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Family excursions are known for their congruent levels of excitement, fun, exasperation and stress. Whether you're heading down to Grandma's house for a holiday meal or moving across country for a "better life," the combination of unconditional love, candid behavior and a confined space, can make for a truly memorable (oftentimes painstakingly unforgettable) time.
Now, there's no historical evidence to indicate Naperville's founders -- the Naper family -- endured such an experience when venturing west in search of land in 1831, but we like to imagine the underlying tendencies of human nature haven't changed that much since the 1800s. So, with two brothers, their wives, their sister and their mother holed up in the family schooner for two months, the Naper clan made the quintessential family trip, without which Naperville would not exist today.
Really, Naperville's beginnings are much like that of any other early 19th century settlement in the Midwest -- a small group of pioneers arrive on the scene after a long, perilous journey from the east; they cultivate the land and build homes; survive a few skirmishes with Native American tribes; and establish what would later become one of the area's most desirable Chicago suburbs -- pretty standard, right? Of course, when Joseph Naper and his band of colonists (a.k.a. relatives) spent the summer of 1831 navigating their way through the Great Lakes and inland water systems to finally plant roots some 30 miles from the shore of Lake Michigan, you can bet they had no idea their rustic homestead would later sprout paved residential subdivisions and lush grass lawns for Chicagoland's 21st century homeowners.
After dropping off some fellow travelers in the near Chicago vicinity, Naper and the fam continued their journey. Finally, having had enough of each other's company (we're taking a little creative liberty here) Joe pulled the ship over and told everyone to get out. There on the banks of the DuPage River, the Napers happily de-boarded, vowing never to take another "fun-filled" family expedition again. So that is where they stayed and Naper's Settlement was born.
Within a year the young community had grown to over 100 residents. But word that an attack by the Sauk Indian tribe was in the works forced the entire settlement to relocate to the protective arms of Fort Dearborn. The move was short lived, however, as a subsequent stronghold was constructed at the abandoned site by Captain Morgan Payne in preparation of the ambush. The new fortification, aptly named Fort Payne, allowed everyone to return to Naper's Settlement and continue life in their newfound homeland. Thankfully, the impending assault on the camp never happened and the small development continued to evolve.
The area's first tavern and inn (which was also the only one west of Chicago city limits at the time) was erected in 1834. The people called it the Pre-Emption House in reference to the government act that permitted purchase of western land tracts for a mere $1.25 per acre. The building later served as the county courthouse and it is said that even President Abraham Lincoln delivered a spur-of-the-moment speech from its rooftop. To this day, visitors come to the Pre-Emption House for a glimpse into Naperville's history.
In 1857, at the time of its incorporation as a village, Naperville, Illinois was home to around 2,000 inhabitants and was a thriving milling town with half a dozen churches, numerous storefronts, an educational academy, a couple hotels and two breweries. No more sitting around at the kitchen table playing cards with the family on Saturday nights -- this tiny town shaped up to be something the Napers could really be proud of! By the mid 1860s, there was even a convenient train route that connected the outlying community to downtown Chicago. Still, the budding village remained a principally rural area compared to the bustling metropolis to the east, even when it officially became a city in 1890.
It wasn't until the latter half of the 20th century that Naperville saw a boom in population. It followed the completion of two major highways in the 1980s and ‘90s -- I-88 (the Ronald Reagan Memorial Tollway) and I-355 (the North-South Tollway) -- which provided folks with quick and convenient access to Chicago's southwest suburbs. Naperville's populace practically quadrupled as many growing families traded cramped urban condominiums for spacious homes with private yards. The newly constructed expressways made commuting a viable option, not to mention the city's ever-expanding influence has spurred employment opportunities and real estate development throughout Chicago suburbs, prompting irreversible interest in Naperville's prime residential setting.
Part of the draw of Chicago suburbs is their significant use of natural landscape and recreation space. Without the population density and building congestion of the big city environment, Naperville, Illinois is able to spare some extra room for residents to enjoy ample outdoor area and precious flora and fauna in more than 130 different locations throughout the community.
The Naperville Park District manages upwards of 2,500 acres in public parkland that incorporates open space, playlots, sports complexes, walking trails, preservation areas and pedestrian-safe greenways between parks. For the most part, Naperville public grounds are divided into neighborhood and community parks, protected wetlands, and athletic/recreation centers.
The 70 neighborhood parks are scattered about Naperville's residential areas, offering local families a place to play with the kids within walking distance of home. Usually bustling with tiny tots and a squad of stroller-toting parents and caregivers, these decent-size playground retreats are all we need for a mini-daytime excursion. Little Napervillites can't get enough of the swings, slides and jungle-gyms, while the adolescent and young adult set dribble basketballs from their front doors to shoots hoops at the single backstops situated in selected neighborhood parks. Other locations house football and soccer fields, picturesque ponds, sledding hills, and full basketball courts. In between bank shots and swing pushes, we've spotted many a newspaper-reader and sack lunch-eater enjoying their downtime in the fresh air and tranquil surroundings of Naperville's myriad neighborhood parks.
