The 45 Things You Absolutely Need To Do At University Of Wisconsin Before You Graduate
College is, without a doubt, the most carefree and ridiculously fun four years of your life. As a sad graduate, let me tell you: take advantage of every opportunity your campus has to offer.
There’s nothing like that feeling when bitter reality starts to sink in and you realize that it’s almost over. The best four years of your life are coming to an end. The panic sets in. O.M.G I still haven’t been to Picnic Point?!?!! Not to worry.
This bucket list was created to ensure you graduate from University of Wisconsin-Madison with no regrets. You’re only in college once, so take my advice and YOICO fellow Badgers.
1. Order a pitcher of Spotted Cow at the Memorial Union Terrace (preferably several)
When people think of University of Wisconsin, a few things come to mind: beer, cheese and the Memorial Union Terrace. There’s nothing like enjoying a crisp Spotted Cow amidst those brightly colored starburst chairs. Kick back and revel in this campus icon where people gather to enjoy food, music, sunsets, sailing and a quintessential Madison day.
2. Steal a chair from the Memorial Union Terrace
It’s a given that you are going to spend countless days at the Memorial Union Terrace throughout your time at UW. Some of your fondest memories will be made there, so why not steal one of those legendary chairs to commemorate those perfect college days? This image will conjure the most nostalgia among alumni, so it’s quite the trophy if you can pull it off.
3. Walk on frozen Lake Mendota and smoke a fat blunt
I’m from Florida, so when I tell people that I willingly chose to go to Wisconsin, they think I am bat.sh*t.crazy. Little do they know that when Wisconsin hits sub-zero weather, students find a way to indulge in its revelry. That’s right, we don’t mind the winter! It gives us an excuse to bundle up in extra layers of that liquid blanket and smoke fatties on frozen Lake Mendota! So from January-March, walk to the center of the lake and post up, then send all your friends at University of Miami a picture. Sucks to suck.
4. Take a “study break” in the Memorial Library stacks (or basement, or Historical Society or Law Library.)
You get the idea. While Wisconsin is known as one of the top party schools in the nation, we are also acknowledged for our challenging academics. You will spend hours upon hours in the library: pulling all-nighters, skipping meals and sharing all of those awesome germs with that grungy guy sneezing in the corner. You need to take care of yourself! So take a study break and do it in the library. Fun fact: this activity improves your health while sharpening concentration, so it’s a win-win for everybody!
5. Ride the Ferris Wheel at Ella’s Deli
Ella’s Deli offers a whimsical atmosphere filled with antiques and fun. During the warmer months, the nostalgic funhouse opens its Ferris Wheel to the public, which draws large crowds. It’s a great photo-op for people of all ages, but don’t expect quality deli food. Get an ice cream cone, upload an Instagram and call it a day.
6. Wait in the regular line at Jin’s Chicken
Rated one of the top 50 best late night college spots by Complex Magazine, Jin’s Chicken is THE place to go for your drunken munchies. It’s quite simple: anything fried on a bun with lettuce, mayo and Frank’s hot sauce after 2am = gustatory euphoria. Typically there is at least a half hour wait in sub-zero weather, but don’t be that assh*le who pays to cut the line. Trust me, good things come to those who wait.
7. Cut the Segredo’s line with a fake stamp
So it’s one thing to wait in line for food, but to wait in line for a club? Not to mention a club in Madison, Wisconsin? Don’t be ridiculous. Use that genius little brain of yours that got you into this prestigious university and figure out a way to cheat the system. Or better yet, skip it all together and get in line at Jin’s.
8. Go to the Tornado Room for late night burgers and bloodys
Leave KK early one night and change it up. Head to one of the capitol’s steakhouses and ball out with a Bacon Bleu Cheese Burger with a side of oversized onion rings. Their late night menu is available every night from 10 p.m.-1 a.m. Don’t think, just go.
9. Jump in Lake Mendota after the bars close.
Preferably skinny dip. If stripping down on campus isn’t enough of a thrill, visit Mazomanie’s nude beach.
10. Actually make it to a football game for kickoff once in your whole college career
Then laugh at yourself when you realize you were incapable of doing this ever.
