5 Most Walkable Communities in Madison, WI
by James S.
Madison, Wisconsin has always been known as a city that was designed with pedestrians in mind, with a brilliant and nationally-recognized infrastructure that offers safe, efficient, and scenic ways to get to and from practically every corner.
If you don’t own a car and don’t want to pay the daily fee for taking public transit, walking is a great way to get around and staying active. Below, we’ve highlighted what we believe are some of the most pedestrian-friendly parts of the city, most of which are centered in the capitol and downtown areas. Each one of these communities is extremely walkable (trust me, I’ve walked them all) and provides quick access to dining, leisure, shopping, and entertainment options.
Regent is a beautiful community which prides itself on being one of the most walkable and (bike-friendly) areas of Madison, and you’ll certainly notice it when you’re there. This campus-centric neighborhood, located just south of the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, has great views as it follows along the west side of Camp Randall Stadium. The western border of the neighborhood is anchored by vibrant Lakeside Commons shopping areas which contain a mix of local stores and restaurants.
Also on the west side of Regent is Stevens Street Park – an iconic outdoor venue which is popular year-round. The Southwest Bike Path runs through the neighborhood and connects to the new campus bike path, offering an easy way to access all the neighborhoods surrounding the university. In addition to several other park spaces and shops, Regent is home to Highland Corner Grill and the late-night favorite Milio’s Sandwiches.
Perhaps the most famous area of Madison is State Street – a pedestrian-zoned road that extends from the state capitol and runs all the way to the Library Mall on the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus.
Dozens of bars, restaurants, cafés, and entertainment options can be found along the way, including the Orpheum Theatre, Overture Center for the Arts, and of course the Library Mall at the end. During warmer seasons, street performers and buskers are out and about too, adding to the unique atmosphere and sightseeing opportunities up and down the street.
State Street’s entire design and concept center around being walkable, so this is a prime spot if you’re looking for easy access to dozens of places to dine, shop, listen to music, and more.
The State-Langdon district actually overlaps part of State Street and is situated just north of the street’s primary stretch, running up to the coast of Lake Mendota. The area is brimming with historical homes and buildings — including fraternity and sorority houses — and it offers easy access to over 175 restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. According to Walk Score, State-Langdon residents can walk to an average of 28 restaurants within five minutes. Local favorites such as Plaza Tavern, Samba Brazilian Grill, and Hopcat can all be found in this community – making it perfect for an evening out.
Vilas is also near the University of Wisconsin campus, and it’s one of the closest neighborhoods to Camp Randall Stadium — THE place to be on fall Saturdays. The neighborhood’s heart is Monroe Street, which is runs through Vilas and is home to destinations like Mickie’s Dairy Bar, Pizza Brutta, the Madison Public Library, and Trader Joe’s (in case anyone needs groceries). Vilas runs along the shore of Lake Wingra and has an entry point to the UW Arboretum, which features a six-mile biking and walking trail around the lake.
Greenbush is possibly one of the most historic neighborhoods in all of Madison, showcasing buildings and structures which date back to the early 1900s. Just east of Vilas – Greenbrush borders Vilas Beach, Henry Vilas Zoo, the UW Arboretum, and the UW campus. It’s home to Edward Klief Park and offers a micro-melting pot of traditional-meets-modern Madison with established favorites like Greenbush Bakery and millennial hot-spots like Indie Coffee. With over 70 restaurants, bars, and coffee shops are tucked into this gem of a community, there’s always something to do – but if you’re looking for more, the heart of downtown is just a quick bike or bus ride away.
Madison is a meanderer’s miracle in that it offers beautiful neighborhoods with a variety of venues to dine, relax, and be entertained – all within walking distance. A quick stroll could easily turn into an entire night out, which makes the city incredibly unique in both it’s flexibility and accessibility. We’re sure you’ll have a ton of fun when you check out any of our top five most walkable communities in Madison!
If you’d like to check out some more tips on traveling, budgeting, and financial planning, be sure to check out some of our other posts on the Cash Store blog today!
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