A step up in size and amenities from the neighborhood commons, the community parks bring sprawling open grounds, additional facilities and fun leisure activities to the city of Naperville. With 17 community parks comprising 570 acres, these larger public areas account for nearly one third of this Chicago suburb's designated recreation expanses. Each location differs in amusement options, handy amenities, and scenic backdrops, so depending on what you're in the mood for, these Naperville parks are sure to have just what you're looking for, from baseball diamonds to horseshoe stakes.
When we want to hit the bike trails, we like to oil up the gears and race around the half-mile path at DuPage River Park (808 Royce Rd, 630-848-5000). A few laps make for a nice, invigorating ride. There are about 100 parking spaces available on the grounds, so it's easy to load the bikes on the car rack and drive over from home. And, for anyone who has been trying to plan that monstrous family reunion -- the kind that includes Uncle Ned's third cousin on his stepmother's side -- DuPage River is a good venue to think about, not only for the parking availability, but because the picnic shelter and onsite restrooms provide a comfortable and protected party space for big groups.
The various athletic courts and fields that dot Naperville's community parks host both pick-up games and league play. But for the best in recreational activities, Naperville locals make visits to the area sports complexes and golf courses. Of the four athletic centers, the 123-acre Frontier Park (3380 Cedar Glade Dr, 630-848-5000) is the largest. It houses a one-mile bicycle trail, twelve soccer fields, six softball fields, a skateboard course, and a 500-car parking lot. At 62.5-acres, DuPage River Sports Complex (2807 S Washington St) boasts 100 parking spots, four lighted tennis courts, three soccer fields, two softball fields, an inline skating rink, and a partridge in a pear tree -- just making sure you're paying attention. The Nike Park Sports Complex (288 W Diehl Rd) is roughly a third the size of its DuPage River counterpart, but still provides residents with well-maintained fields and prime location. Tighten up those tennies, grab your racket and challenge someone to a match at Knoch Park (724 S West St), its eight lighted courts make it a favorite among tennis players.
Much of Naperville's charm is magnified by the harmonizing existence of water throughout the cityscape. The DuPage River snakes between the built-up streets, creating a sense of serenity in the flurry of everyday life. As part of the identity of this southwest Chicago suburb, the river has become a symbol of Naperville's pride and distinctive character.
Considered by many to be the "crown jewel" of Naperville, the Riverwalk is a treasured community highlight that reestablished the DuPage riverfront as an attractive and enjoyable setting for Naperville locals and out-of-town visitors alike. The Riverwalk was first dedicated in 1981 and has since been expanded to envelop the entirety of downtown and beyond. Following the winding curves of the water, the path is surrounded by the picturesque landscape of Naperville's verdant wooded areas and lush vegetation. In the summer, the abundant green leaves shade walkers from the sun's rays, while the fall bursts with color as each tree pops with red, orange and yellow hues. Even in winter, we are inspired to get out of the house for a stroll under the ice-covered branches along the whitewashed river banks.
Natural beauty is the Riverwalk's main draw, but the man-made contributions certainly enhance the overall appeal of this Naperville, Illinois focal point. Lamplight glows from shepherd's crook poles positioned along the trail and soothing fountains amplify the area's water theme. Covered bridges, park benches and stops at Naperville's historic sites instill an old-fashioned sense of times past and a continued appreciation of Naperville's deep-seated community ties -- ties that prompt year-round celebrations with art fairs, festivals, walk-a-thons and holiday events -- all part of the Riverwalk's widespread allure.
The Riverwalk is nice for water spectators, but when we have the urge to get in and splash around there's Centennial Beach (500 W Jackson Ave, 630-848-5090). This extensive aquatic playground provides Naperville residents with the ideal spot to beat the heat in the scorching summer months. With a long stretch of sandy beach, open swim areas of varying depths, a diving complex, and floating rafts, Centennial Beach gets pretty popular once the mercury starts to rise. The free parking, certified lifeguards and convenient refreshment stand guarantees everyone will have a fun and safe visit. Open between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Centennial Beach has become a favorite place for parents to bring their children after school lets out for summer (it's a great alternative to eight hours a day of video games or television watching). Plus, this is one pastime adults will enjoy just as much as the kids.
Naperville's historically rural nature and vast open countryside allowed the modern day Chicago suburb to accommodate a considerable number of golf courses within its borders, with new ones opening up every year. Folks drive from all around to play on the peaceful greens that have cropped up amidst the landscaped subdivisions and numerous park areas.
Adamant golfers will find plenty of challenging courses out this way, but weekend warriors like us sometimes prefer less taxing alternatives that suit the general public. Springbrook Golf Course (2220 W 83rd St, 630-848-5060) certainly has some difficult holes but the intimate layout, which is contained in a one-half-mile by one-half-mile square, isn't quite as intimidating as some of Naperville's more expansive golf courses. Despite its limited space, Springbrook has a few holes stretching 500+ yards and the grounds are peppered with water and sand traps. On days when we're not feeling quite up to par (pun intended) we spend a hour or so warming up at the 25-station driving range or 30,000-square-foot hitting area before tee time. Next door to Springbrook (which is a public course), is the private White Eagle Golf Club (3400 Club Dr, 630-983-0012). This premier 27-hole course is touted as an Arnold Palmer Signature Golf Course and is one of the more challenging in Chicagoland. In addition to offering first-rate greens, White Eagle has hard-to-find clay tennis courts, exercise facilities, an outdoor swimming pool and bathhouse, spacious locker rooms, dining and banquet areas, and even a ballroom for special events. Access to this scenic Naperville golf club, reminiscent of the English countryside, doesn't come cheap -- but from what we've heard, the membership fees are worth every penny.