11. Jump Around (for the whole 3 minutes)
Have you ever tried this?? It’s a f*cking WORK OUT. If you Jump Around for the whole 3 minutes and 36 seconds, then you’ve fulfilled your exercise requirement for the entire semester.
12. Get to know the characters of State Street
The heart of campus is State Street: a cornucopia of restaurants, shops, bars and local celebrities. In your time spent wandering these streets, get to know the characters who occupy them.
Scanner Dan- While unconventionally friendly, Dan may rub the unacquainted the wrong way with his poor hygiene and often nonsensical gibberish. His nickname derives from his signature accessory -- an old police scanner that he talks into (although no one is quite sure who is on the other end). He’s also convinced that every UW-Madison girl is in a sorority.
Piccolo Pete- a fixture of the University Book Store, Piccolo Pete is known for playing the piccolo year round in a blazing orange jumpsuit. The guy has been a staple of UW-Madison campus for years, seeing it evolve into what it is today. Next time you think about passing him by, give him five minutes of your time and get to know his story (his name isn’t actually Pete).
Does Anyone Have 25 Cents- this glorified bum is known for compulsively asking passerbys for 25 cents.
Newspaper Complimenter- Posted outside Walgreens, this man who hands out the Madison Street Pulse Newspaper is known for his jolly persona and complimenting reputation. Just slipped on an ice patch and ate sh*t? He’ll be the guy to tell you it was done with grace and that you have beautiful eyes.
13. Ride the bull at Whiskey Jacks Saloon
Whiskey Jacks is the only place in town with a mechanical bull, so this is an obvious Bucket List staple. Ride “Max” the Mechanical Bull every Wednesday night and enjoy a cheap drink or two. But make this one a quickie, or else you will find yourself riding “Max” the creepy local from Oshkosh. Keep your attendance to this bar a minimum.
15. Go to Mifflin Street Block Party
What’s on the menu for Mifflin? Beer for breakfast, keg stands for lunch and a hazy memory of it all for dinner. Join thousands of attendees in utter debauchery, take a picture with a cop pretending (hopefully) to arrest you and design a totally awesome shirt to commemorate the event because you sure as hell won’t remember it.
16. Roam State Street on Halloween
Also known as Freakfest, State Street on Halloween is a gathering place for tens of thousands of partygoers to flaunt their outrageously creative costumes. Think New York Fashion Week, but replace the runway with State Street and lifeless models for sh*tfaced college students. **BONUS** For only $8, everyone gets front row seats.
17. Go to the Farmers’ Market
Each Saturday morning from June-October, head to the Capitol Square to get the best deals on fresh produce, wildflower bouquets, magic coffee and the irresistible cheese bread.
18. Sneak into Camp Randall and “star-gaze” from the 50 yard line
You’ve seen the Badgers score many touchdowns on this field, and before you graduate you too could. go. all. the. way.
19. Skip class for FAC
I know the title alludes to Friday After Class, but I personally think Friday Instead of Class would be much more fitting. In the spirit of priorities, pregame for an exam. Beer sharpens your senses. I pulled off an A by doing this, and trust me, you’re life will never get as exhilarating as this after you graduate.
20. Run, walk or bike to Picnic Point
Picnic Point, a nearly mile long peninsula along Lake Mendota’s south shore, is part of Madison’s enchantment. Walk from the Memorial Union and treat yourself with a barbeque/and or picnic once you get there.
21. Drink a fishbowl at Wando’s
Whether it’s for your 21st birthday or a casual night out, downing a fishbowl at least once is an absolute must at UW. Fishbowls are a Jackson Pollack concoction of liquor: vodka, rum, gin, peach schnapps and triple sec. Depending on your choice of color, varying amounts of slow gin, blue curacao or orange juice are also added. Throw in a handful of straws, and chug, chug, chug! Regret everything the next morning.
22. Sled down Bascom Hill
Use lunch trays for an extra authentic experience.
23. Attend a hockey and basketball game at the Kohl Center
Badger fans consist of much more than students jumping around in Camp Randall Stadium. We’re also well known for our hockey and basketball teams, so join the student section at hockey games in the “Sieve!” chant, and if you’re lucky enough, rush the court after a big basketball win.
