17 Reasons to Move to Madison, Wisconsin (Voted by the locals!)

Are you considering moving to Madison, Wisconsin? If so, then you have come to the right place! Keep reading to find out all the reasons you should be moving to Madison!

1. Great Outdoor Recreation Opportunities

Since Madison gets a full four seasons of unique weather every year, there is a multitude of different outdoor activities to try here all year long. In the spring and summer, kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming, and other types of waterfront and beachfront activities are abundant. In the fall, hiking, fishing, and hunting are an option all around the area. In the winter, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice skating, and many more cold-weather activities are very popular here. The only limit here is what somebody is interested in doing.

2. Madison is a Very Green City

Madison is so green, that in 2014, it was named the greenest city in the nation. This is due to several reasons, including a multitude of public parks, a lot of environmentally-minded residents that commute to work and school by walking, biking, carpooling, or using public transport, and due to a really good pollution score. Those looking to live an active life or raise a family will love Madison’s clean air, water, and abundance of outdoor spaces.

3. Excellent Schools

Madison has some of the best schools in the stateOpens in a new tab.. In terms of elementary, middle, and high schools, Madison has a really great school district all around, and there are lots of options for schools in the area. The ratings are really pretty consistent across the board, which is pretty impressive considering that Madison’s Metropolitan School District is the second largest in Wisconsin at over 26,000 students.

4. Incredible Food

The food scene in Madison is really something incredible, and there’s a lot more variety than you might initially expect from a Midwestern college town. I have a particular fondness for some of the great ramen shops in the area, but really there are great restaurants that represent the best food in many different cuisines.

Here, you can find great Indonesian, Indian, classic American, pizza, and other types of cuisine, with an almost overwhelming multitude of different choices. There are many, many restaurants here all around the downtown area. Some of the many amazing options here include:

  • The Old Fashioned is a very “Wisconsiny” retro tavern that serves all the local favorites; beer, brats, and cheese curds. These are all in abundance in Wisconsin of course, but the Old Fashioned does them really well.
  • Marie’s Soul Food serves Southern comfort food, a rarity up as far north as Madison.
  • Ramen Station; is a very trendy restaurant with all the delicious Japanese cuisine one could want.

5. Wonderful Downtown Area

The downtown area in Madison is really an exciting place to visit or live in. It is set on an isthmus between two beautiful lakes, and it really is pretty clean and safeOpens in a new tab. compared to a lot of big city downtown areas. There are a ton of shops, restaurants, museums, and more here, so a visit to the downtown area can take up a whole day or just a short trip. Either way, it is always fun to be able to take visiting family or friends somewhere fun, and downtown Madison can provide it.

6. The Awe-Inspiring State Capital Building

Madison is best known as the capital of Wisconsin, and while that sounds nice on its own, the gleaming dome of the capital building really makes it look nice as well. The capital building is the tallest building in Madison, and its location on a big hill in the city makes it visible from anywhere in it. Not only this but there is legislation that prevents any building from being built that is taller than it, which preserves its presence in the Madison skyline forever.

The inside of the capital building is adorned with sculptures, murals, and more. If you like, they will give tours of the building when it is not in use. Having been on one myself, I can say that it really is quite an impressive building with a ton of symbolism and unique artwork. If you are interested in looking to live close to where it is all happening, then Madison is the place to be as Wisconsin’s capital.

7. The Lively Music Scene

This city sports dozens of venues all around the city, and there are almost always dozen-plus bands playing on any given weekend night. There really is a great music scene all around, with a lot of local bands with a dizzying variety of styles cropping up. The music scene has really grown in recent yearsOpens in a new tab., and if things continue improving, Madison will likely see bigger names showing up to play there as well. In addition, concert tickets here are said to be relatively cheap.

8. The Art/Museums/Zoo

Madison has a really great zoo with a ton of animals at Henry Vilas park, which is really nice to take your family to if you have children. There are also several museums, both art, and children’s museums as well that make for a nice day out. There are also a lot of cultural museums that teach a lot about the history of the region surrounding Madison as well as the city itself, or virtually anything else you could want to learn about. Some notable museums in or near Madison include:

  • The Madison Children’s Museum
  • The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art
  • The Wisconsin Historical Museum
  • The Wisconsin Science Museum

9. University of Wisconsin-Madison & Other Colleges

UWM-Madison, or the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is one of the best colleges in Wisconsin and in the country at large. Not only is the campus really nice, but the sports are hugely popular in the area, and the Badgers (the football team) are a huge deal. Fans here are really passionate, and many love both the Badgers at the local level and the Packers at the state level. Whatever you do, just don’t let them know if you’re a Bears fan.