We're not the only ones who think Naperville, Illinois is an amazing spot to settle down. The city has been labeled time and again as one of the "best places to live in the U.S." by Money Magazine. Unbeatable beauty, high-ranking public and private schools, positive job growth, low crime, rising home appreciation, thriving entertainment and leisure industry (including several world-class golf courses) and close proximity to Chicago have earned this suburban community top desirability.
While downtown Naperville is a vital and active destination on the weekends as folks from surrounding suburbs come for the exceptional shopping, dining and outdoor amusement, the rest of the city's neighborhood streets remain quiet and peaceful homesteads -- never compromised by the outside interest in Naperville's sights and attractions. The curving residential blocks are set back in subdivisions, protected from busier main roads and the traffic of Naperville's popular business district. Bordered by immaculately maintained lawns, towering trees and healthy hedges, most Naperville homes sit on sizeable lots with attached garages and mature vegetation. Fanned around cul-de-sacs and winding, sidewalk-lined lanes, Naperville properties offer homeowners prime outdoor space with the privacy of individual yards and that comforting unity of close-knit neighbors.
For the most part, homebuyers find Naperville real estate is concentrated around single-family detached homes. The majority of these houses are good-sized, four-bedroom properties that start in the high $200,000s for an older split-level or ranch; while newer two-story "McMansions" can easily cost over a million dollars. These days, the average sale price for a two bedroom house in Naperville is about $295,000 with an average market time of 66 days. Three-bedroom properties sell for around $334,000 on average, although there are some that go for between $700,000 and a million dollars. The average sale price for a four- or five-bedroom place in Naperville is approximately $530,000, with countless listings in the million-dollar to 4 million dollar range -- mostly for recently constructed, luxury homes.
Naperville condominiums and townhouses are available, although the supply is more limited than single-family properties. The price range for one bedroom places starts at $100,000 and two-bedrooms begin around $120,000. A few condos are listed for over a million dollars and there are several half-duplexes in the $700,000 range. Townhouses go for anything between $175,000 -- for a nice two-bedroom, two-bath with one-car garage -- and $800,000 for a large four-bedroom place with two-car garage and sprawling back yard.
Naperville Residential Real Estate Info for Single-Family Detached Homes
|Average Sale Price 2005-2006||Average # of Days on the Market||Number of Sales 2005-2006||One Year Price Change||Price Change Since 94|
Source: Multiple Listings Service of Northern Illinois
Naperville's multiethnic dining culture matches that of any major city. Inspired by the best restaurants in Chicago, independent entrepreneurs, and international fare from around the globe, this southwest side suburb has become a hotspot for neighborhood foodies as well as weekend diners from nearby areas.
If there is one food that typifies Chicago's culinary culture it's pizza. The city's love of the pie has overflowed into the suburbs prompting local Chicago chains to extend their branches to the streets of Naperville. Well-known, stuffed crust favorites such as Giordano's (119 S Main St, 630-428-211) and Lou Malnati's (131 W Jefferson Ave, 630-717-0770) anchor the pizza biz in downtown Naperville, but for a little local flavor we suggest getting a slice at Braconi's Restaurant & Pizzeria (796 Royal St George, 630-717-9530). Said by many to have the best pizza in town, this Naperville joint serves up the thick stuff with homemade dough, fresh tomato sauce, and the finest ingredients and toppings. You can even get whole wheat crust (who says pizza isn't healthy?), but for that authentic Chicago stuffed pizza taste, you've got to go with the regular, buttery double-dough. Trust us, after one bite you'll forget all about those extra calories. Although we can never bring ourselves to stray from their incredible pizza options, Braconi's menu offers all the classic pastas and traditional Italian entrées, too. The prices are reasonable (although with additional toppings the stuffed pizzas can get kind of expensive -- but keep in mind one medium pie can feed a family of four).
While on the topic of Italian food, we might as well jump right into Naperville, Illinois' hit Italian-inspired restaurants, which is a mix of longtime staples and relative newbies. Buonaro's Café (300 E 5th Ave, 630-717-0006) is a family-owned eatery that has been around for years. This place has won numerous awards and prides itself on community involvement. A casual atmosphere of red-and-white checked tablecloths and black-and-white framed photographs surrounds guests (many of whom are regulars), instilling a friendly vibe that welcomes both everyday diners and first-time visitors. Besides a warm and cozy setting, Buonaro's dishes out some of Naperville's best seafood entrées and baked spaghetti plates. Their fish is exquisitely prepared and Chicken Marley, the house specialty, is a favorite among the clientele. The restaurant features a full bar, plus there are banquet and private party rooms available for up to 50 people. Or, if you're throwing an event somewhere else, but still want to feast on Buonaro's delicious dishes, they can cater the affair and bring the good stuff to you.