24. Spend a day at the Henry Vilas Zoo
Go here if you’re bored.
25. Sit on Abe’s lap
The bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln sits atop Bascom Hill and watches over UW-Madison students as they find their way around campus, pick their majors and relax on the lawn during a glorious spring day. It’s no wonder graduates are drawn to Abe for their quintessential graduation photo.
He’s seen you through it all, so muster the strength and climb into the lap of this UW icon (while completely embarrassing yourself in the process) and thank him for being a constant figure in your college life. Legend has it that students whisper their hopes and dreams into his ear and ensure them with a kiss on his cheek for luck.
26. Stay up all night and watch the sun rise on Lake Mendota
It should go without saying that every Badger needs to witness at least one brilliant sunset over Lake Mendota. Double your worth by pulling an all-nighter and consequently watching the sunrise the very next day. You will fall in love with the bewitchingly beautiful sight, which makes for a truly surreal experience.
27. Get a breath of fresh air at Allen Centennial Gardens
I stumbled upon this one day I was wandering campus and suggest you all make it a point to go here. Allen Centennial Gardens offers visitors a peaceful respite, a beautiful and visually stimulating place to relax amid a multitude of botanical delights. The gardens are open to the public 365 days a year from dawn to dusk with no admission fee.
28. Devour a hangover breakfast at Mickies Dairy Bar
Deemed the “Traditional Badger Breakfast,” Mickies Dairy Bar is a 1950s style diner located just across the street from Camp Randall Stadium. This is a perfect place to go post-hangover to soak up all the greasy goodness their menu has to offer. A fan favorite is The Scrambler: a huge mound of pan-fried potatoes topped with eggs, cheese, gravy and your choice of ham, sausage or bacon.
Mickies has also been featured on “Todd’s Taste of the Town” during one of ESPN’s college football broadcasts. So come here hungover, hungry and with cash in hand because as a retro diner, they do not accept credit cards.
29. Rent a Hoofer’s Canoe on Lake Mendota
As the ice melts and the sun brings a warmer season, people flock to the Memorial Union Terrace. Change it up from the usual Spotted Cow and rent a Hoofer’s Canoe. But beware: tipping is not just for cows… these things have a mind of their own.
30. Play a game of kegball in Vilas Park
Kegball is a game founded at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, similar to kickball except for the following: (1) a beer must remain in all participants hands at all times (2) a keg is placed at second base, and when a player reaches the keg, they must chug their remaining beer and refill it before another player reaches second base (3) If the player does not chug/refill their beer in time, they must perform a keg stand as a “punishment.” Needless to say, this is not for the faint of heart.
31. Eat at every restaurant on State Street
State Street is the medulla oblongata to UW-Madison’s campus. This seven block bustling strip, which runs between Capitol Square and the university, buzzes with activity day and night, offering a diverse array of coffeehouses, ethnic restaurants, bookstores, museums and specialty shops. Need a good date spot? Try Icon. Want to try East African Cuisine? Venture downstairs to Buraka.
What about authentic Sconnie eats? Check out Old Fashioned by the capital. While I know Chipotle is a fiesta for your mouth, do yourself a favor and eat outside the box. You’ll thank me later.
32. Explore the Capitol and its surrounding area
Emerged between the picturesque waters of Lake Monona and Lake Mendota, the majestic granite structure of Wisconsin's Capitol building accents the Madison skyline. The best way to experience the beauty and grandeur of the Capitol is to see it for yourself. Tours are given daily, but you are also free to roam the building solo. After you leave check out the Monona Terrace, a building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright that offers breathtaking views and a sort of recess from the stresses of college life.
33. Sing your heart out at Karaoke Kid
Karaoke is a guaranteed good time, so go here with a group of friends and shamelessly belt your favorite songs. Insiders tip: rent out the private room and make sure you sing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin.’” By the time you leave here, you’ll be drenched in sweat and smiling so hard your face will hurt.
