Pool days meet pandemic: Staying cool and safe this summer

8 activities to beat the heat in Madison during a global health crisis
A person attempts log rolling on a lake.
Photo by Nathanial Schmidt
Locals can try their hand (feet?) at this lumberjack tradition at Madison Log Rolling.

With the recent reopening of the Goodman Pool, that itch-you-can’t-scratch feeling that physical distancing rules are interfering with our already-sparse Madisonian summer may intensify. And while Goodman visitors will be required to wear masks in lines and there will be limited capacity monitoring to reduce exposure, folks who don’t feel comfortable splishin’ and splashin’ publicly need not have fear: There is a plethora of at-home or physically distanced to keep you and the kiddos cool.

Hyper-local DIY Popsicles: The winding lines of Capitol Square patrons that typically arrive in Saturday morning droves have ceased with the adaptation of the Dane County Farmers’ Market, but access to hyperlocal produce isn’t extinguished entirely. Either through a partnership with the vendor app WhatsGood or direct orders from farmers themselves, folks can scoop up veggies or homemade breads and jams in a mostly online format. Grab some strawberries, honey, rhubarb or other fruity goods, drop them in the blender, fill your cup or tray, add a stick and freeze. (P.S. Creations featuring goat milk, chili pepper, or other bold ingredients get creativity points.) If you’re looking for a boozy treat, here’s a step-by-step guide for making edible flower ice cubes to drop in your cocktail.

Paddling in a Pandemic: It’s no question as to whether the shimmer and sparkle of our lakes are alluring, but rather: “How should I enjoy them today?” Madison Boats — with Wingra, Brittingham and Marshall locations — have upended usual rental processes with public health in mind, and are hooking people up with kayaks, canoes and other watercraft. Stand up paddle boards, row boats, watermats and more are sanitized and held for 72 hours between each use, so you can worry less about contamination and a bit more about dunking yourself in the water instead.

Log Rolling: Whether you would like to admit it or not, virtually everyone has imagined themselves making a (hopefully noble) attempt at this great lumberjack tradition. Luckily, Madison Log Rolling can make this a reality. Private lessons — with a masked and screened coach — and open rolling for individuals or groups under the same roof can be scheduled online, allowing those of all ages to improve their agility and have some fun along the way.

Sweet Treat Spots: Following closure and relocation fears due to U.S. visa obtainment and rental fiascos (respectively), both Michael’s Frozen Custard and The Atwood Scoopformerly the Madison Chocolate Shoppe — are back to dishing out frozen indulgence each day. Michael’s slings out loaded turtle sundaes that are definitely worth the calories and Atwood’s experimental monthly flavors like the coconut-almond delight that is “Tropical Storm” will keep you coming back for more.

Indoor Artistry: Staying inside the house still counts as staying cool… right? With the generosity of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art and Madison School & Community Recreation, your little tikes will also stay occupied when getting their creativity flowing with ArtCart projects. Local parks have different pick up locations and dates where parents or guardians can snag a kit for their youngster, and step-by-step Youtube videos cover the rest!

Squirt Gun Tie Dye: Warning: Seriously sticky content ahead. This may not be the cleanest activity, but what part of filling squirt guns with KoolAid and tie dying your loved one’s shirt while they are still wearing it doesn’t sound fun? (“Hamilton”-style duels encouraged.)

Sprinkler Sports: You can be shockingly inventive with pool noodles, sponges and tarps (thanks, Pinterest). Ingenious child-raisers across the world can — and continue to — innovate in “Summer of the Year”-level ways. Kiddie car washes, sponge-ball wars and DIY splash pads are only the tip of the iceberg.

Cave of the Mounds: What better way to cool off than to literally go underground? Discovered in 1939, the Cave of the Mounds offers daily self-guided tours just 30 minutes from Madison. Crystal formations of every hue line the geologic marvel’s walls, and masks will line the faces of each and every spelunker admitted. You can even enjoy the park and surrounding trails for biking/hiking while you wait for your household’s specific tour time.