10 Booze-Free Ways to Spend Your Friday Night at UW-Madison

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You don’t have to be from Wisconsin to know UW Madison is a notorious party school. On any given weekend you can wander the neighborhoods around Mifflin or Regent and come across a number of house parties. For some students, this is a wonderful thing. They want to go out, get drunk and enjoy a good ol’ fashion, inebriated college experience. But what if you don’t love to party?

If you’re not one for Jell-O shots and blasting music, finding an alternative to partying may seem daunting. The truth is that it’s far from impossible. Check out 10 suggestions for a booze-free Friday night.

1. Have a Marquee Movie Night

Who doesn’t love going to the cinema? So when I tell you there’s a theater on campus that shows free — yes, free — movies on the weekends, you should be ready to jump out of your chair and head to The Marquee at Union South. Thanks to The Wisconsin Union Directorate Film committee, The Marquee gets to show a bunch of awesome films every weekend, from timeless classics to recent hits. Oh, and bringing food in is completely allowed, if not encouraged. You won’t find a better deal.

2. Take a Ride on Lakeshore Path

One of my favorite things about UW Madison is that the campus has access to both city and rural-esque areas. Lakeshore Path is a perfect example of the latter. The calming sound of water rides along with you as you pedal through stunning nature. Between the sounds of the Mendota and the tall maple trees, you’ll forget you’re on a college campus. Grab your friends, your bike light (it gets pretty dark after sunset) and head out to enjoy some of Madison’s unfiltered beauties.

3. Have a Cookout on Picnic Point

Consider packing some food and matches for that Lakeshore bike ride because the path leads you all the way to Picnic Point, one of the most scenic areas on campus. With a number of fire pits, this little peninsula is a great place to cook up some hotdogs and s’mores with the gang. Picnic Point has one of the best vantage points of the isthmus and capitol building, and seeing the city lights reflected on Lake Mendota is a picturesque sight worth seeing.

4. Swing Dance Your Heart Out

Madison Swing is a fast-growing, fast-action club on campus. It holds a variety of events including social dances (with lessons) and trick workshops for more advanced dancers, all of which are updated on the Facebook page. It’s a great way to loosen up and have some fun with friends on a Friday evening.

5. Treat Yo Tastebuds

It’s no secret that State Street is a great place for partiers with its variety of bars. However, it has plenty to offer to sober students as well. With an amazing number of restaurants specializing in various world cuisines, State Street is one of the best places near campus to try out some new food. If you’d rather avoid the partiers altogether, there are plenty of other restaurants around campus to please your palate as well.

6. Catch a Concert

No matter your musical taste, there’s bound to be a concert for you on any given Friday night. There’s live music on The Terrace, performances in the Overture Center for the Arts and gigs at the Orpheum. The best part is many of the shows around campus are college-wallet friendly, either being free or having a student discount for tickets available.

7. Amble Amongst Art

If you’re looking for a calmer evening, visiting an art exhibit or museum can be a fantastic experience. Madison has a wide range of art exhibits including both classic creations and modern masterpieces. From the Chazen to the Overture Galleries, there are a ton of places around campus to get your art fix.

8. Get a Turkey with Your Burger

The Sett is known for its delicious burgers, brats and beer. Lesser known, but equally as stellar, are the Sett’s bowling lanes. Whether you’re a practiced professional or a bumper basher, knocking some pins with your friends can be oh so satisfying. Not one for bowling? The Sett also has a rock climbing wall and billiards.

9. Crack Up at the Comedy Club

If laughter actually is the best medicine, the Comedy Club on State is a fantastic place to get your daily dose. The Comedy Central certified club features a bunch of comedians ranging from newbies to seasoned pros, so head on down to grab some giggles. Just mind the two-drink minimum. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be alcohol.

10. Don’t Be Scared of Studying

While you don’t want to spend every Friday doing schoolwork, spending one studying never hurt anyone. With a wide range of libraries to choose from, Madison’s got enough study rooms to go around. So whether your friends are busy, your prior plans fell through or you’ve got a test coming up, don’t be afraid to head on over to College or Memorial and drink up some knowledge on a Friday night.

Michael is a senior studying Creative Writing and Film/Television at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Aside from a passion for writing, film, and television, Michael enjoys his hobbies of cooking and ultimate Frisbee. In the future he hopes to combine his passions for writing and mass media to write reviews and maybe even a screenplay or two.

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