We’re kicking off a new series here at Go West, a series of “family guides” highlighting the special family-friendly features in a number of Chicago suburbs. My own family loves to check out new towns, so these posts are designed to help you pull together a daylong outing with your family. But they could also be helpful to anyone considering a move. As a result, they are being sponsored by realtor Beth Spindle, one of our valued sponsors here at Go West. Beth, a Geneva resident and mom to three girls, has worked with buyers and sellers all over the western and northwestern suburbs. If you’d like to learn more about Beth, you can check out her website or read about how she turned a banged-up foreclosure into a true gem.
The first entry in this new series is all about Elmhurst, and it’s written by my close friend Maria Balice Kresnicka. She moved to Elmhurst from an apartment we shared in Chicago about 15 years ago. She loved Elmhurst so much that when she and her husband needed a bigger home for their growing family, they just moved across the street! Read on to find Maria’s recommendations if your family would like to spend some time in Elmhurst. — Tara
Name and Location: Elmhurst, located in DuPage County, about 19 miles west of Chicago’s Loop.
A bit about its history: The first European settlers came to the area that is now Elmhurst around 1836. The community was officially named Cottage Hill in 1845. It was a stop on the on the stagecoach line between Chicago and the Fox River Valley. In 1849, the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad was granted a right-of-way through Cottage Hill, giving rail access to and from Chicago for farmers, their produce, and residents. The community changed its name to Elmhurst in 1869.
Geography: Back in the day, Elmhurst was covered with thick prairie and Salt Creek is a major natural landmark.
Is it on a Metra Line? Union Pacific West Line, which connects to Wheaton, Geneva and Elburn, among other towns.
Why do you love your town? I love Elmhurst because it’s the best of both worlds – I can choose to stay in town and do dinner and a movie, or it’s convenient enough to the city and other burbs to venture out.
Is there a great path for a family bike ride? The Illinois Prairie Path runs straight through the heart of Elmhurst.
Where would you recommend a family take a stroll? Elmhurst is a very walkable town. The downtown area on York Street has many shops, restaurants and a first-run movie theater. Many families enjoy hanging out in the town square and fountain at York and Schiller.
What is your favorite community event? Elmhurst has a fantastic Memorial Day Parade – have your kids bring a bag to collect candy – which serves as a great kick off to summer. Elmhurst also hosts what is considered the third largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in Illinois (after Chicago and the South Side Chicago). There are so many others, including Art in the Park, Elmhurst College Jazz Festival and others.
Where is your favorite park for a picnic? Salt Creek Park (574 W. Second St.) is a great area for a picnic – it has a covered area, just in case it rains and a playground steps away from the covered area.
Where is your favorite playground? Wilder Park (175 S. Prospect Ave.), which went through a massive renovation less than five years ago, is perfectly situated just blocks from the train station. It’s also the right near the Elmhurst Public Library and has a greenhouse that changes greenery with the seasons – a great spot for family photos.
What is your family’s favorite place for breakfast and why? Egg Harbor Café (140 N. Robert Palmer Drive) in downtown Elmhurst – best pancakes. And the service is wonderful.
What is your family’s favorite place for lunch and why? My kids would eat at Chipotle (139 N. York St.) every day, if I would let them.
What is your family’s favorite place for dinner and why? For a nice family dinner, we love Francesca’s Amici (174 N. York St.)
What is your family’s favorite place to get dessert? Our kids love to go to Brain Freeze (110 W. Park Ave.) for ice cream. We also just had a Kilwin’s (148 N. York St.) open – I’m addicted to the almond toffee.
Is there a shop, a museum or another spot that you consider a can’t-miss destination for visitors? The Elmhurst College campus is really quite beautiful – a nice open green space to walk around.
Is there anything else you’d like readers to know? Having Elmhurst College is really a great asset/resource. Not only do they have great events – they host lecture series with Pulitzer Prize winners, political and social activists – but it’s a great place to find college students willing to do some babysitting!