When you're not going for the family-style dinner but are looking for a more intimate backdrop, Naperville has plenty of fine dining Italian restaurants that make for superb special occasion meals or romantic date-night options. La Sorella di Francesca (19 W Jefferson Ave, 630-961-2706) is part of the ever-expanding dynasty of Chicago's Mia Francesca. Naperville's branch is an elegantly simple yet classy trattoria located in the former City Hall building. Large, arching front windows bring natural light into the downstairs dining area and the second floor houses a space for private parties of up to 100 guests. Upholding a fairly limited, but masterfully executed menu, this Francesca's location is where we go for remarkable salmon and the fluffiest gnocchi we ever tasted. Complement your meal with a selection from their sizeable list of imports from wine country. Another upscale yet comfy restaurant that made its way to the suburbs after a start in Chicago is Rosebud of Naperville (48 W Chicago Ave, 630-548-9800). Decorated in warm hues, exposed brick walls and homey accents, this inviting riverside restaurant is reminiscent of a quaint home in northern Italy where you might expect grandma to be in the kitchen preparing each dish with recipes from generations past. Seafood is big at Rosebud, noted by the signature appetizers of fried calamari and baked clams with garlic butter and herb breading, and the fish salad (shrimp, octopus, calamari and scungilli in olive oil, lemon and garlic). Entrées include a long list of pastas, plus steak, chicken, veal and other seafood dishes. The worst part about eating here is deciding what to get!
The scope of Naperville's international cuisine spans far wider than pizza and pastas. If you're in the mood for Asian fare, this city has your choice of Chinese takeouts, sushi bars, hibachi-style grills and stir-fry places. Shogun Japanese Restaurant (596 Route 59, 630-416-0871) and KiKu Japanese Steakhouse (2764 Aurora Ave, 630-305-3355) meld the arts of cooking and performance with an awe-inspiring demonstration of master culinary skills and entertaining showmanship. Both Shogun's and KiKu's chefs cook your meal right at your table with flamboyant flair (and by that we mean there are flames involved). These Naperville dining spots that are red hot – so if you plan on going, make a reservation first. Depending on your preference (Hunan, Szechwan, Mandarin, Mongolia, etc.) this southwest Chicago suburb has just the Chinese eatery to satisfy your appetite, but we're partial to the sesame crispy chicken at Jin Mandarin Restaurant (790 Royal St George Dr, Ste 115, 630-416-1188). You can't beat the great service, tasty food (excellent buffet) and cheap prices.
For a fiesta of flavor, Naperville, Illinois residents head downtown to Front Street Cantina (15 W Jefferson Ave, 630-369-5218), where the margaritas flow like water and the aroma of sizzling fajitas fills the air. Tiled floors and wooden booths give Front Street an authentic feel, accentuated by the gracious waitstaff and the unbeatable Tex-Mex cuisine: quesadillas, burritos, tacos and don't forget those yummy margaritas! Many Napervillites come to Front Street for the drinks as opposed to the food. In addition to the dining room, there's a separate cantina section that has one of biggest beer selections in the city. Staying open until 2 am every night except Sunday, this bar is a major part of Naperville's nightlife. For those really late-night burrito cravings, we go to El Centro(1015 E Ogden, 630-355-8888), open until 4 am Friday and Saturday. This small Mexican food eatery is your typical carryout joint with a few tables for anyone who wants to dine-in. Excellent for those with limited time or limited funds, El Centro has a menu full of tacos, tortas, enchiladas and burritos for under $5 and even the dinners (which come with rice and refried beans) are all less than $7.
Burritos at 4 am are fine when you're with a crew of friends, but if you're looking to impress a date or spend a romantic evening with your spouse, Naperville has several higher-end restaurants that may be a bit more suitable. Take, for example, the swanky digs of Sullivan's Steakhouse (244 S Main St, 630-305-0230), where live jazz music and a 1940s décor bring the sophistication of yesteryear back to Naperville. A bar stocked with top-self liquors provides the perfect cocktails to sip while enjoying the tunes and ordering your 24 oz Porterhouse steak, 4 lb broiled Maine lobster, or any other combination of exceptional surf and turf. The menu items at Sullivan's are on the pricey side, but the ritzy ambiance and live jazz performances seven nights a week all but make up for the additional expense. However, anytime we have the urge to drop some serious cash on a fabulous dinner, you're more likely to find us at Catch 35 (35 S Washington, 630-717-3500). Know for their phenomenal fresh-caught seafood and outstanding wine selection, this is our number one pick for upmarket Naperville cuisine. To start, have a sampling of half shell oysters imported from different New England harvest sites -- and, if you're not one for the slimy texture, try the baked version with spinach, asiago cheese and pancetta. For the adventurous, we recommend ordering the grilled Block Island swordfish coated with a black pepper-corn crust and served with cognac avocado salsa. Of course, Catch 35 offers guests all the usual lobster tail delicacies, king crab legs and Atlantic salmon -- made with their own spin on the standard preparations.
