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Eden Prairie, MN 55344
Madison, Wisconsin, a beautiful city situated between and around two lakes, is a bustling community. Home to the University of Wisconsin Madison, the city is alive and thriving, especially during school months. If all of that excitement isn’t for you, or you’d like to raise a family outside of the city, one of the city’s many suburbs may be for you. However, there are so many to choose from! To help you in your search, we’ve reviewed 10 of them.
In 2007, Middleton was named the number one best city to live in the United States by Money Magazine. In 2011, the same magazine ranked the city number 8. What makes Middleton so consecutively great? Jobs, family activities, shops, and more make it a wonderful place to live. With a border on Lake Mendota and several parks, there's a lot of green space and water activities to take part in. The walkable downtown has all the necessities, plus unique shops and quirky attractions. There's a pool with a waterside and a splash pool to enjoy during the summer. Many residents make a pretty easy commute to Madison for work, but there are also a couple large employers within the Middleton city limits. The area's golf courses, fun attractions, and recreational areas also attract tourists in the summertime.
Much smaller than other Madison suburbs, Maple Bluff runs along the east coast of Lake Mendota and is home to only about 1,400 people. While the community is known for being affluent, especially those who live on lakefront property in large houses, there are some more affordable housing options in the area. Much of the recreation activities in Maple Bluff are water related, as the area offers a marina and a beach, along with several general-use parks. There's also a country club for those looking to belong to a group. Maple Bluff is also known for being the location of Wisconsin's Governor's Mansion. Schools are nearby, and there are city programs and activities for kids to do in the summer. Actor and comedian Chris Farley hails from Maple Bluff.
Although this area appears to be a part of Madison, it is considered a separate village. Larger than Maple Bluff, but not by much, Shorewood Hills lies on the south shore of Lake Mendota. Its close proximity to parts of southern and western Madison make it ideal for those working in the city, but looking for a smaller-town feel. Since it's situated on the lakeshore, this suburb also has a marina and lakefront property. There's also a large country club, and several recreational programs for both adults and children to take part in. An elementary school is within the limits of the village, and there's a pool and a community garden to visit during the summer months. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, a local attraction is the First Unitarian Society Meeting House.
A much larger suburb, Sun Prairie has about 30,000 residents. A short drive to Madison, Sun Prairie has everything you'd need in a hometown. Some of the many attractions include a historic downtown shopping district, golf courses, festivals, a historical museum, a farmers market during warm months, and more. It is the sixth-fastest growing city in Wisconsin, and has its own school system and newspaper. Home to 32 parks and numerous recreational programs for kids, the area remains a great place outside the city of Madison to raise a family. Houses range from affordable to large and historic.
Another large suburb, Fitchburg lies to the south of Madison. Although it has no large lakes within its borders, there are a couple smaller ones and several parks. It also includes a piece of the University of Wisconsin Arboretum, which is perfect for those who enjoy being outdoors and birdwatching. The area offers mostly affordable single-family homes and apartments, and there are several public and private schools to choose from. Fitchburg offers many recreational programs for children and adults, summer festivals, a nice public library, and some shopping and dining opportunities. A stone’s throw from Madison, the area offers everything a great suburb should.
About a 40 minute drive from the center of Madison, Mt. Horeb is possibly the most unique suburb of the city. Proud of its Norwegian heritage, there are several cultural festivals throughout the year. Its historic Main Street offers unique shopping in restored buildings and Victorian houses. Perhaps the most unique attribute of Mount Horeb is the “Troll Capital of the World”. Due to Norwegian folklore and the large Norwegian population, trolls have been incorporated in lawns, road names, and venue names across the town. Beyond the trolls, the area attracts visitors for its large array of recreational opportunities, along with attractions such as Blue Mound State Park, Cave of the Mounds, Little Norway, The Grumpy Troll Brewery, the Mount Horeb Area Museum, and more.
Sitting just to the southwest of Madison, Verona provides a hometown to many who commute to Madison for work. Perhaps its greatest bragging point is the point in the center of the city, where two well-known and beautiful nature trails cross. The Military Ridge State Bike Trail and the National Ice Age Trail provide residents with a biking and walking connection to Madison, as well as other surrounding cities. Other recreational opportunities include swimming, baseball, and other park activities. Verona also prides itself in its several great schools, public library, and unique downtown shops.
This suburb sits to the north of Madison, and is a short drive to Lake Mendota. The city was ranked number 78 in Money Magazine’s “Best Places to Live” in 2009 due to its affordable home prices and friendly neighborhoods. There are plenty of parks in Waunakee, along with fishing and antique shopping. There are both public and private schools, and plenty of activities going on year-round for the enjoyment of both children and adults. The Village Center includes a gym, fitness center, meeting rooms, businesses, and more.
About 25 minutes south of Madison, Oregon offers small-town living close to the city. Ranked number 99 in Money Magazine’s “Best Places to Live” in 2011, the quaint town has a solid school system and religious diversity. The crime rate is very low and home prices are affordable. For these reasons, the town draws a lot of young families looking to live close to Madison, yet be offset from the hustle and bustle of the city. There are several parks, and the town holds a couple events during the summer. There are a couple restaurants, but shopping and dining are found mainly in nearby cities.
Lake Waubesa, sitting just southeast of Lake Monona, provides a large border for McFarland. Therefore, this pretty suburb does not fall short in the recreation department. There are parks everywhere, which include a boat launch, campground, baseball diamonds, basketball courts, pavilions, kayaking, fishing, canoeing, and more. There are several festivals held in the town, including the Family Festival in the fall. The great schools and recreational opportunities in McFarland attract a lot of families. There’s also a farmers market, a community pool, and several restaurants and cafes in the city.
Want to learn more about Madison? Check out our Madison Neighborhoods article.
Photo Credit: wackybadger