Wilmette—20 Best Towns and Neighborhoods in Chicago and the Suburbs

Average house price: $886,179
Transportation * * * (out of 4) Accessible to Metra and CTA; Edens Expressway is on village’s western border.
Schools * * * * Children have the option of attending an outstanding array of public and private schools at all levels, including three highly rated high schools: New Trier, Loyola Academy, and the all-girl Regina Dominican.
Shopping * * * * The walkable downtown offers many shops and restaurants, and the Edens Plaza shopping center is nearby.
Plus: Gillson Park, with its pretty green space and beaches, is a suburban dreamland.

Sheridan Road threads together a series of pretty North Shore communities, each with its own complement of mansions, beaches, and superb schools. Yet, even among this glittering array of towns, Wilmette stands out with its blend of modern amenities and century-old homes lining quaint brick streets. From the village’s Gillson Park and Beach on the east to the prestigious Loyola Academy on the west, Wilmette is stocked with rare and valuable treasures, including the lacy Baha’i temple and the Mediterranean fantasy that is the Plaza del Lago shopping center. The pleasant, walkable downtown area (around Green Bay Road and Wilmette Avenue) offers such varied diversions as an excellent summer farmers’ market, an old movie theatre with an eccentric schedule of performance and film, and a bike path that stretches south into Chicago and north nearly to Wisconsin.

Housing is pricey here, and it’s even costlier near the lake—no surprise in a town whose library and schools, both public and private, are among the region’s best. Wilmette is also well served by transportation outlets: the Edens Expressway, Metra, and the northern terminus of the CTA’s Purple Line at Linden Avenue. And Sheridan Road, the village’s main artery, has been reconstructed in the past three years. The new Arts and Crafts–style roadside markers letting drivers know that they are in Wilmette are nice but hardly necessary. Even undiscriminating observers can easily tell that they have clearly arrived in a distinctive place.

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