Tuesday, October 6, 2015

6 Walkable Downtowns in the Chicago Suburbs

historic downtown
Walking in downtown Geneva.

Something about fall's warm hues really beckons me to explore downtowns. There is nothing like a pleasant 50-60 degree day with the golden sun and a snuggly jacket to warm you as you weave in an out of interesting shops and perhaps pick up a tea, coffee or hot chocolate. Some downtown areas in the Chicago suburbs are more walkable than others. Here are six that we have found to be enjoyable to explore on a pleasant afternoon:

  • St. Charles: St. Charles has long been one of our favorite downtown areas to explore. I always love how the town's festivals are threaded among streets lined with storefronts. You really get to explore the town effortlessly while enjoying the festival. Antique stores, unique gift shops, art galleries and restaurants will make for a complete day. The Breadsmith with its fresh baked items is not be missed! The town is situated on the lovely Fox River, so be sure to take a walk along the river during your visit. This weekend happens to be Scarecrow Fest which is a particularly fun time to visit the town. If you visit October 9-11 you will be sure to see the town decorated with scarecrows of all shapes and sizes crafted by local businesses and organizations.
  • Geneva: Geneva neighbors St. Charles. The town is also nestled along the Fox River affording picturesque views. Geneva also has plenty of unique stores to explore and restaurants to sample. Located in town is the Galena Garlic Company which has an amazing range of spice, rubs and blends. There is also a store with Scandinavian goods which is quite unique.
  • Elmhurst: Elmhurst's City Centre has quite a mix of venues welcoming families. Shops, museums, the historic York Theatre and restaurants can make for a nice, well-rounded visit. Plus, there is a Kilwin's--sweet tooth anyone? Elmhurst is hosting Bootiful Saturday October 24 9AM-1PM with a free showing of Casper, trick-or-treating, free pumpkin patch and more. Sounds like the perfect time to check out the downtown!
Pedestrian bridge
Naperville Riverwalk
  • Naperville: Along with its many shops and restaurants, Naperville has a picturesque Riverwalk with a covered pedestrian bridge, the majestic Millennium Carillon and works of art throughout the town that can be enjoyed along the Century Walk. There are so many great stores and restaurants in Naperville. We especially enjoy Anderson's Bookshop which is one of the largest local bookshops around and Le Chocolat du Bouchard which simply is chocolate heaven in the vein of a Parisian chocolaterie. Making a trip soon? Naperville will be holding its Halloween Happenings Festival October 25 at the Riverwalk's Grand Pavilion!
  • Long Grove: Long Grove is one of the more adorable towns to walk around with historic buildings at every turn. In the past few years, it seemed like the number of stores greatly decreased. Recently, this tide has seemed to have turned and it is nice to see new businesses repopulate the town. Long Grove has always had a unique collection of stores including purveyors of Irish goods and Scandinavian goods, art galleries, an olive oil shop, candy shops, wineries and more. Of course, no trip is complete without a stop at the Long Grove Confectionery! Also, take a stroll over to Mill Pond where you can feed the ducks!
musical instrument display
Cool musical instrument display in Crystal Lake.
  • Crystal Lake:  Crystal Lake is one of my new loves. The downtown area is easily walkable and has its own cache of unique stores to peruse including my favorite Enlightened Balance which houses crystals, tea, local art and more. Le Petit Marche is also worth a visit with fresh baked goods, cheese plates and wine and more culinary finds. Plus, indulge your sweet tooth at Mellie's Chocolate and Company with all sorts of sugar temptations and adorable decor or stop into Kaleidoscoops for a cone or other frozen concoction.
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