There are other colleges here too, though, and these are Madison Area Technical College, Edgewood College, and Herzing university. If you are looking to get a graduate degree, or have children about to reach college age, then you will all certainly have a good possibility of being able to stay in the area if you live in Madison.

UWM Madison in particular is a great college to have around because the college runs programsOpens in a new tab. to help benefit the local community, under the premise of the “Wisconsin Idea”, their name for their general desire to do outreach in the Madison area and beyond.

10. The Abundance of Lakes

The Madison area boasts not one, not two, not three… but FIVE lakes in its immediate vicinity! Between these five lakes, there are a lot of both public and private beaches, docks, and boat slips, as well as some great lakeside restaurants. Fans of boating, fishing, paddle boarding, kayaking, canoeing, and more will love the abundance of freshwater lakes in the area.

The proximity to the lake can also be a huge boon to those that like to live near the water, as the views can be really gorgeous if you get a spot right next to or pretty close to the water.

11. Plentiful Parks

Madison has the highest number of parks per capita in the United States, and there really is one on almost every corner. Whether you are looking for playgrounds to take your kids to, green spaces of grass to play soccer in, frisbee golf courses, or places to let your dog run free, there is no shortage of any of these things in Madison. The city really is both easy to stay active in and a lot more beautiful due to all these parks.

12. Mild Summers, Beautiful Falls, and Snowy Winters

The summers in Madison are really gorgeous, and although they aren’t that long compared to some places, for a few weeks there is some really perfect weather for all sorts of outdoor activities. The fall in Madison is really pretty with all the trees changing color. It does rain a lot, but if you’re someone like me who loves the rain, you’ll know that it makes for the perfect opportunity for a cozy day in. The winter is quite cold and long, but if you enjoy Christmastime, you’ll love the abundance of snow and the way it blankets the city.

13. Great Biking

Madison is a super bikeable city. In fact, it has consistently been certified as a Platinum Bicycle Friendly CityOpens in a new tab. by the League of American Bicyclists. Not only that, but it has been ranked among the top 5 most bikeable cities in the U.S. There is a multitude of bike lanes around the city, and lots of convenient places to lock them up downtown while you shop or eat.

Madison is really a bicyclist’s heaven in a lot of ways, as there are also great bike trails and lots of beautiful parks in the area to bike at as well. There are even some mountain biking (or well, more like “hill biking” as there are no mountains in Wisconsin) areas by Madison as well. People with fat-tire bikes for the snow will also have plenty of places to ride and lots of snow during Madison’s cold winters.

14. Historical Houses and Properties & Rich Historical Heritage

Madison has over 150 historic buildings, including some hotels, warehouses, college campus buildings, churches, homes, and more. The whole city has these scattered throughout, which really adds a lot of charm to the city and allows for a unique look into the city’s unique history.

In fact, there are several historic districts in Madison, meaning that if you live near one or even in one you can get to see these beautiful old buildings all the time. The Madison area was inhabited by the Ho-Chunk Nation, Fox, and Sauk Native American tribes long ago, and the city itself got its start in 1836, meaning that some of these structures are nearing two centuries old!

15. Close to Milwaukee & the Dells

Madison lies only one hour away from the Wisconsin Dells, the waterpark capital of the world. The Dells is a great place to go on a weekend trip, especially for families big and small. It really is a great place to live nearby. In addition, Milwaukee, the biggest city in Wisconsin, lies less than an hour and a half away. This makes visiting Milwaukee quite easy, as it is mostly a highway in between anyways.

If there’s anything you feel like you’re missing in Madison, you can most likely find it in Milwaukee, and if not in Milwaukee, then in Chicago, which is just a couple of hours past Milwaukee. Madison lies in an excellent central location in Wisconsin that really puts you not too far from anything the state has to offer.

16. Tons of Events and Festivals

There really is a never-ending list of eventsOpens in a new tab. going on in Madison in any given month. Many of these events include any combination of art, music, beer, cheese, and bacon, so if you are a fan of any one of these things (or all of them), then you are in luck because they never stop in Madison. Some highlights include Summerpalooza, Oktoberfest, and the Midwest Fire Fest, all of which will really give someone a good feel for the events that take place every year here.

17. Superb Shopping

Great shopping opportunities lay all around in Madison, and there really is no end to the kind of goods you can buy. Madison boasts over 300 different businessesOpens in a new tab., and the vast majority of them are locally owned as well. You can find anything from handcrafted art to clothing and pretty much anything else in Madison’s shopping district.

In addition to the local businesses scattered throughout Madison, there are also several malls in Madison, including the West Towne Mall, East Towne Mall, and the Hillsdale Shopping Center. In fact, there are probably over a dozen shopping centers in total, each with its own little stores, so there really is a lot of variety in what you can find here. Don’t forget to pick up some fried cheese curds at some point!

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