Middleton is an affluent suburb just west of downtown Madison. It’s no cookie-cutter suburb, however: Its pioneer-era roots as a trading post stretch back as long as Madison’s, and the town has a character and feel all its own. (This despite the fact that it is in fact named after another city: Middletown, CT.)
Middleton offers small-time charm with close proximity to metropolitan life. The population, as of 2010, is 17,442, many of them commuters into Madison proper. The town also houses several major employers: Capital Brewing, Electronic Theater Controls, and The American Girl Company (yes, that American Girl). And Middleton is also home to one of Wisconsin’s weirdest tourist attractions, The National Mustard Museum. Founded by former Assistant Attorney General of Wisconsin Barry Levenson, the museum features over 5,000 mustard jars, numerous displays about the history, science, and production of mustard, and a deluxe tasting room, in which visitors are encouraged to sample the popular condiment.
Middleton is known for its leafy, quiet streets and good schools — in 2014, Middleton High was named the #1 high school in the state of Wisconsin. Such excellence should come as no surprise, given the number of UW professors who live in the area. Over 25% of Middleton, or as it is unofficially known, The Good Neighbor City, is open space, and there are over 1000 acres dedicated to parks and conservancy areas. Municipal services like the town’s award-winning library and the state-of-the-art, 900-seat Performing Arts Center are well-funded and popular with residents.
Shopping and dining follows University Avenue, which runs east-to-west through town. East of Highway 12, you’ll find the west-side location of Madison’s popular Willy Street Co-op, as well as Middleton’s quaint downtown, home to Capital Brewing, the Mustard Museum, and a host of other local bars and restaurants. West of 12 lies a large business park, containing a few national chains (Costco, P.F. Chang’s, etc) and Wisconsin’s largest craft distillery, Death’s Door Spirits.
The rental market in Middleton is less undergraduate-dominated than many other areas in Madison, and caters to an older, slightly more affluent crowd. A number of upscale apartment complexes provide most of the available apartments.