A Sober Weekend in Madison

Before reading, understand that a sober night out takes planning. It’s too easy to just go to the bar or starting mixing drinks at home if you’re bored, especially when it’s dark by 5:00pm and so cold. It doesn’t help that UW-Madison happens to be the biggest party school in the U.S. With a reputation to uphold, it’s convenient to crack open a cold one. 

But, you shouldn’t feel like an outsider for not consuming alcohol. I’m lucky that I’ve never been peer pressured into drinking. However, society and campus culture can pressure you indirectly to live up to the expectations of a "party-hard UW student." For whatever reason you’re sober — health, religion, recovery or maybe you just don’t want to feel like sh*t the next day — I hope this guide helps you make the most out of the Wisconsin winter. 

  1. 1. Going out — but not to the bars.

    West Towne, East Towne and Hilldale Shopping malls are all open until 9:00pm on Friday and Saturday nights. If you haven’t shopped ‘til you dropped, then spend the rest of the evening trying on your new looks, modeling them and snapping photos for later #ootd posts. 

    Dave and Busters is located within the West Towne Mall. They’re open until 1:00am on Friday and Saturday nights. A chocolate shake pairs really well with skee ball. 

    If you just have to be downtown, The Great Dane Pub’s pool hall is a great time if you like billiards. I find myself enjoying a Cock n Bull ginger beer while sinking balls into the pockets. Madisons’ has a great mocktail menu. Their aesthetic is high-end, making it a perfect location to dress up glamorously and clink an non-alcoholic drink.

    Movie theatres are another easy and entertaining way to spend a late night. With The Marquee Cinema on campus and the AMC 6 at Hilldale Mall, you’ll find a flick that suits your interests. Bring on the popcorn!

    Concerts, musicals, plays, oh my! Check out theses options: Majestic Madison, Orpheum, Union Theater, Overture Center, Sylvie, Bartell Theatre, Comedy Club or the Memorial Union. Check out their lineups to witness fantastic performances.

  2. 2. You don’t have to stay indoors.

    With winter comes a season of new hobbies and activities.

    Ice skating at Tenney Park Rink or the Edgewater Ice Rink is something to add to the bucket list.

    When it comes to sledding, the world is your hill. With a city full of parks and Bascom or Observatory at your doorstep, sledding is an easy activity. Make sure to wear hand warmers and pack a thermos of hot cocoa.

  3. 3. Or you can stay in.

    Plan on making a late night, fancy dessert at home for yourself or friends that Paul Hollywood would shake your hand for. 

    The classic girls' night in is always a good move. You can get extremely creative with different party games and snacks. Put on your girl power playlist and cue the chick flicks. 

    Make your Friday or Saturday night your dedicated evening of self-care. A true full body care routine can take hours! Start with a hair and face mask, a warm shower (take time for a close shave), some finger and toenail maintenance, full body hydration (put that unscented lotion everywhere), pluck or wax and then finish with your acne routine. Feel free to research more ideas in the name of self-care.

  4. 4. Productivity is priceless.

    The libraries are not very busy on Friday and Saturday nights, and neither are the coffee shops. Michaelangelo’s on State Street is open until 11:00pm on Fridays and Saturdays. Use the power of aesthetics to aid your exam preparation. Also snap a pic of your organized notes, pens and laptop. 

    Work work work work work work… have you thought about getting a part-time job?

    I find that grocery shopping is less stressful when you’re the only one there. Fresh Market, Capitol Market, WalMart (depending on location) and Woodmans are all open 24/7. Consider running other errands late at night if possible.

    Beer bellies will all envy your sculpted figure if you use prime bar time for a workout. If you purchase a gym membership to Planet Fitness or Anytime Fitness, you’ll get 24 hour access. If you don’t have the means for that now, don’t be discouraged because at-home workouts are just as effective. Put on your favorite sports bra and a pumpin’ playlist before your reps and crunches.

I hope that this inspires you to plan for a weekend of fun and sobriety!