Illinois

naperville

  • About

  • History

  • Location

  • Things to do

  • Demographics

  • Culture

  • Schools

  • FAQ

Naperville, IL Real Estate

Naperville represents the best of suburban living. This sprawling suburb is known in Chicagoland for red brick walkways of the iconic Naperville Riverwalk, incredible local eateries and shops downtown, and kid-friendly neighborhoods with award-winning public schools.

A southwest suburb of Chicago, Naperville is about 30 miles outside the city. It’s a frequent top pick for awards like Best Cities to Raise a Family in America (by Niche), America’s Coolest Suburbs (Apartment Therapy), and Safest City in America (MoneyGeek and SafeWise). We’re going to take a closer look at what makes this suburb a prize-winning place to live.

History

The Illiniwek and Potawatomi tribes lived in Naperville before the arrival of European settlers; three Naperville high schools have names from figures in Potawatomi history (Neuqua Valley, Waubonsie Valley, and Metea Valley). Schoolchildren in Naperville head to Naper Settlement, an outdoor history museum that preserves some of the city’s oldest buildings, to learn about local history. The museum traces Naperville’s history from its roots as a settlement founded by Joseph Naper in 1831, and visitors who stroll through the grounds will get a peek into buildings from the past. That includes the Pre-Emption House, a hotel and tavern where stagecoach travelers would have stayed; the Century Memorial Chapel, originally built back as St. John’s Episcopal Church in 1864; and crafts buildings such as a blacksmith shop and print shop. Just a couple of blocks away from Naper Settlement, even more history awaits within the Naperville Cemetery. The cemetery offers a vibrant glimpse into the lives of Napervillians over the years, with burials and interments continuing to this day. Those who stroll through can find the graves of settlers born in the 1700s, veterans of the Revolutionary War, and entire families buried together. Nearby, towards the train station, Naperville’s Historic District boasts gorgeous old homes beneath the shade of mature trees. However, Naperville is definitely more than a historic town. Even in the downtown district, new construction continues at an impressive clip, with developers specializing in luxury homes putting up modern new single-family homes, condos, and townhomes. As you move further out from downtown, the neighborhoods themselves become newer. The south side of Naperville in particular has seen fast development in the past 30 years, with many new subdivisions, shopping centers, and more going up. It’s a trend that continues to this day.

Things to do in naperville

Naperville’s arts and entertainment options are larger than what you might expect for a suburb; in fact, it’s this vibe that landed Naperville a spot on Apartment Therapy’s list of Coolest Cities. Local libraries frequently host free concerts, the high schools stage plays and musicals with serious production value, and professional theater troupes take to the stage at BrightSide Theatre. While the arts scene in Chicago is just a train ride away as well, Naperville residents are just as likely to head to nearby Aurora’s Paramount Theater for off-Broadway productions.

Community events are a big deal in Naperville. Annual events include a big Memorial Day parade, the Last Fling celebration of the end of summer, an arts fair that takes over downtown, and the summer RibFest (which has grown so large it is now moving to the DuPage County Fairgrounds in Wheaton).

On the arts front, art fests and craft fairs pop up all over the city during warm weather months, and holiday markets flourish in the winter. The downtown area includes art and jewelry boutiques, as well as spots for DIY creation, including paint-your-own pottery and paint-along classes.

Outdoor recreation is also popular in Naperville. Swimming at Centennial Beach, going kayaking down the DuPage River, biking on dedicated paths, and hiking in nature preserves are all popular with local residents.

Naperville has a thriving, well funded park district that maintains a huge amount of recreational space in the city. There are more than 70 playgrounds around town, ranging from smaller parks in neighborhoods to gigantic themed playgrounds complete with splash pads.

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Map showing naperville

Location

Naperville is less than 30 miles southwest of Chicago. It has two stops on Metra’s BNSF train line: a stop in downtown Naperville, as well as a stop off of Route 59, which is a major commercial corridor. Naperville’s shape is irregular, and the town tends to mingle with other nearby suburbs. It spans nearly 40 square miles; the border jigsaws in and out with nearby towns including Lisle, Woodridge, Bolingbrook, and Aurora.

naperville demographics

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Naperville is the fourth-biggest city in Illinois with a population of nearly 150,000 people. The median age in Naperville is 35 years old, reflecting the town’s appeal to families with young children.