Naperville's downtown area and surrounding strip malls support a thriving shopping district with a good assortment of clothing stores, shoe shops, furniture galleries, independent boutiques and national retail chains. Whether you have a couple quick errands to run or feel like a leisurely perusal of the town's storefronts, Naperville offers shoppers a convenient center for all your needs.
When your closet is starting to look a bit outdated, or you want something new for that upcoming dinner party, the apparel shops in Naperville, Illinois are full of trendy new lines, quality footwear options and original accessory items. Sometimes we find it's best to pick the shoes and then get an outfit to go with them ... if that's the way you like to roll, there's only one place to start -- Lori's (27 W Jefferson, 630-416-3663). Stocked with ultra-hip styles from Europe and the U.S., Lori's collection of heels, flats, sandals, boots, slip-ons and sneakers is just about the greatest assemblage of women's footwear we've ever seen. That may seem like an exaggeration, but this Chicago-based chain really does an amazing job of choosing unique yet tasteful fashions that are all wardrobe must-haves -- unfortunately, that makes it kind of hard to pick out just one pair to take home. Much of the merchandise is in the over-a-hundred-dollar range, but the sale racks provide a nice break from the regular prices.
If you've got your little ones with you while downtown, a visit to Gotskind's Children's Shoes (115 W Jefferson Ave, 630-355-1811) will get them suited up for the new season with durable brands specially made for small feet like Ecco, Aster, and Umi, formed to provide extra balance and stability for tots just learning to walk. The store also has a clothing section so you can complete your child's look with the whole ensemble.
For a wider variety of clothes that fit the toddler to tween set, Napervillites can stop by Gap Kids (223 S Main St, 630-961-2846). The showroom of mini-sized apparel and accessories will dress your children in classic styles with a fun, youthful twist. If you're shopping for an even younger crowd (the type that doesn't walk, talk or have opinions yet), From My Room (1283 S Naper Blvd, 630-355-8442) is a resale store geared toward buying and selling baby clothes, toys and accessories. Any parent knows how quickly an infant grows out of one size and into the next. It never quite makes sense to spend a lot on something Junior is only going to wear for a few weeks ... However, it's exactly why the concept behind From My Room makes perfect sense. This consignment shop is a center for Naperville families to get gently-used items for cheaper than retail price and provides a place to regain a few bucks for outgrown baby gear that was hardly worn. Brilliant, if you ask us.
At this point, gentlemen are probably wondering where they're supposed to get a good pair of shoes in this town ... don't fret, Jos. A. Bank (55 S Main St, 630-428-2310) is a nationwide menswear company established over a hundred years ago that makes quality suits, casual attire, dress shirts, long coats, jackets, formal wear, belts, socks and shoes -- and they happen to have a location in the heart of downtown Naperville. Providing traditional fashions for the business man, Jos. A. Bank offers long-lasting clothing for affordable prices.
Sometimes the old standbys are the best spots to get those basic wardrobe staples for the whole family. We're likely to make at least one shopping trip each season for essential items like khaki pants, button-down shirts, print dresses, ribbed tank tops and t-shirts, so we're glad there's an Old Navy (220 S State Route 59, 630-717-5909) right in Naperville. Also handy to have nearby is Marshalls (204 S Route 59, 630-637-9905), an all-in-one store that offers discounted prices on designer fashions, shoes, housewares and home décor.
Of course, if our main objective is to deck out the house, we head back downtown to Naperville's small cluster of interior design and furniture stores. Calico Corners (103 S Washington St, 630-428-0791) offers an endless selection of furnishings, window treatments, upholstery fabrics, bedding and accent pillows, while Beidelmen Furniture (239 S Washington St, 630-355-5770) specializes in upscale pieces from various genres. Li'l Deb-N-Heir (540 E Ogden Ave, 630-717-8100) sells furniture for little tykes and has been around since 1947. From the cradle to children's trundles to cool styles for teens, this Naperville institution is your best bet for great quality and affordable prices.
Not surprisingly, downtown Naperville is where most residents gravitate for an enjoyable evening out and weekend fun. The area's concentration of happening bars and charming pubs also attracts folks from nearby suburbs, making Naperville nightlife the best around!
If you prefer to start the night off with an upbeat tempo, Quigley's Irish Pub (43 E Jefferson St, 630-428-4774) often has live music Thursday through Saturday to get things going, while the selection of beers on tap keeps the party rockin' until last call. Guinness heads up Quigley's list of nearly 20 different draft brews that periodically rotate with the seasons and, if you're hungry, the food menu is a step up from most bars with baked brie and smoked salmon appetizers, pear and bleu cheese salads, and all the classic Irish dishes -- corned beef and cabbage, shepherd's pie, and Guinness barbeque ribs. The dark wood interior booths and outdoor patio section give patrons enough room to roam about, but this place is such a hit, you should expect it to fill up quickly, especially on nights when the bands play crowd-pleasing cover songs. After a couple beers, just try to resist singing along!
