Madison cityscape over Lake Monona

#1 Best City to Live in the US

The University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics are located in Madison, Wisconsin, the state’s capital and beloved isthmus city set between the two largest of five sparkling lakes boasting beautiful scenery and plentiful outdoor adventure year-round, as well as vibrant arts, culinary, and education hubs. Madison is the second largest and fastest growing city in the state with a city population of approximately 260,000 and a regional population of over one million. While boasting many big city amenities, Madison is an easy city in which to live. 

Nestled around Lakes Mendota and Monona, Madison is about as picturesque as it gets, and the Terrace at Memorial Union on campus at the University of Wisconsin might be the most delightful spot in the Midwest. The city is within easy driving range of Chicago and Milwaukee, as well as a few hours from Minnesota's Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul and our state's own breathtakingly beautiful Door County peninsula.

Madison is consistently ranked one of the best places to live in the U.S. on measures ranging from fitness to food to family life. In 2021 and 2022, even ranked it as the #1 city to live in the US! There is plenty of green space within the city and tons of lakefront since it sits on an isthmus, but it’s also within 50 miles of 21 state parks, forests and recreation areas. Madison is a friendly, easy-to-navigate city that’s full of things to do and see—it's a great and affordable place to live and work for both individuals and families.

Popular downtown destinations: Memorial Union and its lakefront terrace, Lakeshore Path and Picnic Point, the UW Arboretum, Wisconsin State Capitol, and State Street.


The changing seasons in many ways define life in Wisconsin, and in Madison, we find creative ways to get the most out of each one. Built on an isthmus and surrounded by lakes, Madison blends the city and campus, green spaces and urban areas, to create a place unlike anywhere else. Take a trip around the sun with us and explore for yourself.

University of Wisconsin-Madison


Since its founding in 1848, the University of Wisconsin–Madison has been a catalyst for the extraordinary. As a public land-grant university and prolific research institution, our students, staff, and faculty members partake in a world-class education and solve real-world problems. Founded on the principle that Wisconsin's state university "should ever encourage that continual and fearless sifting and winnowing by which alone the truth can be found," UW–Madison has ranked in the top 10 in national research funding every year since 1972.

And with the Wisconsin Idea as our guiding principle, we’re not only changing the 936 acres we call home—Badgers are also creating a better future for Wisconsin, the nation, and the world.



In Wisconsin, you’ll find the very best of the “Midwest spirit”. From lake life to the genuine neighborliness you’ll encounter here, Wisconsin finds a way to capture the hearts of our residents moving here from out of state.

Whether you’re looking to explore breathtaking outdoor trails and vistas all year round, taste your way through a distinctly Wisconsin mix of world-class dining, breweries, wineries, and America’s most famous cheese curds (both deep-fried and squeaky), or live in a city alive with music and art, there is an incredible amount to see and do here in Wisconsin during your time at UW. With ample Great Lakes coastline, diverse geography carved by glaciers during the last ice age, and more than 15,000 lakes, no two regions in Wisconsin are alike, and each is special in its own way.

Wisconsin is home to the largest musical festival in the world, the only publicly-owned NFL team in the nation, and enough farm-to-table dining options to impress even the most ardent foodie—all while remaining a place where the cost of living is among the lowest in the nation. So stop reading and start exploring Wisconsin's six distinct regions, major cities outside of Madison, and must-see things in our state!

Top Fall Activities: Chasing fall colors, apple picking, hiking
Top Summer Entertainment: Summerfest, Concerts on the SquareAmerican Players Theatre
Top Winter Entertainment: Ice skating and Ice bars
Major Sports Teams: Milwaukee Bucks, Milwaukee Brewers, Green Bay Packers, Forward Madison FC
Foodie Faves: Old Fashioned cheese curds, Oktoberfests, and the Dane County Farmers' Market (the largest producer-only market in the nation)

Spirit of Wisconsin