Choosing Your Neighborhood in Chicagoland: Western Suburbs
As the third largest city in the country, Chicago covers 234 square miles. But Chicagoland—the sprawling suburbs and towns surrounding the city—clocks in at 10,857 square miles. That’s a lot of space to cover, and if you’re unfamiliar with the area, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and turned around by the range and difference of suburbs.
Which is where we come in. We’re happy to help give a little guidance when talking about the neighborhoods and towns of Chicagoland so that you might find the best slice of land for you and your family.
First up, we’re talking about the Western suburbs, the towns and villages serviced by the BNSF Metra commuter train line and the Ogden Avenue corridor. While each town has its own charms and family-friendly features, this mini guide will highlight out which amenities stand out the most.
Looking for A BIG ATTRACTION: BROOKFIELD
Brookfield is a charming, cozy suburb with plenty of personality, but it is perhaps best known as the home of the Brookfield Zoo. Open year-round and showcasing over 450 species, including the first dolphin exhibit and indoor rainforest in the country, the Brookfield Zoo provides ample entertainment for all ages, be it Zoo Lights in the winter, summer concerts, or special exhibits.
Looking for ALL-AMERICAN ARCHITECTURE: LAGRANGE
While Oak Park gets most of the attention, famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright can be found all over Chicagoland, and there's a particularly heavy concentration of it in LaGrange, a town of about 15,000. Nestled among historic Victorian mansions and expansive farmhouse estates, the three Wright homes fit right in with the pedestrian-friendly and bustling downtown LaGrange.
Fun fact: Frank Lloyd Wright was fired by his employer Louis Sullivan for moonlighting on the LaGrange homes because his contract stipulated no outside contract work. Sullivan’s loss is LaGrange’s gain.
Looking for An HISTORIC DISTRICT: RIVERSIDE
Thanks to the nearby railroad, Riverside was one of the first areas near Chicago to develop as one of Chicagoland's first bedroom communities, where people could easily commute into the city while enjoying the suburban lifestyle. The town was designed by none other than Frederick Law Olmstead, renowned landscape architect of New York City’s Central Park and the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. These days, much of Riverside consists of the Riverside Landscape Architectural District, which was deemed a National Historic Landmark in 1970. Riverside’s labyrinthine streets, leafy streets, and antique gas street lanterns add to the Old World charm.
Looking for nearby SHOPPING: COUNTRYSIDE
Mostly rural farmland and open space until post-WWII, Countryside is a small city of about 5,800 people. Flanked by the Stevenson Expressway and busy La Grange Road, Countryside is a natural draw for retail commerce and businesses, including the landmark 548,000 sq. ft. Countryside Shopping Plaza.
Fun fact: The Marx Brothers (of Duck Soup and other vaudeville comedy acts) bought a chicken farm in Countryside in 1917.
looking to raise a FAMILY: WESTERN SPRINGS
Named as 5th best place to raise a family in Illinois in 2018, Western Springs has a lot of feathers in its cap: top-rated schools, low crime rates, vibrant dining and shopping scene, beautiful homes on tree-lined streets, and proximity to both downtown Chicago and ample forest preserve areas.
looking for new construction with A QUAINT DOWNTOWN: HINSDALE
Hinsdale is one of the most affluent suburbs in the Chicagoland area. In real estate circles, it's well-known for a ceaseless building cycle: companies are constantly moving in and building new houses, so everything's sleek and modern. The downtown, on the other hand, is charming as ever. Hinsdale is the unique town that seamlessly blends high-end design and charming personality.
Looking for local involvement: CLARENDON HILLS
Calling itself as the "volunteer community," Clarendon Hills is a great place to get to know your neighbors. With approximately 8,500 residents, Clarendon Hills knows how to celebrate, hosting some of the area's biggest attractions, such as the Dancin' in the Street Fair, the annual Daisy Dash race, and Christmas Walk.
looking for a BIG SUBURB: WESTMONT
In the 1970s, Westmont had a residential and commercial boom and never looked back. A prosperous town of about 25,000 residents, Westmont continues to growing and is one of the bigger suburbs in the region.
Fun Fact: "Godfather of the Blues" Muddy Waters lived in Westmont from 1973 until he passed on in 1983.
looking for the great outdoors: LISLE
Lisle likes nature—from sponsoring one of the oldest prairie restoration efforts in the country, to hosting events that celebrate the beauty of the surrounding area, including the Eyes to the Sky Hot Air Balloon Fest and Garden Gait Fest, to being home to the Morton Arboretum, a 1700-acre park that showcases countless trees and thousands of plant species, Lisle is a pastoral playground. But don't be fooled into thinking Lisle is all open spaces—an impressive number of businesses are relocating to Lisle, with plenty of opportunity for building and development.
So there it is, Western Chicagoland in a nutshell. No matter which community you choose to reside in, they all have their own distinct charm and flavor. And if you do decide to move, make sure to get some help and make it as easy as possible on yourself.