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Boasting a magical blend of culture, history and academia, Wisconsin is home to some of the finest college towns in the country.
From bustling city centers to quaint rural communities, these towns brim with youthful energy and a passion for learning. Let’s embark on a journey to explore some of the best college towns in Wisconsin, where we’ll discover Madison, Appleton, De Pere, Milwaukee and Eau Claire.
As Wisconsin’s capital city, Madison is also home to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, making it the epicenter of collegiate life in the state. This picturesque city benefits from a stunning location nestled between two sparkling lakes and is home to a diverse community teeming with creativity and innovation. As one of the best college towns in Wisconsin, Madison caters to the needs of students, residents and visitors alike, with an abundance of restaurants, shops and entertainment options. From biking and kayaking along the miles of shoreline to perusing the eclectic shops and eateries on State Street, there’s always something to do in this bustling city.
The heart and soul of Madison’s college scene is the iconic Memorial Union Terrace (pictured above), a lakeside gathering spot where students and locals alike can enjoy live music, outdoor movies and delicious local fare. If art and culture are more your speed, don’t miss the Chazen Museum of Art or the Wisconsin Historical Museum. Madison’s rich history and progressive atmosphere make it one of the top college towns in Wisconsin and is perfect for students seeking a well-rounded college experience.
Home to Lawrence University, Appleton is a charming city that harmoniously blends its history with a modern atmosphere. This college town is nestled along the Fox River, where the abundant natural beauty provides a serene backdrop for the city’s bustling downtown area. Appleton’s arts scene, supplemented by the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center and Trout Museum of Art, makes it one of the best college towns in Wisconsin for students with an appreciation for culture and creativity.
Appleton’s picturesque downtown is lined with unique shops, delicious dining options and lively entertainment venues, ensuring there’s never a dull moment. In addition to its thriving downtown, the city’s historic sites, such as the Hearthstone Historic House Museum and the Atlas Science Center, offer a fascinating glimpse into the area’s past. Appleton’s commitment to preserving its heritage while embracing the future makes it a standout among college towns in Wisconsin, perfect for students seeking a blend of old-world charm and contemporary activity.
Located just south of Green Bay, De Pere is a quaint and idyllic college town that’s home to St. Norbert College, a private liberal arts institution. The Fox River meanders through the heart of this cozy community, providing a picturesque setting for students and locals to enjoy outdoor activities like walking, biking and fishing. De Pere’s small-town charm and friendly atmosphere undoubtedly make it one of the most inviting college towns in Wisconsin.
De Pere’s historic downtown district is a treasure trove of boutique shops, cozy cafes and unique eateries, where seasonal students and year-round locals alike can indulge in unique flavors and discover one-of-a-kind finds. The De Pere Riverwalk and Wildlife Viewing Area offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle and the community’s commitment to the arts is evident in the events and performances hosted at the charming St. Norbert College. If you’re looking for a college town in Wisconsin that offers a tight-knit community and a serene environment, De Pere is the perfect fit.
Affectionately known as ‘Brew City,’ Milwaukee is Wisconsin’s largest city and home to several higher education institutions, including the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Marquette University and Milwaukee School of Engineering. This bustling metropolis is a diverse environment that caters to students seeking an exciting, city-based college experience. Milwaukee’s lively arts and culture, combined with its beautiful lakefront location, make it one of the best college towns in Wisconsin for students craving a dynamic atmosphere while they pursue their degrees.
Milwaukee has a plethora of entertainment options, from the iconic Harley-Davidson Museum to the historic Pabst Theater and so much more. Foodies will find no shortage of delectable dining options, as the city boasts a wide variety of restaurants, breweries and food trucks, serving up everything from traditional Wisconsin fare to global cuisines. Milwaukee’s unique blend of urban excitement and Midwestern charm makes it a standout among college towns in Wisconsin, perfect for students eager to experience city life during their college years.
As a bonus, we’ll introduce you to Eau Claire, a vibrant city that’s home to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Known for its strong arts and music scene, Eau Claire boasts a rich cultural heritage that permeates the entire community. From the stunning Pablo Center at the Confluence to the numerous music festivals held throughout the year, Eau Claire’s creative spirit makes it a standout among Wisconsin college towns.
The city’s lively downtown area offers a wide variety of shopping, dining and entertainment options for students and locals alike. Outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate the city’s extensive network of parks and trails, including the beautiful Chippewa River State Trail and Putnam Park. Eau Claire’s thriving arts scene, coupled with its commitment to sustainability and community engagement, make it a top choice for students seeking a well-rounded college experience in Wisconsin.
Welcome to your Wisconsin college town
With their rich histories, youthful communities and top-notch educational institutions, these college towns in Wisconsin offer an unforgettable college experience. From bustling cities like Milwaukee to charming small towns like De Pere, there’s a perfect fit for every student in the Badger State.