City Life

A Newcomers Guide to Madison

Let us show you around your new isthmus city

When you move someplace new, you’re lucky if there’s a moment of reassurance that, yes, you’re in the right place.

For newcomers to Madison, that moment is likely to happen when driving down John Nolen Drive toward the heart of Wisconsin’s isthmus city—one of only 24 in the world. Picture a red-orange sun setting on a hot summer day as you approach the point where the road cuts between Lake Monona and the bay, with the gorgeous domed Capitol on the horizon. It’s a stunning centerpiece in a skyline rivaled in beauty only by its own reflection in the glistening lake. As you turn the corner on John Nolen, you notice kayaks and paddleboards bobbing near the shore while joggers take in the last bit of sunlight on the lakeside path.

It gets us every time.

If you’re an out-of-towner and find yourself taken by this sight, you’re a-goner—might as well start forwarding your mail now.

For those who’ve just moved here or soon will, welcome to Madison—a social, cultural and intellectual hub that is worthy of the top spots it’s often awarded in “best places to live” polls. In this guide, you’ll learn about the city’s distinct neighborhoods and pockets of eclectic restaurants, shops and histories that give this place its unique character. Madison is a city welcoming to bicyclists, families, students, foodies, Badgers fans, environmentalists, feminists, farmers, ice fishers, city dwellers, art lovers and, most importantly, you.

Still not convinced you should move here? Grab a sunburst seat and a drink at the Union Terrace, page through this guide and get back to us on that.

Find 9 Madison-isms you'll want to know here.

Here are 9 surprising facts you may not have known about Madison.

Welcome to the neighborhood!

What is so charming about Madison, the second-largest city in Wisconsin, is its 124 vibrant neighborhoods scattered across nearly 77 square miles of land. With distinct vibes of their own, they blend seamlessly into the town’s tapestry to form one welcoming, diverse community. Come with us while we take you on a tour of five of the largest neighborhoods: Capitol, Regent, Tenney-Lapham, Marquette and Schenk-Atwood.

Capitol Neighborhoods: The heart of the city.

Regent: An area with unmistakable energy.

Tenney-Lapham: A residential hotspot.

Marquette: One of the nations '10 Great Neighborhoods'.

Schenk-Atwood: Main Street, U.S.A.


Here are some words of wisdom from 4 new Madisonians.

Learn about the distinct personalities of Madison's west and east sides.

Here is data that newcomers need to know.

Check out this Madison index for a selection of places, business and advertisers in the area.

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