Located just 10 miles west of downtown Chicago, Oak Park is filled with a rich creative history. Not only is the distinct community known for creatives like Ernest Hemingway and Frank Lloyd Wright, Oak Park is truly a classic with a twist. From town functions to lush open spaces, it’s clear to see why so many call this vibrant community home. We’re sharing 10 reasons why we love this town.
Home of Ernest Hemingway
Famed novelist Ernest Hemingway was born and raised in the Oak Park community. Ernest Hemingway’s Birthplace Museum, located at 339 N. Oak Park Avenue, is actually where Hemingway was born and raised through his early childhood. The Queen Anne home was built in the 1800s and was the first Oak Park home to have electricity. It has since been restored to its natural beauty, allowing you to walk the halls Hemingway once roamed.
Iconic Homes Line the Streets
Being a real estate brokerage, we couldn’t overlook the outstanding mix of home styles which include Victorian, Queen Anne, Craftsman and Prairie School. And there is one more type you will see around town: Frank Lloyd Wright. Early in Wright’s career, he spent more time building homes in Oak Park than anywhere else. The renowned architect designed 25 homes in the Oak Park area, including his own home and studio.
A Secret Garden
Quietly tucked away in a residential neighborhood is the Austin Gardens, which is often referred to as ‘The Secret Garden.’ Among its 3.64 acres, Austin Gardens houses and protects 285 trees and is dedicated to educating the community about environmental issues. While you are able to learn about conservation and nature, you can enjoy extraordinary trees, wildflower woodland habitats, picnic spots and walking paths.
Oak Park knows how to celebrate. To welcome fall, they host Oaktoberfest in the downtown area where all can enjoy live music, fall bites from local restaurants and craft beers. If this sounds like an adults only get together, think again. A special Kids’ Root Beer Garden is also available along with a variety of activities for all ages.
Array of Cuisines
Speaking of local restaurants, Oak Park boasts an array of cuisines. Kick off the day with fresh squeezed orange juice, a signature breakfast sandwich and buttermilk pancakes at Delia’s Kitchen. From there you can venture on to enjoy a culinary journey through Central and South America at Maya Del Sol or feast on fresh baguettes at Léa French Street Food. Once dinner rolls around, take a trip to Italy with made-from-scratch dishes at La Notte Ristorante Italiano.
It’s easy to shop local in this lovely town, where you can find an assortment of boutiques and small businesses. For instance, stop into Careful Peach Boutique for jewelry, home decor and thoughtful gifts. Or trot on over to Ten Thousand Villages for fair trade items from accessories to coffee.
You can’t forget to pick up your newest read at The Book Table, a local and independent book store.
Mills Park and Pleasant Home
The National Historic Landmark was designed in 1897 by architect George W. Maher, and is considered to be one of the most distinguished examples of Prairie School Architecture. Today, the 30-room home is a living museum with intricate glass windows, woodcarvings and tile work. All are welcome to come and enjoy this fine beauty.
Oak Park Conservatory
Considered a hidden oasis, the Oak Park Conservatory showcases some of the most beautiful and exotic florals. With three indoor showrooms, there are plenty of flowers from the mediterranean, tropics and desert. You can also step outside to experience their more urban garden.
Thursday Night Out
While it has wrapped up for the season, the spring/summer event brings exposure to the gems of Oak Park. The community is invited to kick off the weekend early with live music and delicious bites.
Oak Park is easy to travel to and from with quick access to the Eisenhower Expressway and public transportation options like the CTA Green Line, Blue Line, buses and Oak Park Metra station. If biking is more your speed, the village’s Augusta Boulevard is part of the Grand Illinois Trail.