Naperville is a bedroom community in the Chicagoland area. In July 2008, CNN/Money and Money magazine ranked Naperville third on its list of the 100 best places to live in the United States; in 2007, the city was honored with second place.
The Metra BNSF line stops in Naperville, going between Aurora and Chicago.
Amtrak has a station in Naperville at 105 E. Fourth Avenue. It is served by the daily Southwest Chief between Chicago and Los Angeles, the daily California Zephyr line between Chicago and San Francisco, and the Illinois Service routes.
If you plan on bringing your rental car downtown, be prepared to park it in the large public parking structures, because finding a space in the downtown area can be tortuously slow work. There is often a spot in the three-story free parking garage by the Barnes and Noble near the corner of Washington and Chicago Avenue. The second and third floor are accessible via Jefferson Avenue, which is a block down Washington.
- In Downtown Naperville you'll find new high-end chain stores, specialty shops and restaurants inhabiting quaint old buildings which are still a reminder of when Naperville was a sleepy burg.
- The Riverwalk is a 3.5-mile brick path that runs along the shore of the DuPage river and was originally inspired by the more famous Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas. It passes the 160 foot Moser Tower Millennium Carillon. With 72 bronze-cast bells, the Millennium Carillon is one of only four grand carillons in the world.
- Public Art can be found throughout downtown and the Riverwalk. They include "River of Life," a four-part ceramic mural just off West Jefferson; "Man's Search For Knowledge Through The Ages," a bas-relief in front of Nichols Library; and "The Dandelion Fountain" near the Riverwalk, among others. To see more follow the "Century Walk" public arts walk.
- The Naper Settlement is a reconstruction of the town as it looked in the 1800s when it was founded by trader Joe Naper. It's much like the Joseph Smith Homestead in Nauvoo.
- Art Galleries abound in Naperville. Check out Art & Frame Naperville, the Naperville Art League, the Anamart Gallery, Hozhoni Native American Art, North Central College and the Naperville Cultural Center.
- SS. Peter and Paul Church, near the North Central College campus, is an enormous Catholic institution with a beautiful interior.
- The DuPage Children's Museum. This colorful building is full of activities to keep kids (and the kid in you) occupied: a giant Lite-Brite, bubble games, a building workshop, a wind tunnel and more.
- The Naperville Cultural Center. Now housed at North Central College, offers a variety of classes in languages (Japanese, Russian, Arabic, etc) and art (abstract painting, mosaics, manga drawing, etc), as well as art exhibits, multicultural events and international film showings. It's an overlooked gem right in the middle of the community.
- Centennial Beach is an old rock quarry transformed into a sandy beach along the Riverwalk. They also rent paddleboats.
- The Comedy Shrine in the Naperville Promenade is indeed funny and not too expensive.
- Ribfest is Naperville's biggest yearly event. The four-day festival takes place in Knoch Park and usually features 15-20 rib vendors from around the country as well as bands like REO Speedwagon and Heart.
- Naper Days, held annually at the Naper Settlement, is a much more manageable event with games, bands and the Taste of Naperville.
- Haunted Naperville Tours are a unique way to see the city. The stories are hit-or-miss, but the fact that they're all based on first-hand encounters makes Naperville at least a little bit creepier.
Stop by the bustling downtown area to do some serious power shopping. There's nothing that can't be found anywhere else other than foods indigenous to the area, such as Chicago pizza, Italian beef sandwiches, etc.
- Naper Nuts and Sweets, 10 W. Jefferson Ave. Come to this old-fashioned candy shop in the heart of downtown Naperville for thousands of candies, freshly made popcorn, and chocolates. Also visit the store to learn more about Operation: Caramel Popcorn, a project to ship popcorn to the military overseas.
- Stop by Lou Malnati's pizza in downtown Naperville. This Chicago pizza restaurant do their pies well (and have arguably the best crust in the state) and is housed in what until the 1980s was the city's firehouse. The fire pole still resides in a corner of the bar area. No, they won't let you slide down it. The Lantern still has a cheeseburger and fries for 5 bucks- just the same way they were making them back in the 60s.
- Another local favorite is the Naperville branch of celebrity Chef Jimmy Bannos' Heaven on Seven restaurant, which specializes in Cajun and Creole foods. Most of the food is all right for anyone to eat, but if you want it fiery, they can make it happen.
- And you really should go to either El Centro or El Famous (both on Ogden Avenue) to wolf down a giant burrito.
- If you want some really fresh, delicious seafood during lunchtime, head over to Succulent Seafood at Gartner Plaza (corner of Gartner Road and Washington Street) and order a pasta dish or a fish sandwich with any of a number of freshly prepared sauces as you wait.
- Tango Argentinean Grill. Serves Argentinian grilled steaks, Spanish Tapas, and Italian pastas. They are known as the home of "The Longest Steak in the World"--a rolled-up skirt steak that's probably two foot long. The restaurant is located in the heart of downtown Naperville, and within walking distance of the Riverwalk.
- Cookie Dough Creations is a fantastic dessert replacement to the more commercial Cold Stone. Order a scoop of ice cream and then a scoop of egg-free cookie dough to go on top.
- Meson Sabika. Serves Spanish tapas and a lovely brunch. Although it's expensive, it also extremely tasty.
Several of the more well known and long lasting bars in town include The Lantern and Potter's Place in downtown Naperville. For those of you seeking a less glamorous but just as interesting (if not more so) time in the company of hardworking blue-collar types, head to White Tavern on Ogden avenue or Orazio Pub at the Naperville train station.
North Central College is a private, 4-year college nestled nicely into the surrounding historical district. It has very strong business and education programs, award-winning track coach Al Carius and an impressive array of study abroad options for a small college. The school is very integrated with the community at large as well: non-students are welcome to watch a musical performance at the impressive new Wentz Concert Hall, see a play at Pfeiffer Hall, check out the upstairs gallery at Oesterle Library and grab a coffee at the Boilerhouse Cafe.
There are all manner of hotels available- none of them truly exceptional but all more than passable. If it's good location you are more interested in, try the mammoth Holiday Inn Select on Diehl road just off the I-88 tollway exit.
- Hilton Garden Inn Naperville Warrenville, 28351 Dodge Dr, ☎ +1 630-393-3223. Free Internet, business center services, fitness room, and indoor pool.
Parents of little ones need to beware that portions of the River Walk are not protected by any guard rails; kids can fall in the DuPage River if not careful.
There is, of course, plenty to do in the city of Chicago. Nearby Aurora has the Hollywood Casino for gambling and the Westfield Fox Valley Mall for shopping. There are plenty of local parks available, perhaps the best of which is Herrick Lake in Warrenville to the north. There's also the Morton Arboretum one town over in Lisle, a sprawling complex full of all manner of flora.
|Routes through Naperville|
|Omaha ← Galesburg ←||W E||→ Chicago → END|
|Kansas City ← Galesburg ←||W E||→ Chicago → END|
|Davenport ← Aurora ←||W E||→ Lisle → Chicago|
|END ← Aurora ←||W E||→ Lisle → Chicago|