We love our neighborhoods!
Make It Better asked our readers what you love most about the place you live, and we received answers from Lincolnshire to Lake Forest; Evanston to Barrington. Here is what makes our towns and villages amazing places to live, make friends, raise children, enjoy nature and connect with culture and each other.
Evanston: Lakefront Trail
Run, bike or walk along the lake from Grosse Point Lighthouse to Clark Street. Stunning views of the city, long stretches of park and the lake to your east make this one of Chicagoland’s best green spaces.
Fort Sheridan: Openlands Lakeshore Preserve
One of the last ravine and bluff ecosystems in the region, this mile of shoreline and adjoining 77 acres were saved from development and opened to the public in 2011.
Glencoe: Chicago Botanic Garden
Space to breathe, room to walk—24 spectacular gardens on 385 acres. It’s a local treasure, and with its conservation research and studies, a national resource.
Lincolnshire: Spring Lake Park
The heart of Lincolnshire, and the site of the July 4th parade and fireworks every year.
Riverwoods: Edward L. Ryerson Conservation Area
Part of the Lake County Forest Preserves with pristine woodlands that can be explored through 6.5 miles of trails.
Art and Culture
Arlington Heights: Metropolis
Metropolis Performing Arts Centre is the community’s powerhouse entertainment resource with over 400 performances of 50 different productions.
Evanston: Evanston Arts Organizations
“Evanston has a huge number of arts organizations, from Next and Piven Theatres to the Evanston Dance Ensemble, from the art therapy-oriented Open Studio Project to Art Encounter and the Evanston Art Center.”
Glencoe: Writers’ Theatre
Started in the back room of a bookstore, Writers’ Theatre has offered more than 81 productions, including 14 world premieres since 1992.
Highland Park: Ravinia Festival
Open-air music enjoyed with friends on a summer evening—what could be better? This summer, we’re looking forward to diverse acts from Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers to Idina Menzel, from Train to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Libertyville: Liberty Town Productions
“Liberty Town Productions is our town’s growing not-for-profit community entertainment company that puts on 5-6 events a year.”
Vernon Hills: Cuneo Mansion and Gardens
Bequeathed to Loyola University, this 100-acre estate is home to community events like concert series in the summer and its popular drive-through lights exhibit at the holidays.
Wilmette: Wilmette Theatre
Yes, there are movies, but the real charm lies in children’s acting classes, screening discussion groups, cabaret, comedy and even burlesque. This little not-for-profit is the soul of downtown Wilmette.
Sense of Community and Friendliness
Designed to get kids outside and interacting with nature, the annual Kite Fly and Kids Fest also brings grown-ups together as families reconnect with their neighbors and friends at this community-wide event.
“We have a wonderful food-sharing program at OLPH Church with a fully running pantry for several other parishes that aren’t as well off. We accept daily donations of food and clothing to help others in need. This is just one example of Glenview spirit.”
“I’m consistently impressed by the “small-town” feel and I felt it the most last year during our annual Pumpkin Fest, when our mayor was out carving pumpkins and interacting with the community.”
“Our town has a woman’s club called the Village Club which welcomes all women in the town and has a variety of events during the year to please all ages—book club, movie club, bowling, tennis, cooking club, philanthropic events (organization we are supporting this year is the Myelin Repair Foundation), playgroups, running club and golf club to name most.”
“We love the July 4th parade, bike decorating contest, picnic, and concerts in the park. Our whole family remembers the day our dog won the “floppiest ears” in the doggie competition. The Family Fair is always a hit. The Farmer’s Market is one of the best around. Our restaurants are top notch and our boutique shops so inviting.”
“There is nothing I like more than seeing my neighbors helping other neighbors with their snow removal, or pushing out a car stuck in an alley. I love the warmth of the people who live and have grown up here. Many people who have grown up move back, and those who have grown up and moved away still are friends and neighbors and never really leave the block.”
“This weekend our neighborhood welcomed Elinor Miller home from a rehabilitation stay after a slight injury. We had 30 plus neighbors, kids and dogs plus balloons and decorations as she pulled up. The spirit of our Home Alone neighborhood (we actually call ourselves the Ladies on Lincoln) was AMAZING.” (For more on Elinor Miller, go to makeitbetter.net/elinor.)
Pedestrian and Bike Friendly
“Easy access to the bike path and many quiet streets on which to stroll.”
“One can ride a bike to almost anywhere in Northfield, as it is approximately 3.5 miles square! We have bike and walking paths in the Cook County Forest Preserve and Skokie Lagoons.”
Over 60 large-scale contemporary sculptures make this 2-mile long Northshore Sculpture Park a novel walk in an otherwise busy area.
“Wilmette has bike lanes, and connects to the Green Bay Trail. We also have Wilmette Police officers on bikes during the summer.”
Highland Park: Downtown
“The downtown where everyone can gather, eat, shop, walk around, hear music in the summer and enjoy being outside.”
Lake Forest: Gorton Community Center
From yoga to manners classes, Gorton Community Center offers classes for individuals and space for groups—a place that builds community.
Long Grove: Historic Village
Nestled in historic buildings, this collection of eclectic shops and restaurants is the town’s natural meeting place. A full calendar of festivals keeps the area hopping from spring to fall.
Celebrating its 100th anniversary, the Winnetka Community House is home to theater groups, a day care center, gym and fitness facilities, a nursery school, antique shows and classes from ceramics to taekwondo.
Deerfield: Jewett Park and Sachs Rec Center
“Sachs Recreation Center used to be a Multiplex where the Bulls used to practice—they still have the “Bulls Gym”—with the big Chicago Bull on the gym floor.”
Glenview: The Glen
“The Glen is the best for meeting people, kids’ activities, restaurants, shopping and managing daily life. We are close to major stores, but can get away from it all by taking a stroll/ride around Lake Glenview, golfing on our three nearby golf courses, heading to two amazing outdoor pools (plus a fantastic indoor pool).”
“We have a lovely small library with a sweet and helpful staff.”
Northbrook: North Suburban YMCA
Serving multiple communities with programs and facilities that are affordable and inclusive, this YMCA lives its mission to strengthen families in a welcoming environment.
Northfield: North Shore Senior Center
This center provides opportunities for life long learning and fitness as well as support for the challenges of aging through in-home care programs.
“We love going to plays at Northwestern, we also attend at least one Northwestern football game… It’s also so easy to go downtown by train and the El.”
Lake Forest College
This college welcomes the community with programs like Portraits 4 People, concerts and plays like “44 Plays for 44 Presidents.”
“I think that without making a big deal about it, the churches add to the vibrancy of our town. They have opportunities to nurture spirituality, volunteerism, and have social events that are open to the whole community. We are blessed.”