family of 5 to go to the movies in non-pandemic times.

Watch a UW Volleyball, Women’s Basketball or Women’s Hockey Game on TV

At UW Women’s Hockey game right before the shutdown. Now we enjoy watching on tv!

We always LOVE going to UW women’s sporting events — we often go to at least two or three basketball games and last year we went to our first women’s hockey game… right before the shut down. But you can still watch them on tv!

Other things to keep busy: 

Artwork (kindness rocks are inexpensive and fun); color pictures or write letters for people in a retirement community near you; puzzles are great fun; books (many libraries are offering check out even if they are not fully open); find a game your whole family loves — we have been playing a lot of Monopoly Deal; Old Maid; Sorry; Life; Catan and UNO! Here are more ideas that I wrote last spring!


Alisa was born and raised in Iowa before attending Arizona State University. She then lived in Chicago, Georgia and Florida before settling in Madison. From her nomadic lifestyle grew a love for the beach, as well as a fondness for spicy food, sushi, white wine, southern charm, Diamondbacks baseball and idyllic ocean sunsets. Alisa and her husband, Joe, are parents to Ava Mae (August 2012) and twins, Nora & Jacob (March 2014). Alisa is a work-from-home mompreneur with a passion for business, fashion, fitness, community and all things mom. When she’s not enjoying time at home with her family, you can find her sweating it out on the tennis court, training for the next big race, pinning her heart out on Pinterest and exploring Madison with her little ones (and sweet Boston Terrier, Peaches) in tow.


  1. I loved your blog. I am from Sun Prarie WI. I have a 4 year old son. I must say pandemic was a difficult time to engage my son and also work. I would love to chat with you about your experiences and how you mange 3 kids and work. Hopefully we can connect with people like before pandemic days. Cannot wait for those days to come.


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