Chicago Avenue has its share of nightlife with a row of popular downtown hangouts offering Naperville locals their choice of entertaining settings to get a drink, spend time with friends and get their groove on. Whenever we get the urge to hit the dance floor, we join the ranks of skilled steppers at Frankie's Blue Room (16 W Chicago Ave, 630-416-4898). The ultimate spot in Naperville for shaking your thang, Frankie's is known for having the most diverse range of danceable music, which includes blues, jazz, Latin, swing, salsa, rock and pop. There are live bands on Wednesday nights, but every evening is just as fun with thongs of hip-shakers and foot-stompers packing the center dance area ‘til the early hours of the morning. And here's a tip: you can go early on Wednesday or Thursday to catch an hour-long dance lesson before showing off your moves in public. In between sets, Frankie's clientele saunter up to the full bar for refreshments. Food is also available, although finding a place to sit down to eat may pose a problem. For the most part, the folks at Frankie's stick to the beat and find a spot to boogie down.
In the same building as Frankie's (which occupies the second floor), Club Mamalu (10 W Chicago Ave, 630-416-3310) draws the crowds with live DJs spinning the tunes on Fridays and Saturdays. If you're a fan of ‘70s and ‘80s hits, you'll love this place! The actual space is rather long and narrow, but there's plenty of room for a bar and booths on either side. And, in case you want a change of scenery, Club Mamalu is connected to another Naperville hotspot -- Features Bar and Grill (10 W Chicago Ave, 630-416-3310). Although it's also blessed with the occasional live performance and centrally located dance floor, this downtown haunt caters to the sportier set. The back lounge houses plush armchairs, pool tables, and lots of TV screens for watching the game. The triad of fun formed by Features, Club Mamalu and Frankie's is quite a force to be reckoned with. As long as you don't mind the crush of all-night partiers, you're sure to have a blast.
Not every weekend lends itself to all-out clubbing, though. Sometimes we prefer the lower-key atmosphere of an established bar where finding a seat isn't completely impossible and you can savor a beer at your leisure. Throw in free popcorn and the tastiest chili around and you've got The Lantern (8 W Chicago Ave, 630-355-7099), one of Naperville's oldest taverns. First opened in 1966, for decades The Lantern has served long-time regulars, college students who come and go, and area residents visiting from surrounding Chicago suburbs. A decent bottled beer selection and assortment of drafts keeps this bar high on our list of favorites while others like the friendly environment, 10-cent wings during Monday Night Football, karaoke nights, and terrific drink specials. Another Naperville watering hole with a laid-back vibe is Peanuts Bar and Grill (22 W Chicago Ave, 630-369-5200). Come in, sit down and start shelling peanuts -- the perfect accompaniment to any pint of beer. If you want something a little more substantial, the kitchen at Peanuts whips up some tasty appetizers and sandwiches, too.
As much as we like the feel of a neighborhood bar, there are times when it's nice to take it up a level... and in Naperville that means urban décor, circular suede booths, overstuffed couches, darkened mood lighting, and an outstanding martini menu -- otherwise known as Rizzos (6 W Jefferson Ave, 630-305-4396). For upscale wining and dining, Naperville's ultra-hip crowd always ends up at Rizzos where the cocktails are top-shelf and the cuisine is top-notch. Two separate floors allow for a spacious, yet intimate backdrop to enjoy specialty drinks, live musical groups and sporadic ladies spa nights. Rizzos isn't the only swanky martini lounge on the block, though. Two-Nine (29 W Jefferson Ave, 630-961-2929) also offers Napervillites the opportunity to relax in style and sip on fancy beverages with names straight off a dessert list. Take your pick of caramel apple, key lime, oatmeal cookie or banana split martinis, then find a chair at one of the round high-top tables or head out to the patio (weather permitting).
Two-Nine's modern setting is located directly above another downtown Naperville bar and restaurant that has been around for a quarter of a century. Potters Place (29 W Jefferson St, 630-355-9165) is really more of a Mexican cantina, serving up a dozen types of tequila, excellent margaritas, spirited live bands, and all the usual suspects of Tex-Mex menu items. Come for the food, but stay for the nightlife because this Naperville, Illinois mainstay is open until 2 am on weekends. And this is one place where everyone is sure to have a good time!
By now you know downtown Naperville is the center of the city's thriving entertainment district when it comes to bar-hopping, clubbing and catching a live band. However, in the midst of the lineup of drinking venues, there is one place that offers a completely different type of diversion -- one of culture and artistry -- we're talking about Crossroads Theater (22 E Chicago Ave, 630-428-4730), the city's first professional stage production house. Only open since 2002, Crossroads is fairly new to this Chicago suburb, but has proved an appreciated addition to Naperville's downtown culture. The building's main auditorium seats 130, while a second, smaller stage holds 65 visitors at a time. The ideal spot to see a performance because no seat is too far from the action, Crossroads has hosted critically acclaimed plays such as Late Nite Catechism and Forever Plaid, in addition to productions by local children's troupes.
If we venture a little further from Naperville's main drag, we'll come across the city's community theater, which has been in operation since the mid 1960s. Offering Naperville residents high-quality shows of time-honored classics, Summer Place (440 Aurora Ave, 630-355-7969) serves as both a site for enrichment and entertainment, and as an outlet for community members to use their artistic talents. Naperville supports aspiring actors of every age. Kidz Kabaret (1165 Quincy Ave, Ste 143, 630-355-9212) encourages children to bring their skills to the stage and partake in workshops to improve their performances in a nurturing environment. No auditions are necessary to participate, so if your little one loves the spotlight, they are shoo-ins for a part in the next production. Kindergarteners through twelfth-graders are welcome.
