Wisconsin winters are famously cold and snowy, so Madison residents take fall seriously, savoring every last hour they can spend outside without being encased by down. Luckily, the fall colors in and around Madison don’t disappoint. To help you enjoy it, we’ve put together a few places that are perfect for #fallfoliage IG pics. You’re about to be in your Madison apartment for a few cold, dreary months — so get out there and enjoy some fresh air while you can.
- Picnic Point
UW students by the hundreds take the short 1 hike from the fields near the UW Hospital out to the tip of this wooded peninsula, a nature preserve with some of the best views of Madison. With benches, rentable fire pits, and miles of trails, Picnic Point is a popular spot for hikes, dates, or outdoor parties with friends. The dense foliage provides a wealth of yellow, red, and orange for aspiring photographers — as well as that most satisfying of sounds: the crunch of fallen leaves under your feet.
- Capitol Square
It’s not the most densely forested plot of land in Madison, but the maples planted on the capitol grounds explode with color around the time of the first frost. Plus, they do an excellent job of framing the 187-foot-high rotunda, which is the tallest structure in Madison.
- Rutledge Street
Rutledge isn’t really a tourist destination: It’s just a residential street on the east side, a few blocks off Willy Street. But it’s long been known as one of the most picturesque lanes in the city, home to some of the most beautiful and lovingly restored houses in the city. Ash and maple trees line the wide boulevard, creating a canopy over the street that in summer provides shade and in autumn a dense ceiling of fluttering, colorful leaves. Walk until you hit the Yahara River — then keep going, to the gorgeous lakefront Yahara Place Park, which has some of the city’s tallest cottonwoods.
- The Arboretum
This one’s kind of a no-brainer. The Arboretum is one of the most beautiful outdoor spaces in Madison. It features three distinct gardens: the Viburnum Garden, the Wisconsin Native Plant Garden, and the Longenecker Horticultural Gardens, which features over 6,000 trees, shrubs, and native woody plants. If you can’t find some fall foliage here, then it doesn’t exist.