The terrace first opened in 1928, along with the rest of the Memorial Union, and quickly became a gathering area for students and faculty alike. It remains one of the most popular spot on campus during the summer, and for good reason. What, you may ask is so amazing about this place? Well let me tell you, just about everything!

Lets start with view. The terrace looks out on Lake Mendota, one of Madison’s two lakes, and has a great view across the lake and down the shores. The terrace is composed of several levels leading down to the water and many chair and tables, with the sunburst design (show above) for seating, as well as number of picnic tables leading down to the water. To me this is reason enough to set up shop here on a sunny day yet the terrace has so many more wonderful things to offer.

The terrace has great food options, including the cafeteria style Lake Front on Langdon, offering several different types of food, the German inspired Rathskeller, which serves basic local Wisconsin-fare, and the Daily Scoop, serving Babcock Hall (our own UW-brand) ice cream. Perhaps the best thing about the terrace though is that they serve BEER! The great Wisconsin fall back, Miller lite is always on tap, along with the Rathskeller beer, and hard cider. Be sure to get some popcorn with your pitcher of choice. Which reminds me, a wonderful way to remember your terrace experience is to forgo your $1 deposit and keep your plastic union pitcher.

Not hungry yet? No worries. There is plenty you can do to work up an appetite. To the left of the terrace the Hoofers club will rent out canoes to anyone with a union membership for a very reasonable rate. Paddling around the terrace and out to picnic point is a super fun and a great way to see campus from a different view. If boating isn’t your thing you can also walk past the hoofers office and down the path to picnic point which also has a great view of the union.

Don’t tire yourself out too much because the union is great after dark too. Be sure to be there for the sunset, always beautiful through the sunburst chairs. Many nights there is live music or some sort of free entertainment down by the lake. Best of all there is great people watching all times of day.

The terrace is my number one choice of a summer activity in Madison. You can’t go wrong with this classic!

Get the facts…

Hours: The terrace is outside so it is always open! For a fun even check out their calendar.

Price: Free to hang out, $8.50/hr for a canoe (check out the outdoor rentals for more info), and under $7 for a pitcher of good old miller lite.

Find the Union!


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