There's nothing like seeing a live performance, but we're also big fans of the big Hollywood blockbusters. Fortunately, Naperville has several cinemas scattered about the city to accommodate all the movie-goers.
These days it seems like going to the movies can end up costing an arm and a leg once you've purchased the tickets, the popcorn, the candy, and drinks -- what ever happened to the Nickelodeon? Guess a nickel to see a show isn't really feasible anymore, but perhaps Naperville's Ogden 6 (1227 E Ogden Ave, 630-357-5050) is the next best thing. Admission to this old-school cinema is only $3 -- that leaves plenty of extra cash to stock up on all the Raisinets you can handle! At that price, why not go for back-to-back screenings -- it will still be cheaper than going to one show at those state-of-the-art multiplexes. Speaking of newfangled cineplexes, Nova 8 Cinemas (352 S State Route 59, 630-428-7671) offers movie watchers more comfort for a bit more money. Regular tickets are $6.50 for adults and matinees are only $4. But for the ultimate viewing pleasure we recommend making a trip to Showplace 16 (2815 Showplace Dr, 630-303-5922). But be ready to dish out $9.50 per ticket if you plan to catch a flick at this glamorous sixteen-screen multiplex.
Naperville, Illinois residents have a calendar-full of community events and annual celebrations to look forward to throughout the year, breaking up the daily routine and instilling an air of neighborly spirit. The summer months teem with street festivals and parades, while the wintertime is enveloped with holiday cheer and citywide sales.
Speaking of parades ... the whole town tends to come out for the two biggest: St. Patrick's Day Parade and Memorial Day Parade. The annual St. Patty's Day Parade kicks off at 10 am on the Saturday before Saint Patrick's Day at Naperville North High School, and continues down Mill Street, Jefferson Avenue and Main Street. The Memorial Day parade takes a similar course, but in reverse, starting out at Centennial Beach and ending at Central Park. A concert and ceremony is typically held at the Community Concert Center following the parade.
Homebuyers are generally drawn to Naperville, Illinois for the town's impressive housing market. But, the excellent Naperville school system is another major reason families choose settle here over other Chicago suburbs. With a student body of more than 4,000, Naperville Central High School (440 Aurora Ave, 630-420-6422) is one of the largest high schools in the Chicagoland area. An average class has less than 25 students, which is among the best in the state for a school that size. Here's a list of educational facilities in Naperville, Illinois.
- Arlene Welch Elementary School 2620 Leverenz Rd (630) 428-7200
- Beebe Elementary School 110 E 11th St (630) 420-6332
- Clifford Crone Middle School 4020 111th St (630) 428-5600
- Fry Elementary School 3204 Tallgrass Dr (630) 428-7400
- Jefferson Junior High School 1525 N Loomis St (630) 420-6363
- Lincoln Junior High School 1320 S Olympus Dr (630) 420-6370
- Madison Junior High School 1000 River Oak Dr (630) 420-6400
- Mill Street Elementary School 1300 N Mill St (630) 420-6353
- Naperville Central High School 440 Aurora Ave (630) 420-6422
- Naperville North High School 899 N Mill St (630) 420-6484
- Neuqua Valley High School 2360 95th St (630) 428-6000
- Oliver Julian Kendall Elementary School 2408 Meadow Lake Dr (630) 428-7100
- Patterson Elementary School 3731 Lawrence Dr (630) 428-6500
- Spring Brook Elementary School 2700 Seiler Dr (630) 428-6600
- V Blanche Graham Elementary School 2315 High Meadow Rd (630) 428-6900
- Bakers Square Restaurant & Pie 850 E Ogden Ave (630) 355-8382
- Buonaro's Café 300 E 5th Ave, 630-717-0006
- City Club 1163 E Ogden Ave (630) 305-0343
- Famous Dave's Bar-B-Que 1126 E Ogden Ave (630) 428-3508
- Grandma Sally's Restaurant 450 E Ogden Ave (630) 355-7771
- Heaven on Seven 224 S Main St (630) 420-0732
- Sullivan's Steakhouse 244 S main St (630) 305-0230
- Bankok Village 22 E Chicago Ave (630) 369-9756
- China Star Restaurant 1264 E Chicago Ave (630) 527-8378
