When I moved here from Kentucky, I had no idea what to expect for winter. I was used to a small snowfall that would melt before the next one came (if another ever did). My first winter in Madison, there was a record snowfall of more than 100 inches. With the right attitude and things to do, Madison can be a great place to be in the winter.
Here are a few tips for getting through the winter—and enjoying it:
- Go outside. When it’s cold and the snow is piling up, this may seem counterintuitive. But fresh air, natural light, and exercise are key to surviving winter in Wisconsin. Madison offers tons of outdoor activities in winter, including ice skating, sledding, and my personal favorite, cross country skiing. Elver Park has ski rentals, sledding, ice skating, and lights for night skiing. REI has ski and snowshoe rentals. The Madison Nordic Ski Club offers tons of resources for skiers, including reports on conditions for all the cross country trails in the area and free lessons from time to time. The Wisconsin DNR also offers candlelight hike and ski outings on Saturday nights.
- Invest in good gear. You don’t have to spend a fortune, but a few pieces will really make a difference. Avoid cotton and pick things that are waterproof, will dry quickly, or both. Get some good gloves, a warm coat, and boots with tread on the bottom. If you have a dog, check out Yak Trax or something similar to get around safely on slick sidewalks.
- On those negative wind chill days, find a sunny window to sit by and keep your supply of Vitamin D up. It’s a great way to fend off the winter blues and boost your immune system. One of my favorite spots is Ground Zero Coffee on Willy Street.
- Last but not least, keep in touch. The cold weather and early sunsets make it tempting to stay home and load up on comfort foods. Share the cocoa and casserole with friends and winter will be far more bearable.