6 Ways to Chase Away the Winter Doldrums

By Shelby Deering | Photo by Kevin Sink Photography

Well, we’ve made it to midwinter. Those of us who not-so-secretly wish that it was summer may be dealing with a hefty dose of the winter blues, or its depression doppelganger, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It seems like you’re freezing all the time, and you’re definitely over all those cloudy days.

Enter: activities around Madison that will make you feel more like your summer self. While the weather outside is still decidedly frightful, head indoors for some warmth, a tropical drink and, perhaps, a sunnier outlook.


While Olbrich Botanical Gardens has beautiful outdoor grounds while in bloom, throughout winter, the Bolz Conservatory offers a respite that’s as summer-like as you can get. The glass- domed building is always a pleasant 65 to 80 degrees and boasts towering palms, tropical flowers, a cascading waterfall and plenty of spots to perch and hang out. Take a leisurely stroll to make the most of it.



At Bergamot Massage on the West Side, there’s a little slice of summer that’s equal parts warming and restorative. Their Finnish Sauna can be reserved for private sessions, where you’ll sweat, warm up and cool off in a rain shower. You can even bring along up to five of your pals for an additional fee per person. And you can add a body scrub to your session for even more self-care — dry winter skin, begone!



Swathed in bright hues and colorful signage and lights, you can’t help but smile as soon as you walk into Tex Tubbs Taco Palace. Stop in for some south-of-the-border eats, like the stuffed burrito or sweet potato and black bean enchiladas — but it’s the tropical drinks that may immediately transport you (at least mentally) to a poolside locale. Their selection of margaritas are made fresh (spicy cucumber melon, anyone?) with frozen options available in eight flavors.



While a tropical frozen drink might be right up one person’s alley, you may tend to stick to hot drinks this time of year. To thaw yourself out from head to toe, order the ghost pepper latte at Madison Chocolate Company. With notes of ghost pepper caramel and two espresso shots, you’ll feel warmed and wide-eyed instantaneously. Or, savor a cup of their hot chocolate if spicy isn’t your thing — after all, “chocolate” is in the café’s name.



Head to Garver Feed Mill to bask in glorious green goodness through Grow Greenhouse. Plants of all varieties, from cacti to palms, dot the spaces throughout the Mill. See a plant you love while strolling through? Simply scan the QR code, pay online and take it home with you. You can also participate in classes where you can create a potted plant of your own.



If you miss the feeling of the warm sun on your face, book a salt room session at Revive Salt Room & Sauna in Cambridge. Put on some comfy clothes, lay back in a lounge chair and enjoy the halotherapy, which is basically breathing in salty air. It’s said that as the salt particles enter your respiratory system, you’ll pick up benefits like increased energy and improved mood. The entire wall of salt blocks is illuminated, which feels a bit like you’re sitting in the sun on a summer day.


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