Madison's Lakes: A Story in Pictures

Our city's beauty and vitality is a reflection of our water

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Hospitality maven Betty Von Rutenberg put it best: “We hope to put sunshine in your smile and spring in your heart.” And when her namesake Betty Lou cruise boats take to the lakes marking the beginning of another glorious outdoor season, you know just exactly what she meant. While plans to renovate and reinvigorate The Edgewater drag on, it hasn’t slowed the action at The Pier Bar & Café (bottom two photos, below). Live music inside and out is a longstanding hotel tradition. At right, house band The Gibralter Rockets perform reggae Thursday nights during the “Summer Sounds on the Lake” series.

Go Fish

There are a lot of us out there who simply cannot fathom this idea of a supposed good time: donning multiple layers of clothing and a pair of insulated boots, dragging a sled out on a frozen lake tundra, perhaps pitching a tent, drilling a hole in the ice, droping a fishing line down under, parking your bum on a bucket and waiting for what lies beneath to tug on a pole. But it happens here. A lot. And one of the most colorful urban spots to watch—and partake in—the height of the mid-winter angling scene is Monona Bay between John Nolen Drive and North Shore Drive.

Play Hard

Everyone knows the only way to survive a winter in Wisconsin is to embrace it. For many, a puck, a stick and a pair of skates are the quintessential way to experience and enjoy our frozen lakes during the long, cold stretch from December to late February—and sometimes longer. On any given day or night, there are as many pick-up games as there are organized clubs and leagues, and spectating is almost as much fun as participating. Almost.

Brennan Nardi is editor of Madison Magazine. She fell in love with the lakes on her first trip into the city via John Nolen Drive.

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