8 Walkable Downtowns in the Chicago Suburbs

Jan 2, 2023

Lace-up your shoes and get to know these ‘burbs — no car required.

One of the perks of urban living? You can walk — everywhere. But if that’s what’s holding you back from making a leap to suburbia, don’t worry. These eight Chicago suburbs are best known for their walkable downtowns. You can run errands, grab a bite to eat or head to a park all without starting your car. It’s the best compromise, and perfect for one-car households.

1) La Grange

This vibrant suburb has a really walkable downtown — we’re talking a walk score of 90 — with a great mix of eateries. You’ll find neighborhood gems that have been around for decades alongside newer spots with rooftop dining. Plus, there’s always something going on downtown. From the annual Pet Parade to craft fairs and holiday walks you’ll never run out of things to do.

Commuting to Chicago? Hop on the BNSF line and you’ll be at Union Station in about 25 minutes.

2) Park Ridge

Don’t be confused — Park Ridge’s “downtown” area is known to locals as Uptown. This walkable district has everything you need– a train station with service to Chicago, multiple grocery stores including Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods plus tons of unique restaurants and shops.

Uptown also offers some great entertainment options. There’s the Art Deco landmark-turned modern movie house, a farmers market and annual events like the Main Street Craft Beer Festival. Want to get out? While you can’t walk there from Uptown, the neighboring forest preserves are the perfect place to hike, kayak and just get away from it all.

3) Arlington Heights

Head to Downtown Arlington Heights for a car-free family night out. The suburb even created urban walking trails downtown to showcase just how pedestrian-friendly this area is.

You’ll find more than 30 restaurants downtown (our locals are partial to Passero and its amazing brick oven pizzas), plus live music venues and boutique fitness studios. Another reason we love this suburb? With easy access to Lake Arlington for outdoor activities, this town truly offers the best of both worlds.

4) Downers Grove

Downers Grove is a nice option for commuters- the BNSF line travels from downtown to Chicago’s Union Station in less than half an hour. Newer apartment buildings are clustered downtown and the area boasts a walkability score in the high 80s.

With plenty of nightlife options including Ballydoyle Irish Pub & Restaurant and Pierce Tavern to name a few, the newly-renovated Tivoli Theatre, and community events like outdoor yoga, it’s easy to enjoy the day without a car.

5) Mount Prospect

Although it’s a little further from Chicago, most locals don’t mind the trade-off. You can still take the train into the city and you get to live in a family-friendly community with a fun and active downtown.

So what do residents love most about Mount Prospect’s downtown? This walkable commercial district hosts a farmers market and is home to a library and some great local restaurants. There’s even an amazing ice cream shop that hosts concerts in the green space next door.

6) Plainfield

Plainfield is another suburb that’s a bit further from downtown Chicago but, for many, if well worth the added commute. With relatively affordable housing — think under $500,000 homes — A+ schools, and a local train to the city, this is one worth adding to your list.

Not to mention Plainfield has a unique, pedestrian-friendly downtown with more than a dozen restaurants. Dine alfresco at the upscale HopScotch & Vine or bring the kids for dinner at Giambotta Pizza Co. followed by a trip to the Village Green Park playground.

7) Naperville

Naperville is one of Chicago’s most sought-after suburbs. This award-winning town is frequently named one of the “best places to raise a family,” “coolest suburbs” and more.

What makes Naperville so popular? The walkable downtown is a huge factor. It boasts a walk score of 94 and you really don’t need a car to run errands or meet up with friends for dinner. You can even take a stroll along the scenic Riverwalk to escape the hustle and bustle without actually leaving downtown.

8) Wilmette

Wilmette might look suburban but it’s also home to six shopping districts where you can stroll, shop and eat without driving all over town.

We love meandering through the Village Center just to take in how ridiculously beautiful it is. This is the main central business district where you’ll find the train station, fitness center, specialty shops and great restaurants.

Start Planning your Walking Tour Today

Ready to find the suburb that checks all of your boxes? We’re here to help you find your perfect town in Chicagoland! Experience the feeling of your favorite Chicago neighborhood throughout any of our most walkable suburbs. Schedule your FREE Suburban Strategy session today to get started.

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