34. Get brunch at Lazy Jane’s
This quaint, two-story brunch spot is located on Willy Street and instantly wins hungry hearts. The restaurant evokes a cozy feeling of a grandmother’s house gone hipster, showcasing old school board games, antique trinkets and state themed placemats. Order from their eclectic menu items, such as walnut pecan scones, seitan hash and peanut butter hot cocoa.
As you chat over a game of Scrabble, you will hear the chef boisterously shout your name to signal that your food is ready. Not only is their food absolutely delicious, but the camaraderie truly makes you feel like you are home.
35. Catch a Madison Fire Tribe performance
The Madison Fire Tribe is a rogue group of artistic expressionists who perform throughout the Madison area. Their group consists of drummers, pyromaniacs who spin, turn and juggle flames, and hoola-hoopers who dance to the blazing rhythm. The group randomly performs at Library Mall, so if you’re lucky to stumble upon them take a moment to watch, you will not be disappointed.
36. Explore the Overture Center
The Overture Center is an architectural landmark in the heart of State Street with cascading glass windows and a spiraling staircase. It houses art exhibitions, off-Broadway shows, musical performances and educational events. Expand your cultural horizons and check this place out.
37. Take advantage of Madison’s arts culture
Madison is known as an artistic hub, so take advantage of its eclectic music/arts scene. Attend the Wisconsin Film Festival, see a show at Orpheum, catch an exhibit at the Overture Center. Madison is much more than beer, cheese and football, so don’t sell yourself short.
38. Tube on Sugar River
Unbeknownst to many, lies a hidden gem in Albany, WI called the Sugar River. There you can rent tubes, canoes, and kayaks. I recommend you rent a bunch of tubes with your friends, tie them all together, allocate one tube for the cooler and spend a day relaxing on the river.
39. Drink from the boot at Essen-Haus
Essen Haus is Madison’s authentic German banquet hall. They feature 16 German beers on tap, 200 import bottles, live oompah music and fun events throughout the year. Make your way here to drink one of their specialty beers from the famous ‘Das Boot.’ This will be an experience not soon forgotten.
40. Eat a Mac n’ cheese slice at Ian’s
Voted Best Pizza in Wisconsin by Food Network Magazine, Ian’s Pizza is the original home of Mac n’ cheese pizza. Also seen on Andrew Zimmern’s Bizzare Foods, CNN, NY Times and the Travel Channel; it’s fair to say this is a must visit. In addition to its 11 signature slices, every month Ian’s features 4 additional unique pies, enough to keep your palate tantalized year-round. Try as many as possible.
41. Check out the Ivory Room Piano Bar
Located off Capitol Square, it’s hard not to be drawn inside as onlookers can see and hear the entertainment as they pass by the window. With a tone and mood that ranges from subdued to lively, the Ivory Room is a great place to end any night on a good note.
42. Partake in recreational activities at Union South
The new Union South, which opened in the spring of 2011, is nestled between the Computer Sciences Building and Engineering Hall on the south side of campus. The new extension of the Memorial Union boasts a variety of recreational activities. See a film in the 330-seat Marquee movie theater, suit up and climb the two-story rock wall, or bowl a turkey at the Sett. Top it all off with a Spotted Cow at Der Rathskeller.
43. Get ice cream from Babcock Hall
They don’t call us the Cheese State for nothing. University of Wisconsin-Madison has a reputable Food Science Program, known especially for their work in the dairy field. Visit Babcock Hall for its homemade ice cream, but don’t forget to also try their award winning cheeses and locally produced bottles of milk.
44. Try as many food carts in Library Mall as you can
Food carts line the space between Memorial Library and the University Bookstore every day for lunch. Treat yourself to a diverse variety of ethnic foods, ranging from Ethiopian, Chinese, Greek, Mediterranean, Mexican, Vegan, Thai/Laotian, Peruvian…you name it, they probably have it. Lunch becomes an outdoor setting for people watching and relaxing. Some fan favorites include Banzo, Hibachi Hut, Surco Peruvian and Good Food.
45. Visit as many other schools as you possibly can and reaffirm every time that you attend the best one.
*This article has been edited to exclude potentially explicit content; the views and opinions expressed within this article are solely those of the contributor. These views and opinions are not representative of Elite Daily.