The Lay of the Land
In Madison, you're generally an east-sider or a west-sider, with the north side usually being part of the east side and the south side shelved with the west side. Then there are the stand-alone communities whose boundaries are within the city of Madison -- Maple Bluff, Shorewood and Monona. And just where does Madison become Fitchburg?
Here's some help on where people live, where things are and what not to miss. >More A Madison Quiz
By Bill Lueders
Are you a lifer? A noob? Carpetbagger? Closet Milwaukeean? Test your city smarts, plus more fun facts about Madtown with an interactive city quiz. [opens a new window] >More Maps
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- Madison's West Side
- Madison's Isthmus
- Madison's East Side Isthmus Eats Restaurant Guide
A fully searchable (for instance: try malts), comprehensive guide to dining in Madison, available 24/7 here as well as via your mobile device at m.isthmus.com.
Isthmus readers give the nod to their favorite persons, places and things
Arts & Entertainment
Recreation & Fitness
Odds & Ends
Helpful information about Madison and environs for newcomers and old-timers
New in town?
The resource directory that follows has scads of useful information, but we've pulled out some of the most pertinent for newcomers and highlighted it in this section.
Yes, it's the year of The Lion King at the Overture Center. Yet the 32-show run of the Broadway blockbuster next spring won't overshadow the many grassroots groups who continue to do excellent work in spaces ranging from former movie theaters to housing co-ops.
Why wait for others to solve problems for you when you can take action yourself? Madison is a very grass-roots kind of place, whether it comes to working for health care care refore, Peace, equal rights or a myriad of other important causes.
Madison is not just a college town; it's a multiple-college town. It's home to the University of Wisconsin-Madison as well as Edgewood College and Madison Area Technical College. A raft of other satellite campuses and special program schools fill out the roster.
We reduce, reuse and recycle. We patronize farmers' markets and join CSAs. Dane County communities struggle to protect farmland from the expanding suburbs. The Ice Age Trail Foundation acquires land to complete the trail. And we never ever leave our picnic garbage on the ground.
Madison is governed by a mayor and body of individuals oft referred to as "alders" -- people, not trees-- who make up the common council. Yes, mind the lingo: it's not city council, it's common council. Dane County is run by the county executive. There are about 60 municipalities, including villages, towns and cities, within Dane County.
The University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics and Meriter are the heavy hitters, with the American Family Children's Hospital and the Veteran's Administration Hospital rounding out major services. The Don and Marilyn Anderson HospiceCare Center and the Ellen and Peter Johnson HospiceCare Residence are great area resources, located in Fitchburg. And there are support groups for friends and family members for health and wellness concerns.
Print media, media that comes to you via the airwaves. Citizen journalists. Bloggers. Some folks even get their news directly through the fillings in their teeth.
Picnic in summer, sled and ski and skate in winter. Watch for birds all year round. We love green space and enjoy a wonderful system of city, county and state parks.
The safety net you've heard so much about, and the many ways it may be able to help.
Special Interest Groups
Put on your hand-beaded vest to go play bridge, then deliver a meal to a senior and finish out the day with a rousing game of Scrabble.
The UW-Badgers loom large, but there are the Northwoods League Madison Mallards baseball team, bicycling clubs, disc golf, ultimate Frisbee, even polo and squash. And we do know how to take advantage of those lakes, too.
Though funding for expansion has slowed, Madison already has an excellent network of bike paths. Don't have a bike? Borrow one from the Red Bike program. Don't have a car? Join the car sharing service Community Car. You can take a Badger or a Greyhound or a Van Galder bus out of town. Want to take a train? Sorry, you're out of luck.