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A Guide to Living in Madison, Connecticut

Graphic with photos representing Madison CT

There are 24 towns and cities in the United States that share the name Madison, primarily because of the popularity of James Madison, the country's fourth president.

Some of these places are small villages with under 1,000 people, while others are major cities with metro areas featuring populations of over 600,000.

Madison, Connecticut sits somewhere in between those two extremes. In this town, you'll find about 18,000 people, but the area is so much more than that.

Connecticut's Madison offers oceanfront living, an incredible amount of history, and access to major centers, without having to live in them.

For these reasons, Madison, Connecticut provides an unmatched way of life that you're sure to fall in love with once wander its streets or lounge on its beaches.

A History of Madison, Connecticut

As with many towns and cities along the country's East Coast, Madison has a lengthy history.

Europeans first bought the land from the Nehantic and Mohegan tribes in 1641, finally settling there in 1650. At this time, it was called East Guilford, even after its split from the town of Guilford in 1707.

The town took the Madison name in 1826, and quickly established itself as a hub in the shipbuilding, farming, and fishing industries.

You can still see remnants of the past throughout the town thanks to places like the Allis-Bushnell House, Deacon John Grave House, and Jonathan Murray house, all of which remain standing from the 17th and 18th centuries.

Madison's Five Neighborhoods

When looking for a home in Madison, Connecticut, you'll notice that there are five neighborhoods from which to choose.

The main part of town is called Madison Center and is home to shops, restaurants, and the famous Madison Green. Most of Madison Center's attractions are on Boston Post Road, Wall Street, and Bradley Road, and it's easily walkable if you want to check it out.

Following Boston Post Road or Interstate 95 west from Madison Center takes you to neighborhood of East River, which borders Guilford. This part of town is mostly residential, although you'll find a few shops and restaurants as you get closer to the river.

The southeast part of town is called Hammonasset Point, and it features a state park and a natural area preserve. You'll also find some beachfront properties in this area that overlook Long Island Sound.

Heading north on Durham Road from Madison Center takes you to North Madison, which has some schools, a library, and a small shopping mall. This area has a lot of tree cover, so pretty much every house is incredibly private.

Continuing on Durham Road brings you to Rockland, another residential area with private yards and a massive park. Rockland is also close to neighboring cities like Meriden and Middletown.

Ways to Spend Your Time in Madison, CT

When living in Madison, you'll likely spend a lot of time outdoors because there is so much space to get out there and enjoy. Hammonasset State Park is a great place to start, as it is 900 acres in size and has two miles of beach on Long Island Sound. You can also hike or do some birdwatching during your time there.

Bauer Park is another place with plenty to do thanks to its nature programs. The park is quite a bit smaller than Hammonasset, as it’s 64 acres, but it's also an easier area to find parking.

Rockland Preserve is 649 acres and is popular because of its biking trails. If you're into riding your bike through the woods, this is the place for you.

Swimming in the ocean or relaxing in the sand is possible at East Wharf Beach, West Wharf Beach, and Surf Club Beach. East Wharf Beach has a large parking area and kayak rentals, while West Wharf Beach has a smaller parking lot and is less busy. Despite its name, Surf Club Beach is a public area with a decent amount of parking.

When you're not in the mood for the parks or beaches, the central section of Boston Post Road, known colloquially as Main Street, is lined with old buildings, local shops, and great restaurants. It's easy to spend the way wandering through this area, even if you're not heading anywhere in particular.

Madison, Connecticut Schools

In 2013, CBS News named Madison, CT's school district as the ninth most attractive in the entire country. The education system remains a selling point of the town, so if you have school-aged kids, you could certainly do worse.

Madison’s public system has:

Two elementary schools – Ryerson and J. Milton Jeffery

One intermediate school for grades 4 and 5 – Robert H. Brown

One middle school for grades 6-8 – Walter C. Polson

One high school for grades 9 through 12 – Daniel Hand

Private schools in the town include The Country School (preschool – grade 8), Grove School (grade 7 – 12 boarding school), and Our Lady of Mercy School (preschool – grade 8).

You'll Love It

As you can see, Madison, Connecticut provides a quintessential New England way of life, without having to deal with living in a major city.

If you do want to take off to Boston or New York, however, you can get there in between two and two-and-a-half hours, depending on traffic. You're also a short drive from New Haven and Hartford but can spend your time relaxing on a beach or disappearing into the woods when you aren't craving the city life.

Madison, Connecticut offers the best of both worlds, so if you're looking for a place where you can have it all, this might be it.