- House of Emperor 1212 S Naper Blvd (630) 983-8284
- The Indian Harvest 1021 W Ogden Ave (630) 579-9500
- Jin Mandarin Restaurant 790 Royal St George Dr, Ste 115, (630) 416-1188
- KiKu Japanese Steakhouse 2764 Aurora Ave (630) 305-3355
- Sakura Japanese restaurant 1163 E Ogden Ave (630) 257-8415
- Shogun Japanese Restaurant 596 Route 59 (630) 416-0871
- Szechwan Garden restaurant 658 S Route 59 (630) 355-5883
- Tong's Garden Restaurant 1239 E Ogden Ave (630) 357-7120
- Raffi's on 5th 200 E 5th Ave (630) 961-8203
- Sal & Carvao Churrascaria - 801 E Algonquin Rd - (847) 925-0061
- Texas de Brazil - 5 Woodfield Mall - (847) 413-1600
- Biaggi's Restaurant Italiano 582 S Route 59 (630) 328-8500
- Braconi's Restaurant & Pizzeria 796 Royal Saint George Dr (630) 717-9530
- La Sorella Di Francesca 18 W Jefferson Ave (630) 961-2706
- Noodles & Co. 4 E Jefferson Ave (630) 369-3332
- Rosebud of Naperville 48 W Chicago Ave (630) 548-9800
Latin American Cuisine
- Samba Room 22 E Chicago Ave (630) 753-0985
- El Centro1015 E Ogden (630) 355-8888
- Street Cantina 15 W Jefferson Ave (630) 369-5218
- Pepe's Mexican Restaurant 1270 E Chicago Ave (630) 420-0732
- Chicago Pizza Authority 1645 N Baldwin Rd (847) 358-8811
- Graziano's Brick Oven Pizza 5960 W Touhy Ave (847) 647-4096
- Papa John's Pizza 859 N Quinten (847) 991-7272
- Tony's Pizza Peddler's Restaurant 1540 N Rand Rd (847) 991-7020
- Catch 35 S Washington St (630) 717-3500
- Hugo's Frog Bar 55S Main St (630) 548-3764
- Key Wester Fish & Pasta House 1975 Glacier Park (630) 778-8700
- Riva 2020 Calamos Ct (630) 718-1010
- Meson Sabika 1025 Aurora Ave (630) 983-3000
- Bar Louie 22 E Chicago Ave (630) 983-1600
- Edward Hospital 801 S Washington St (630) 527-6830
- Crossroads Theater 22 E Chicago Ave (630) 428-4730
- Kidz Kabaret 1165 Quincy Ave, Ste 143, (630) 355-9212
- Nova 8 Cinemas 352 S State Route 59 (630) 428-7671
- Ogden 6 Cinemas 1227 E Ogden Ave (630) 357-5050
- Showplace 16 2815 Showplace Dr (630) 303-5922
- Summer Place 440 Aurora Ave (630) 355-7969
- Memorial Day Parade 500 W Jackson Ave (630) 961-0908
- Saint Patrick's Day Parade 899 N Mill St
- Dominick's 1555 N Aurora Rd (630) 637-3835
- Balaji Grocery 1570 W Ogden Ave (630) 420-3100
- Casey's Foods 124 S Gartner Rd (630) 369-1686
- Jewel-Osco 1227 S Naper Blvd (630) 961-9050
- Trader Joe's 44 W Gartner Rd (630) 355-4389
- Bally Total Fitness 1531 N Aurora Rd (630) 357-4951
- Cardinal Fitness 5019 Ace Ln (630) 922-1000
- Planet Fitness 1163 E Ogden Ave (630) 416-7200
- Precision Fitness 1292 Rickert Dr (630) 717-0166
- Reality Fitness Inc 39 W Jefferson Ave (630) 357-7087
- Nichols Library 200 W Jefferson Ave (630) 961-4100
- DuPage River Park 808 Royce Rd (630) 848-5000
- Frontier Park 3380 Cedar Glade Dr (630) 848-5000
- Knoch Park 724 S West St (630) 848-5000
- Nike Park Sports Complex 288 W Diehl Rd (630) 848-5000
- CVS Pharmacy 633 North Rt 59 (630) 369-6103
- Healy Pharmacy 100 Spalding Dr (630) 357-2900
- Martin Avenue Pharmacy 1247 Rickert Dr (630) 355-6400
- Naperville Pharmacy 1020 E Ogden Ave (630) 355-0461
- Osco Drug 1755 W Ogden Ave (630) 637-1370
- Oswald's Pharmacy 88 W Gartner Rd (630) 355-2500
- Walgreens 612 Raymond Dr (630) 428-9171
- US Post Office 5 S Washington St (630) 717-2675
- 1750 W Ogden Ave (630) 717-2662
- Ann Taylor 132 S Main St (630) 357-1516
- Beidelmen Furniture 239 S Washington St, 630-355-5770
- Calico Corners 103 S Washington St, 630-428-0791
- Chico's 131 W Jefferson Ave (630) 579-4207
- Coldwater Creek 55 S main St (630) 357-8520
- Dean's Clothing 226 S main St (630) 355-3007
- Deborah Jean Apparel 232 S Washington St (630) 357-1336
- Eddie Bauer 203 S Main St (630) 961-3615
- Gotskind's Children's Shoes 115 W Jefferson Ave, 630-355-1811
- Gap Kids 223 S Main St, 630-961-2846
- From My Room 1283 S Naper Blvd, 630-355-8442
- Jos. A. Bank 55 S Main St, 630-428-2310
- Li'l Deb-N-Heir 540 E Ogden Ave, 630-717-8100
- Lori's 27 W Jefferson, 630-416-3663
- Marshalls 204 S Route 59, 630-637-9905
- Old Navy 220 S State Route 59, 630-717-5909
- Talbots 217 S main St (630) 357-3680