Cities Journal

Top 21 Small Cities In Wisconsin


If you like pleasant towns and small cities, Wisconsin is the place to be. The Midwest may not attract the same hustle and bustle as the big coastal states and cities, but that’s why we love it here. Visiting those big cities can be fun, but for some of us, the quiet life is much more rewarding.

Even if you do love the city, sometimes you’d rather take a trip to local farms and national forests than hit the nightclubs and live on fast food. Here are 21 small cities and towns that make Wisconsin a great place to be.

1. Madison

Who says cutting edge, environment-friendly technology is just for the big cities? Madison boasts a clean-running, propane-powered taxi company. The company has run on propane since 1980, servicing the Madison area with their unique, green cars. The town also boasts some great urban bicycle routes. Think of it like San Francisco minus the hipsters, the massive population, and the tech community.

The population of Madison rests at around a quarter million, according to Google, so it’s definitely more of a small city than a town. If you do mind a slightly busier existence that you’ll find in some areas of Wisconsin, Madison puts you right in the heart of small city living, with access to the peace and quiet and the beautiful, green outdoorsiness of Wisconsin.

The leadership in Madison has always leaned toward greener pastures, with more progressives than conservatives on every ballot. The city also has plans for a streetcar and a light rail system. Locally-sourced restaurants are big in Madison, too, as they well should be, given that Wisconsin has some of the best farmlands in the entire world.

Madison is home to the Freedom from Religion Foundation, a group that focuses on influencing the government toward greater separation of church and state.

Stereotypically, we regard big cities and coastal states as being more progressive, with the South and the Midwest tending toward more conservative politics, but the environmentally-friendly initiatives in Madison, the progressive leadership and groups like FFRF all help to make Madison one of the most liberal cities in the country.

If you’re more politically neutral, moderate or even conservative, Madison might not be for you, but if you’re an environmentalist, or if your politics leans left and you’d like to reduce your carbon footprint, Madison, WI is a pretty easy place to live, with the city’s official website pointing to Mayor Soglin’s progressive record.

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