I hit the streets for this writing assignment. I asked the cold hard truth to the people that passed me. Or rather, I hit the campus sidewalks and people passing in the Trojan Center. I asked them varying questions about Madison. “What’s your favorite thing to do in Madison?” “What have you been wanting to do in Madison since you started school at DSU?” “Have you been to the lakes yet?” My most popular question I asked was, “What do you when you are not doing homework/working?” Parallel to the typical college life, many answers were, “Netflix. Hang out with friends. Play video games.” No one mentioned exploring their town that most of them will live in for the next couple years.
The town of Madison is not your typical college town. It is a rather small college town that thrives on small businesses, a connected community, and farming. Don’t let the population of 6,500 fool you though: there is plenty to do and discover in and around Madison. Before the snow comes for the winter, here are a few things you can do while you’re here in Madison:
The Lakes: These are the three main lakes around Madison. There are smaller ones a bit farther away, but these three are the easiest to get to.
- Lake Herman is a state park, so to save your ramen noodle money, I recommend parking outside of the state park entrance. Right by the entrance, there is a trail entrance. This trail winds through grassland and eventually leads into a path enveloped by trees. It is a natural paradise away from the stress of school.
- Lake Madison is right off of Highway 34. There is a small public beach that you may go to, but my favorite spot is Johnson’s Point. Johnson’s point is right off of Highway 34, and it instantly slopes down away from the busy highway into a rounded gravel road splaying with rocks and trees. There is a long sanded beach and small bay once you get to the end of the gravel road. This spot is far quieter than Lake Herman, so if you are looking for solitude, Johnson’s Point on Lake Madison is your answer.
- Lake Brandt is a bit of a drive from Madison, but it is worth it. Heading east on Highway 34, you will turn right before where there are two small ponds on either side of the road. There will be a small sign guiding you to Lake Brandt. Turn right on this sign, and drive, drive, drive, and then drive some more until you see the lake on your left. You will see a small sign for a public beach area. This beach is very long, and is studded with cotton woods. It has the softest sand of all three lakes, and is by far the least busy. Bonus: There is a sandbar that you can walk to the other side of the lake on when the water is low enough. Pretty cool!
Shopping Downtown Madison – Most of the shops of downtown Madison close at 5:30, so take a break from homework in between classes, and grab a $20 bill, and walk up and down Egan Ave. You will be surprised at the unique little shops and restaurants. Each one is very personable, filled with good service and kind people. There are even several second hand shops, so yes, you WILL be able to afford something
Madison Public Library – If you are an avid reader, and are looking to get off campus now and then, hit up the Madison Public Library. Library cards are free, so it’s very easy to become a member. The library offers a quiet atmosphere, with plenty of squashy armchairs and comfortable places to sit to bury your head in a book. Bonus: With your library card, you are able to download hundreds (and perhaps thousands) of free books at your leisure.
Disc Golf – Several parks in Madison have disc golf courses. Yes, these will require purchasing discs to throw at the course, but you are able to use them year after year. Purchase some with some friends, and play a few games before the cold sets in.
Otherwise, there is still a lot to find out about Madison. Get in your car, ride your bike, or walk around of Madison to find its hideouts and places of pleasure. The above are just a few ideas to get you started. It’s up to you to explore the town now. Have fun!