Neighborhood Spotlight: Everything You Need To Know About Monona, WI
This Madison suburb hugs the eastern shore of Lake Monona. This charming area has a history of resort living. In the early 20th century, Monona’s Tonyawatha Spring was rumored to have healing properties. This claim drew Madison’s wealthy class to the area. Cozy cabins and quaint markets were built to accommodate the vacation boom town.
Now, it’s a lovely community to be a part of. You have quick access to the rest of the city. Monona is only 5 miles from downtown Madison. Living in Monona means living on the sunset side of the lake.
History of Monona
Before becoming it’s own town, Monona was part of the Town of Blooming Grove. It was incorporated into its own town in 1938. Before the split, Monona was mostly farmland and vacation homes. Long-time residents still remember a time when the only homes were cabins and chalets. Madison residents would travel to Monona by steamboat. They’d spend their summers in a spa-like resort. During prohibition, the village gained a bit of reputation as an underground “entertainment” district.
There was originally some pushback about incorporation. Many Blooming Grove’s residents wanted to preserve their pastoral town. But progress could not be fought. Incorporation brought small businesses and permanent residents to the area.
In the 1950’s Monona was the fasted growing town in America. But it wasn’t until the 60’s that Monona began to build community amenities like the public library, fire departments, and community pool.
If you’re interested in learning more about Monona’s history, check out The Dean House. The 1856 Italianate home is a well-preserved relic of the Blooming Grove days. You can also catch live music at The Dean House during their annual Back Porch Concert Series.
Recreation in Monona
A beautiful beach along the Lake Monona shoreline. You can spend all day splashing, swimming, boating, and grilling. It’s easy to spend all day at Schluter Beach. Stay until sunset to watch gorgeous colors reflected over the waters.
In 2015, Monona became a bronze-level bike-friendly community. The status was renewed in 2020. This certification acknowledges Monona for its commitment to creating safe and sustainable transportation. Check out Monona’s bike route map here. You can also use the Low-Stress Bike Route finder, an interactive map that shows you the different stress levels for different roads throughout the city.
Winnequah Park is a bragging-rights kind of park. It’s got 45 acres of green space and a picturesque creek that runs through it and the heart of the village. The Monona Optimist’s Club built a “Dream Park” in Winnequah that resembles a castle. You must cross paths with a wizard before entering the castle gates. Then, your children will be able to explore a castle with turrets, a swinging bridge, a moat, and dragon sculptures.
There are also 6 baseball diamonds, soccer fields, tennis courts, the Monona Community Center, and Community Pool.
Monona is part of the Monona Grove School District. In this district, you’ll find:
- Taylor Prarie Elementary School
- Winnequah Elementary School
- Cottage Grove Elementary School
- Granite Ridge School (currently under construction)
- Glacial Drumlin Middle School
- Monona Grove High School
- MG21 Charter School
Memorial Day Parade
Kick-off the summer with the Memorial Day Weekend Parade in Monona. Monona residents are proud of the fact that their parade is the largest and longest-running parade in all of Wisconsin. It’s one big party!
Fourth of July
The 4th of July is a big deal in Monona. Residents celebrate with a multi-day Monona Community Festival. It’s held every year in Winnequah Park. The festival ends with a giant fireworks show.
Biergarten at the Beach
Why wait for the fall to have an Oktoberfest? Sip local brews on the beach and enjoy lawn games, live music, and dancing. Biergarten on the beach takes place at Schluter beach June-September.
The Fall Festival
The Fall Festival is the perfect way to kick off the change of seasons. Each year there is a 5K, chili cook-off, arts and crafts fair, and a pie party. Yep, a pie party!
Candlelight Snowshoe Hike & Bonfire
Hundreds of tea lights line the trails of the Aldo Leopold Nature Center, the Edna Taylor Conservancy, and Woodland Park. Snowshoe and hike along the flickering trails. When you’re finished exploring, snuggle up next to a roaring bonfire with a cup of hot chocolate.
Best Places to Dine and Drink in Monona
Waypoint Public House
The atmosphere is airy minimalist. The menu is fresh and creative. This is a great choice for brunch with a waterside view.
Forage’s mission is to infuse the midwest with crave-worthy nutritious food. They use local ingredients and do a beautiful job of making healthy food accessible and delicious. They even brew their own kombucha.
Snicks Sportsmans Bar
Outed as the best dive bar in Monona (possibly even in Madison!) this spot is nothing fancy. But it’s exactly what you want in a local dive. Friendly, homey, affordable, and rowdy on game days.
Snicks hasn’t posted an online menu, but you can check out their reviews here.
Homes for Sale in Monona
The median home price in Monona is $357,893. The Monona market has grown by 12.1% in the past year. Most of the architecture in Monona is modest. You’ll see lots of ranch and bungalow homes. Though there are many luxury homes along the waterfront. Homes along Tonyawatha Trail have some of the best views of the downtown Madison skyline in all of Dane County.
Click here to look for a home for sale in Monona.