608today City Guide Work

Places to work outside in Madison

When the sun’s out, the world is your workspace.

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Vilas Park offers plenty of quiet space for you to relax, read, or work. | Photo by 608today

You’ve got a big presentation due… and a big pile of laundry taunting you.

We get it — working from home can be a mixed blessing. There are days when a change of scenery is a must if you’re going to get anything done. The good news? Research shows that tackling your tasks al fresco actually helps boost productivity.

Finding places to work outside in Madison was at the top of our to-do list, so can we just say? Check.

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Coffee shops

Caffeine reigns supreme if you have a latte work to finish. Put on your favorite playlist and get to it.

Ancora, multiple locations
6:30 a.m.-3 p.m. (Daily)
Covered: Partially, umbrellas
If black coffee is getting boring, sip on a Fruity Pebbles latte instead.

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Even if you don’t snag a lake-facing seat, you’ll still be able to enjoy aquatic views at Lakeside Street Coffee House. | Photo by 608today

Lakeside Street Coffee House, 402 W. Lakeside St.
8 a.m.-2 p.m. (Monday-Thursday), 8 a.m.-2 p.m. and 5-10 p.m. (Friday), 8 a.m.-1 p.m. (Saturday-Sunday)
Covered: Partially, umbrellas
You’ll be inspired by views of Bernie’s Beach and the large mural.

Barriques, multiple locations
Hours vary
Covered: No
The West Washington location offers views of the Capitol, while the University Avenue location boasts an indoor-outdoor vibe.

Indie Coffee, 1225 Regent St.
7 a.m.-6 p.m. (Daily)
Covered: Partially, umbrellas and tree shade
Escape from the hustle and bustle of Regent Street with its backyard patio that will make you feel like you’re sipping coffee in your neighbor’s cozy, fenced-in, backyard.

EVP, multiple locations
Hours vary
Covered: Depends on location
Between the three west side locations and one on East Washington Avenue, you’re bound to find a spot outside where you can enjoy freshly roasted coffee and a quiet place to work.

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With plenty of umbrella coverage, you won’t have a problem seeing your screen at Zuzu. | Photo by 608today

ZuZu Cafe, 1336 Drake St.
8 a.m.-5 p.m. (Tuesday-Wednesday), 8 a.m.-8 p.m. (Thursday), 8 a.m.-7 p.m. (Friday), 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m. (Saturday), 8:30 a.m.-5  p.m. (Sunday)
Covered: Partially, umbrellas
This whimsically colorful bar/cafe has plenty of outdoor seating, including tables and couches. The patio also has a sandbox, so your kids can play nearby while you work.

Restaurants and bars

At these fine establishments, the patio is the way to go — especially when the Madison weather is at its best. Order some food and drinks to fuel your focus.

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Butterbird’s new patio has full roof-coverage. | Photo by 608today

Butterbird, 1134 Regent St.
4-9 p.m. (Tuesday-Thursday), 11 a.m.-9 p.m. (Friday), 10 a.m.-9 p.m. (Saturday), 10 a.m.-8 p.m. (Sunday)
Wifi: Ask at the counter
Covered: Yes
New to the Madison patio scene, Butterbird’s outdoor seating area is fully covered and equipped with an outdoor bar, a large TV, and yard games for those who work better in a more lively environment.

Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream, 2322 Atwood Ave.
11 a.m.-10 p.m. (daily)
Wifi: Yes
Covered: Partially, umbrellas
From the front of the building, you may not realize that this Chocolate Shoppe location has a sprawling backyard area complete with large picnic tables, a fire pit, and a charming view of the surrounding neighborhood and Capital City Bike Trail.

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The Atwood Chocolate Shoppe is accessible via the Capitol City Bike Trail. | Photo by 608today

Garth’s Brew Bar, 1726 Monroe St.
5-9 p.m. (Tuesday-Thursday), 4-10 p.m. (Friday), 12-10 p.m. (Saturday), 12-7 p.m. (Sunday)
Wifi: Yes
Covered: No
The ambiance of this watering hole gives off an upscale cabin feel. With both beer and nitro cold brew on tap, you can enjoy the fuel of your choice while working from the Monroe Street-facing sidewalk tables.

Northstreet, 557 North St.
Hours vary
Wifi: Yes
Covered: Partially, tree shade
Three beloved Madison businesses have come together to create a third space for locals. Bloom Bake Shop, Young Blood Beer Co., and Cafe Domestique offer up bites and brews in a laid-back setting.

Robina Courtyard, 829 E. Washington Ave.
Hours vary
Wifi: Yes
Covered: No
Black Locust Cafe, Jardin, and Madison Tap all share custody of this large outdoor patio. When you’re finished working, stick around for Latin dance night.

Parks and public spaces

It’s hard to beat fresh air when you want to think clearly. Set up a picnic blanket or head to your favorite picnic table — just don’t forget to charge your devices and bring your own hotspot.

Olbrich Botanical Gardens, 3330 Atwood Ave.
10 a.m.-6 p.m. (Daily, April through Sept.), 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (Daily, Oct. through Mar.)
Covered: Partially, tree shade
There are plenty of benches tucked away in the outdoor gardens but if you’re itching for a taste of the outdoors during the winter, grab a seat in the Bolz Conservatory.

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The Bolz Conservatory may not technically be outdoors, but it feels like it. | Photo by 608today

State Capitol, 2 E. Main St.
Covered: No
The public is welcome to enjoy the Capitol grounds year-round, either on the lawn or at one of the large built-in seating areas along the walkways leading to each entrance.

You’ll find picnic tables (and lake views) at the following public parks:

  • James Madison, 614 E. Gorham St.
  • Olin Park, 1156 Olin-Turville Ct.
  • Vilas, 1602 Vilas Park Dr.
  • Warner Park, 2930 N. Sherman Ave.
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