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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Joy

My Summer 2018 Bucket List: What to do in Chicago, Madison, and Everywhere in Between!

Updated: Dec 12, 2018

Are you ready for a super awful cliche? Because here it is: I absolutely live for summer!

Yes, I know a lot of people say that, but it’s so true for me! I thrive on the long, hot summer days that can be filled with outdoor adventures, relaxation, and unforgettable moments. Luckily, I have a job that allows me to take full advantage of summertime weather and events. If you’re looking for some suggestions, scroll down to see a list of all the things I’m planning to do this year around the Wisconsin/Illinois state-line to make Summer 2018 a memorable one!

Taste of Chicago and/or Taste of Madison: Food trucks, pop-up vendors, unique cuisine I’ve never tried before - what more could I ask for? Last year I went to the Taste of Chicago in Grant Park for the first time, and despite it being insanely busy and pretty hot that day, I had a great time walking around and trying new foods (including alligator bites!) from local restaurants in the city. I’m hoping to make it there again, and maybe hit up the Taste of Madison later in the summer as well! Here are the dates for this year’s Tastes:

Taste of Chicago: July 11-15

Taste of Madison: September 1-2

Farmers’ Market: I love eating and cooking with fresh produce, and you can’t get much fresher than what you can find at the farmers’ market! I try to get to the market on the weekends at least once or twice during the summer. Madison has a huge, super popular one on Saturday mornings around the state capital that I’m hoping to get up bright and early for one day this summer!

Go to a baseball game: I’m not sure you can imagine an American summer without thinking about baseball. While I’m not a super fan by any means, I’d like to catch a Brewers or Cubs game this year and tailgate with some friends beforehand! Miller Park in Milwaukee is the perfect spot for pre-game celebrations.

Go hiking! My favorite summer hiking spots include: Devil’s Lake State Park (Baraboo, WI), Starved Rock State Park (Oglesby, IL), Rock Cut State Park (Rockford, IL), Whitefish Dunes State Park (Door County, WI)

Memorial Union Terrace: Ever feel like going back in time to relive your college days, but then you remember the sleepless nights, homework, finals, midterms, hangovers, ect., ect.? If you’re just looking for a taste of college (without all of the worst parts), I’d highly recommend grabbing a few friends and heading to Memorial Union Terrace in dowtntown Madison, WI for a pitcher of beer on a Friday or Saturday. If the weather cooperates, it’s the perfect spot to sip on a drink while listening to some live music and taking in the views of Lake Mendota.

Sit by a campfire: This one is kind of a given for me, and I’ll probably (hopefully) end up doing this more than just once over the course of the summer, but I figured it was still noteworthy for this post. One of my favorite (and yummiest) summertime activities I always do is roast hotdogs and s’mores over a campfire! (Okay, and have a few drinks by it, too)

Drive-in movie theater: Last summer I went with my boyfriend to a drive-in theater for the first time and it was so much fun! We actually went on the last night that the theater was open, and since we planned it so last minute, I don’t think we enjoyed it to its full potential (we got there late and we had to leave early). This year, I’m determined to load an obscene amount of pillows, blankets, and snacks into the back of my SUV and hit up the Highway 18 Outdoor Theater in Jefferson, WI.

Lake activities: Wisconsin is known for its lakes and various activities you can do on them. I’m hoping to do some boating and stand-up paddle-boarding or kayaking this summer. Devil’s Lake is a great option for renting paddle-boards or kayaks, but I personally like floating on Lake Wingra in Madison more. I’m definitely looking forward to getting out on the water this summer!

Picnic date at a winery: I love the idea of packing up picnic foods that pair well with wine (cheese, crackers, grapes, chocolate, ect.), purchasing a bottle of locally-made vino, and enjoying someone’s company while overlooking a vineyard. I’m going to make an effort to make that happen this summer. My eyes are set on Wollersheim Winery in Baraboo, WI or DC Estate Winery in Beloit, WI.

Go Golfing: I just played golf for the first time in my entire life a couple weeks ago, and surprisingly, I wasn’t as bad as I thought I would be at it! In fact, I’d say I was pretty good for a first-timer and I totally understand the appeal of gold now: leisurely making your way through the course, sipping on a cold alcoholic beverage, socializing outside on a nice warm day, the rush of adrenaline you feel after a good hit, etc. Because of that, more golf is definitely on my agenda for this summer - even if it’s just mini-golfing or the driving range at Golf Shack (next to Garrett’s Bar and Restaurant) in Rockford, IL or Vitense Golfland () in Madison, WI

Live Music at Wisconsin Brewing Company: Two things I like? Free live music and locally brewed beer. And I can have both of those things this summer at Wisconsin Brewing Company in Verona, WI. A few days out of the summer, they will be hosting a dueling pianos concert outside in their huge “backyard.” The picnic tables they have usually fill up quickly, so I’m planning on bring a blanket and/or some lawn chairs and enjoy music and their brews with some friends and family. Here’s a list of dates and times that Piano Fondue will be performing there this year: (insert Facebook event page here)

Let me know what fun things you have planned for this summer!

And as always,

Thanks for reading!

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