Best Places to Live

Appleton, WI

Population: 73,118
LIV
SCORE
606
iStock/DenisTangneyJr

Located just north of Lake Winnebago along the shores of the Fox River in Wisconsin, Appleton is a small city with tons of great amenities and almost none of the headaches you’d find in a big city. One of the safest cities in Wisconsin, with a low cost of living and a growing entertainment and food scene, Appleton is increasingly appealing to young families and young professionals.

Though the winters do get cold and snowy, people in Appleton have learned to embrace it and have found hundreds of ways to get outside and enjoy the season. The cold also makes residents that much more appreciative of warmer months. There’s rarely a summer day that passes without a concert, festival or market somewhere in Appleton as the residents make the most of the spring and summer months.

Appleton combines access to top-tier entertainment, restaurants and breweries with the quaint charm of a small town. It’s a perfect combination that makes this Wisconsin city a fabulous place to settle down.

Climate Described in 6 Words Or Less: All four seasons possible each day.

Top Industries and Employers: ThedaCare Health Systems, Thrivent Financial and Miller Electric are three of the biggest employers in town. A part of Wisconsin’s “Paper Valley,” you’ll also find paper industry-adjacent companies like Appvion and Reynolds consumer products.

Local Dream Job: Curator at The History Museum at the Castle

Quintessential Meal: Whatever strikes your fancy at Apollon as long as you start your meal with the saganaki (flaming cheese plate). Starting your day with a pastry from Manderfield’s Bakery would be an acceptable alternative.

Favorite Weekend Activity: Getting outside. There are 28 public parks in Appleton, plus the Fox River, Fox Trot Trail, Bubolz Nature Preserve, a long list of summer concert series, Erb Park pool, Butterfly Gardens of Wisconsin and a very good farmers’ market. In the evening, kick back at a Wisconsin Timber Rattlers game, the single-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, or head to Bazaar After Dark Night Market.

After-Work Meetup Spot: Appleton Beer Factory. Located in a former auto garage, this place is charmingly industrial chic with a big, wide-open tap room.

Beloved Bookstore: The Book Store, where you can buy, sell, trade or even rent books from this independent spot with 80,000 titles that’s been serving the area for more than 40 years.

Free Way to Have Fun: Mile of Music. This free festival stretches across four days at the start of August in 2019 and features 200 artists playing 900 shows to more than 80,000 people in 70 venues on a one-mile stretch through downtown Appleton.

Best Local Beer: Stone Arch Brew House Vanilla Stout made by the longest continually running brewpub in the state.

Hidden Gem: Performances at the Conservatory at Lawrence University. Not only are the students themselves consistent national award-winners who put on productions and concerts, but the school brings in a wide variety of national and international artists for concerts.

- Nicole Haase

Read More:

The Best Places to Live in Wisconsin

10 Reasons to Move to Wisconsin

The 20 Greatest Things About Living in the Midwest

“I have developed the most important relationships in my life in this town. My family is here. We enjoy the seasons … The lakes, the ballgames, the golf, the concerts, the brats, the beer, and of course the fried cheese curds!”

Matt Erickson
Manager of the Wisconsin TimberRattlers

Appleton, WI Ranking Data

Civic
67
Demographics
43
Economy
62
Education
61
Health
66
Housing
53
Infrastructure
67