John Sibilski/Courtesy of the City of Fond du Lac

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Fond du Lac, Wisconsin

With a name that’s French for “bottom of the lake” and a location at the south end of Lake Winnebago, perhaps it’s not surprising that one of the biggest employers in Fond du Lac is a manufacturer of outboard motors. That would be Mercury Marine, which is headquartered here and also makes marine engines and snowmobiles.

It and other industrial and health care–related businesses help keep unemployment low here, and job growth steady, while housing and other costs remain modest.

With a 19th-century heritage tied to the area’s once-booming logging and milling industry, Fond du Lac is home to a picturesque downtown and historic lighthouse.

Visitors arrive for such annual festivals as the Fond du Lac County Fair, Walleye Weekend, and Fondue Fest, but residents can enjoy outdoor activities year-round at the area’s largest park, Lakeside Park, with over 400 acres of open space on the edge of Lake Winnebago. —Sergei Klebnikov

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