Muskego is the fifth largest city in Waukesha County, with a population of just over 25,000. The city has a total area of nearly 36 square miles, which includes three lakes: Big Muskego Lake, Little Muskego Lake and Lake Denoon. While its roots as a settlement date back to 1827, it wasn’t incorporated until 1964.
Muskego gets its name from the Potawatomi Indians, who called it Mus-kee-Guaac, or “sunfish.” Early white settlers in the 1830s included Yankees in Muskego center, the English in Durham Hill, Irish in Denoon, Germans in Tess Corners and the Norwegians in Lake Denoon. The area quickly became one of the Midwest’s most thriving Norwegian settlements and the site of the first Norwegian-American newspaper.
Farmers in the area sent their crops into the growing city of Milwaukee on Janesville Plank Road. Milwaukee residents, in turn, came out to Muskego for recreation – first on a trolley line and later on new roads – at lake resorts, cottages and Muskego Beach Amusement Park.
Today, Muskego maintains a pleasant balance of beautiful, natural spaces for recreation with desirable housing and a diverse business base.
Homes and Neighborhoods
In 2018, Muskego was named the third top city to buy a home by pennygeeks.com, based on the proximity to cultural attractions (just 20 minutes downtown Milwaukee), low crime rate, affordable housing and top schools. The city consistently ranks among the safest cities in Wisconsin and the U.S.
Muskego is known for charming, friendly neighborhoods in a beautiful setting, with an emphasis on preserving natural resources and open spaces. Some of the shoreline on each of the three lakes has been developed for residential housing. While Muskego offers a natural, suburban atmosphere, it’s also very pedestrian friendly and offers a number of biking and walking trails.
Single-family, detached homes make up 85 percent of all housing units in the city, with the remainder being apartment and condo units. The median home value has risen consistently through the years and reached $357,000 in 2020. The median household income is close to $87,000.
Shopping and Dining
Muskego offers a variety of shopping opportunities, from small family-owned stores to large national retailers, along Janesville Road, Moorland Road and Racine Avenue. An active Chamber of Commerce keeps business members connected to residents, new and old.
There are a variety of local favorites for dining, including Marx Pioneer Inn, a family sports bar that offers nightly food and beverage specials in an old home setting. Tres Locos offers delicious, authentic Mexican specialties and margaritas. The Three Legged Pig uses family recipes to make authentic barbecue dinners. Bass Bay Brew House offers lakeside supper-club-style dining using local ingredients. Mickey’s Family Grill offers comfort food in a casual, family setting for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Muskego has no shortage of bar and grill restaurants. Mug Z’s Pub and Grill is a friendly corner bar with a full menu. Danny Haskell’s Pub & Grill offers casual drinking and dining on Little Muskego Lake, complete with space to dock your boat. Lucky’s at the Lodge is known for burgers, wraps, fish fries and Lucktoberfest in October. The P&B Station has an extensive Friday Fish Fry menu, along with pizza, wings and grill items.
The Gingerbread House offers fresh baked goods, coffee, sandwiches, soups and a boutique in a restored 1885 farmhouse. Vintage Grounds offers coffee, cocktails and all-day breakfast, sandwiches and salads.
Points of Interest and Recreation
Muskego’s 13 beautiful parks offer 327 acres of recreational space, linked to 31 miles of recreational trails. Muskego has more than 1,000 acres of publicly conserved land, including the 153-acre Engel Conservation Area. Residents and visitors to Little Muskego Lake enjoy a variety of lake-related recreational activities, including boating, skiing, sailing, and fishing. The lake contains largemouth bass, northern pike, walleye and several varieties of panfish. The Parks and Recreation Department offers a wide range of classes for all ages in three sessions.
The Muskego Waterbugs perform a free water ski show in front of Idle Isle Park each Wednesday evening at 6:30 between Memorial Day and Labor Day. It’s a 60-year-old Wisconsin tradition. On July 3, neighbors take to their boats to see the Water Bugs, followed by an elaborate fireworks display.
Muskego is home to numerous small festivals. The first Friday in June, don’t miss the Jammin’ on Janesville Street Festival. National Night Out is celebrated in early August in Veteran’s Park. In late August, Muskego Fest, is the largest free-admission festival in southeastern Wisconsin. There’s a Friday fish fry, Sunday parade and four days of non-stop musical entertainment, a midway and great food.
The Muskego Historical Society offers everything from genealogical information and preserved buildings to a One Stop Holiday Shoppe Arts & Crafts Fair. Historical Days is a two-day event during which historical furnished buildings are open for display and vendors in period clothing sell old-fashioned items and treats.
Muskego High School Performing Arts Center is the site of many concerts and performances for district families and community members.
In winter, enjoy old-time outdoor ice skating at Manchester Hill Park and miles of groomed trails for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.
Schools, Health, Transportation
The Muskego-Norway School District comprises three elementary schools, two middle schools and Muskego High School. The district is dedicated to high achievement for its 4,800 students, with a focus on continuous improvement, strategic allocation of resources, student achievement and being a destination workplace that attracts and retains exceptional staff.
The district consistently receives “significantly exceeds expectations” scores on the Wisconsin district report card and has received the Forward Award for performance excellence more than once.
Muskego residents can get high-quality medical care at ProHealth Care Medical Center-Muskego, Muskego Health Care Center and Aurora Health Center. The City is just minutes from Waukesha Memorial Hospital and other area medical centers.
Muskego is 20 miles west of downtown Milwaukee, and served by Highways 43, 45 and 36, which offer easy access to the I-94 corridor. It’s a short drive to Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport or Waukesha’s Crites Field, for private aviation. There is no public transit, but transportation for the elderly and disabled is provided by the Waukesha County Department of Aging.