608today City Guide Play

A guide to Madison’s extraordinary parks

We’re highlighting the top parks that Madison has to offer — complete with Ultimate Frisbee fields, historical spots, and dog-friendly areas.

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Walking through Hiestand, you’ll be able to spot many disc golf baskets. | Photo by Caddie Disc Golf

Table of Contents

Whether you’re looking for a place to play with your kiddos or to decompress with off-screen time, the 608 features nearly 250 parks for you to enjoy. Ready to plan your trip to the park? Grab your shades and Stanley Tumbler — here are some of Madison’s best:

Conservation Parks

Prairie Ridge, 2406 Berkley Dr.
This 48-acre park is home to steep prairies that are infamously difficult to navigate. It is referred to as a “goat prairie” due to the challenging terrain that only goats would be able to traverse.

Turville Point, 1202 Olin-Turville Ct.
Turville Point is located along the west shore of Lake Monona. The park’s landscape is dominated by large red, bur, and white oak trees, which create a lush canopy under which spring wildflowers bloom.

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Turville Point Conservation Park is a hotspot for wildflowers.

Photo by Kenton Fowler

Sandburg Woods, 2902 Independence Ln.
A 1991 windstorm blew down many large trees in this conservation park which created canopy openings.

Kettle Pond, 5805 Old Middleton Rd.
This park is an example of Madison’s landscape bearing evidence of the glacier’s withdrawal around 10,000 years ago, marked by the formation of several kettle holes. A pond enveloped by trees serves as a dwelling place for a diverse range of critters.

Elvehjem Sanctuary, 1314 Painted Post Dr.
Traverse short, steep trails amid the lush woods, skirting the Starkweather Creek watershed.

Dogs are prohibited at all Madison conservation parks.

Sports parks

Demetral, 601 N. Sixth St.
Situated near East High School, Demetral Park boasts a reservable shelter, a playground, and a fenced-off dog exercise zone — in addition to an Ultimate Frisbee field.

Hiestand, 4302 Milwaukee St.
Parkgoers can partake in disc golf during the spring and fall seasons, and reserve an athletic field or a picnic shelter, which is equipped with solar lights.

Garner, 333 S. Rosa Rd.
In 2016, Garner Park became home to Madison’s inaugural exclusive pickleball courts. Spanning 42 acres, the park features a scenic viewpoint and the award-winning Garner Park shelter.

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The award-winning Garner Park shelter is a coveted event space. | Photo by Guillaume Ratel

Pump Track at Aldo Leopold, 2906 Traceway Dr.
Let your momentum carry you as you traverse the curved asphalt at the Leopold Pump Track.

pum track

The pump track at Aldo Leopold is great for thrill-seekers. | Photo via Madison Parks

Organized groups may reserve these fields for their league play using the online reservation system.

Off-leash dog parks

Brittingham, 326 S. Broom St.
Nestled with a basketball and tennis court at the John Nolen entry to the isthmus, this small park offers synthetic turf and a doggy drinking fountain.

McCormick, 702 N. McCormick Ave.
This mini dog park in the Eken Park neighborhood is the perfect place to give your city-slicker pup a spot to get the zoomies out during your daily walks.

North Star, 439 Milky Wy.
Adjacent to the two-acre dog park is a 23-acre community park equipped with a basketball court and a playground.

Sycamore, 4517 Sycamore Ave.
This 20-acre dog park is kitty-corner (no pun intended) to an adventure biking course, for dog owners with a taste for adrenaline.

Warner, 2301 Sheridan Dr.
While this park is home to a beautiful lagoon, the water is not tested regularly. Be sure to check the water conditions before letting your pup take a dip.

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While you’re there, check out the colorful Warner Park Rec. Center. | Photo by Tom Sparrow

A dog permit is required to enter any dog-specific or dogs-allowed Madison parks.

Historical parks

Olin, 1156 Olin-Turville Ct.
Olin Park is home to the historic Monona Lake Assembly Hall. In 1884, this pavilion was built as an educational meeting place for Sunday school teachers and quickly became a hotspot for summer camps, live entertainment, and lectures given by the likes of 608 big-names like “Fighting Bob” La Follette.

Bernard-Hoover Boathouse at James Madison, 622-1/2 E. Gorham St.
This boathouse is a relic of Charles Bernard’s boat rental business, founded in 1855. Charles eventually expanded his business to include fishing gear rentals and steam-powered excursion boats. Built in 1915, it’s now one of the only physical reminders of the early days of pleasure boating in Madison.

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James Madison is a hot spot for sunset lovers. | Photo by wildrway

Gates of Heaven at James Madison, 300 E. Gorham St.
Designed by August Kutzbock, Gates of Heaven is a Germanic-style building built in 1863 for Madison’s first Jewish congregation. It later served various congregations before being moved to James Madison to be saved from demolition in 1971.

Native American mounds, various locations
Madisonians have the privilege to experience some of Wisconsin’s rich Native American history right here in town. Bear Mound, Burrows, and Hudson are a few local parks that feature preserved Native American mounds. These historic landmarks date back to roughly 700-1200 AD.

Yahara River Parkway, 501 S. Thornton Ave.
Built in 1903 by the Madison Parks and Pleasure Drive Association, this was the first park in Madison to be funded by donations from its citizens, instead of a few large donations. It’s a Madison landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Ready to visit these local parks but don’t know where to start? We’ve created this handy map so you can find all of these featured parks.

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