Bay Creek Neighborhood, Madison WI

Tucked along the water, just south of downtown Madison, you’ll find this thriving neighborhood quietly making a name for itself.

Bay Creek boasts walkability to numerous restaurants, coffee shops, parks, the Goodman Pool, the Arboretum, the Henry Vilas Zoo & numerous lakeside hangouts. This Madison neighborhood should be on your radar if you crave easy access to urban amenities, bike trails, bus routes & nature. 

Bay Creek covers that crescent-shaped stretch of land along the southern edge of Monona Bay. With its outdoorsy feel, Bay Creek remains well connected to UW Madison, downtown, the beltline & the Madison hospital hub, via John Nolen Drive & South Park Street.

Bay Creek offers a diverse housing inventory. Everything from modest to grand, funky bold, modern & everything in-between- the neighborhood has no shortage of character & charm.  

Bike commuting from Bay Creek is a snap. Downtown Madison, UW Madison & the hospitals are all quickly accessible by bike. The Southwest Commuter Trail paves way for a beautiful ride east or west as well.

Bay Creek is home to Madison’s Woodland Montessori School & Franklin Elementary School.

Ripe For Development

South Park Street has undergone much change in recent years as it continues to be an area ripe for redevelopment. Projects of this magnitude typically put upward pressure on home values, so Bay Creek will likely continue to be a wise neighborhood to invest in for multiple reasons.


Bay Creek remained rural & remote for decades following the European settling of Madison. The marshy topography made travel difficult after heavy rains & impossible in the spring. A large hill of sand once stood near the western edge of neighborhood. Known as Deadman's Ridge, this was the site of several Indian burial mounds & an unofficial pioneer cemetery. Deadman’s Ridge was eventually leveled to fill the marsh west of Fish Hatchery Hill. More Bay Creek history can be found here.

When Madison’s population began to boom in the 1880s (thanks to the bustling UW-Madison & new factories in need of employee housing), developers turned to Bay Creek, and the neighborhood as we know it began to take shape. Today, Bay Creek is often considered a “hidden gem” by those just starting out on their home search.

Originally named “South Madison”, Bay Creek long considered itself a separate community before the City of Madison annexed it in 1923. Today, Bay Creek has grown into a sought-after place to live, close to the heart of Madison. John Nolen Drive and Park Street offer direct access to downtown, the UW campus, and the Beltline.

The Lost City

In the Arboretum just west of Bay Creek resides Madison’s very own lost city. In the early 1900’s, the Lake Forest subdivision was slated to be Madison’s “Venice of the North,” complete with lagoons, canals & shoreline properties.

 While 7 homes were actually completed, the swampland swallowed the subdivision just 11 years after its inception. Financial mismanagement, fraud, World War I & the underestimated amount of fill needed for building on the wet soil resulted in the sunken dreams & bankruptcy for its developers.

Fun Fact

The Bay Creek neighborhood is home to Madison’s greatest optical illusion. Try this out for yourself! Bring a friend or family member to see if they can spot the illusion for themselves.

Want to learn about other Madison metro neighborhoods? Check out our Madison Metro Neighborhood Guide.

 Do you have an interesting fact, piece of history or trivia to share about your neighborhood? Get in touch- we would love to hear about it!