Notably, Naperville has an Asian population of 20.5%, according to the 2020 census. Every year, the Indian Community Outreach organizations hosts an India Day celebration and parade, which features decorated floats, music and dancing, food, shopping, and more. The Mall of India indoor mall and food court brings a variety of Indian businesses beneath one roof, while a strip mall anchored by Patel Brothers, an Indian and Pakistani grocer, also gathers many Southeast Asian businesses in one spot.

Edward Hospital is the largest employer in Naperville. Big businesses including Nokia, Nicor Gas, and BP also have offices in the area. Residents also tend to commute to other suburbs or to the city of Chicago for work; the Route 59 and Naperville stops on the Metra both run regular express trains to Union Station downtown, and Pace Bus stops throughout the area also connect to the train stations.

Naperville is also a frequent top pick for global businesses looking to expand. For example, in 2021, it received a Starbucks Reserve restaurant, alongside just three other cities: Seattle, New York City, and Shanghai.

Arts in naperville

Mural in Spanish Harlem in New York City

Naperville’s arts and entertainment options are larger than what you might expect for a suburb; in fact, it’s this vibe that landed Naperville a spot on Apartment Therapy’s list of Coolest Cities. Local libraries frequently host free concerts, the high schools stage plays and musicals with serious production value, and professional theater troupes take to the stage at BrightSide Theatre. While the arts scene in Chicago is just a train ride away as well, Naperville residents are just as likely to head to nearby Aurora’s Paramount Theater for off-Broadway productions.

Community events are a big deal in Naperville. Annual events include a big Memorial Day parade, the Last Fling celebration of the end of summer, an arts fair that takes over downtown, and the summer RibFest (which has grown so large it is now moving to the DuPage County Fairgrounds in Wheaton).

On the arts front, art fests and craft fairs pop up all over the city during warm weather months, and holiday markets flourish in the winter. The downtown area includes art and jewelry boutiques, as well as spots for DIY creation, including paint-your-own pottery and paint-along classes.

Outdoor recreation is also popular in Naperville. Swimming at Centennial Beach, going kayaking down the DuPage River, biking on dedicated paths, and hiking in nature preserves are all popular with local residents.

Mural in Spanish Harlem in New York City

Schools in naperville

Naperville is known for its top-tier public schools, with national and statewide awards for both of its school districts. Special education support, gifted programs, award-winning music programs, competitive athletics, and robust extracurriculars are par for the course within these schools. Naperville Community Unit School District 203 (which is almost entirely in Naperville) boasts a 16:1 student-teacher ratio and a 96% graduation rate as of 2021; Indian Prairie School District 204 (which also extends into Aurora, Bolingbrook, and Plainfield) has a 19:1 student-teacher ratio and 94% graduation rate as of 2021. While most Naperville kids attend public schools, there are several private schools in town, including religious and Montessori options. North Central College has its campus right next to downtown Naperville, seamlessly mixing in with downtown businesses and the city’s historic district. The college is known for its excellent athletics and academics, including well known accounting and education programs. The athletic stadium is right downtown, adding a little excitement on game days.

Why naperville?

Here are the top considerations that tend to tip the scale for newcomers to Naperville:
* Excellent schools. If you ask residents why they first came to Naperville, this is almost certainly the most common answer you’ll hear.
* Family-centric communities. Naperville makes cul-de-sac living dreams come true in its wide-open subdivisions. Schools, park district recreation, church and religious programming, and more are very accommodating to families with children.
* Combination of big-town amenities and local flavor. From healthcare at a top-rated hospital to shopping at almost any big chain you can imagine, Naperville offers convenience and quality. However, that’s balanced by the town’s love of the arts and independent businesses. The downtown area is booming and offers a lively experience; on any given week in the summer, you might find three different farmers’ markets happening across the city.
* Value in the area. While real estate price tags vary, Naperville tends to offer more space and luxury compared to some of its neighbors closer to the city.
* Convenient commutes. Its proximity to train travel and expressways makes Naperville a convenient location for workers with offices across the Chicagoland area.

It’s not too over-the-top to say that Naperville embodies much of the suburban dream. Its schools, libraries, park district, and hospital all regularly win national awards, as does the city itself. This big suburb continues to grow and attract new residents to its community.

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