Wilmette is a North Shore Getaway
Wilmette may be considered a bedroom community for big brother Chicago, but the village of 27,000 residents has a personality and beauty all its own. Located 14 miles north of downtown Chicago along the western shore of Lake Michigan, Wilmette charms visitors with its religious architecture (check out the 1909 First Congregational Church and the Bahá’í House of Worship), quaint brick streets and abundance of trees – Wilmette’s nearly 19,000 trees represent 150 species. In 2007, Bloomberg BusinessWeek ranked family-friendly Wilmette as the seventh-best place in the nation to raise children.
On the Beach
Summer serves as the perfect time to visit Wilmette, due to its abundance of water recreation opportunities. Sailboats bob in the water in Wilmette Harbor, creating a picturesque scene. The Wilmette Park District owns and manages two beaches along Lake Michigan at Gillson Park and Langdon Park. Swimming, sailing, picnicking, bicycling and volleyball are popular pastimes at the Wilmette beaches. The Park District requires a daily fee of $9 for admission during the day and $4 in the evening for nonresidents. (Learn more by calling (847) 256-9656.)
Shop ’til You Drop
Wilmette’s seven commercial districts each provide a different shopping experience, and free parking and a pedestrian-friendly environment make shopping hassle-free. The Village Center, east of Green Bay Road and centered around the Metra Station, serves as Wilmette’s central business district, brimming with specialty shops and restaurants. You’ll also find unusual boutiques, shops and restaurants at Plaza del Lago, with its historic Spanish-inspired architecture providing lots of eye candy.
Love antiques? Don’t miss the Ridge Road District, known as “Antique Row” for its large number of antique dealers.
From May through October, Wilmette’s open-air French Market floods the Village Center with fruits, vegetables, flowers, cheeses, meats, breads, clothing, jewelry and crafts sold by local and regional vendors.
Arts & Entertainment
The Wilmette Theatre celebrates 100 years of entertainment this year. Opened a century ago with 600 seats at a cost of $52,000, the downtown theater has brought live shows, concerts, comedy, movies and children’s programs to Wilmette for a century.
Renovated in 2006, it continues to draw crowds both young and old. The 2014 season includes favorites such as “Little Women,” Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” and “A Little Princess.” Visit wilmettetheatre.com for upcoming events.
Irving’s Hot Dogs
Chicago has a long love affair with hot dogs, and Wilmette certainly shares that sentiment. The legendary Irving’s For Red Hot Lovers serves up Chicago-style hot dogs, Polish sausages, brats and burgers as well as sandwiches, melts and wraps. The locals have eaten at Irving’s since 1975, and today the restaurant ships its hot dogs nationwide. Try the Pure Beef Red Hot, a juicy hot dog in a warm poppy seed bun topped with mustard, relish, diced onion, tomatoes, pickles, celery salt and hot sport peppers. Irving’s calls it “man’s best friend.”