Above: Naperville Riverwalk Photo: Andrew Palochko
To urban snobs (admit it), Naperville likely conjures thoughts of McMansions, endless strip malls, and soulless chain restaurants. One stroll down the lovely riverwalk, though, should immediately dispel those facile notions. Indeed, the town also has some welcome quirks—one of the high schools has its own Egyptian mummy, donated in the ’40s by a local doctor. Naperville also boasts miles of bike trails, an outdoor history museum, and enough indie bars and restaurants to keep you Applebee’s-free. Perhaps most notable, early July’s massive Ribfest features dozens of ’cue masters and A-list-ish musical acts.
1. Centennial Beach
Trivia time: How much water is in the quarry-turned-humongous-pool? Answer: 6.2 million gallons. The park also includes a manmade beach, a sand volleyball court, and a baseball field. centennialbeach.org
2. DuPage Children’s Museum
Recharge while the kids make huge bubbles, frolic in a wind tunnel, and climb on a massive pyramid. dupagechildrens.org
3. Moser Tower and Millennium Carillon
Climb 253 steps to the top of the 160-foot tower (nine feet taller than the Statue of Liberty). naperville-carillon.org
4. Naper Settlement
This restored 19th-century village (think Colonial Williamsburg lite) offers Blacksmithing 101 and a re-created Civil War camp. napersettlement.org
5. Naperville Riverwalk
It’s not San Antonio, but this meandering 1.75-mile walk along the DuPage River is still lovely. naperville.il.us
6. Paddleboat Quarry
Take a leisurely cruise around the quarry—by kayak or, well, paddleboat—starting at $10. napervilleparks.org
7. Alixandra Collections
No, you don’t have to go to the mall to find casual-cool Trina Turk shifts, Splendid tees, and Tom Ford specs. shopalix.com
8. Anderson’s Bookshop
This 7,000-square-foot flagship, named by Publishers Weekly as Bookstore of the Year in 2011, regularly features readings by high-caliber scribes. andersonsbookshop.com
9. Two Bostons
Dozens of collars, stuffed toys, absurdly cute outfits, and bags of refrigerated hormone-free beef and bison food for Fido. And that’s just on the first floor. twobostons.com
Eat & Drink
The chef may be a vet of the James Beard House in New York, but the Latin-fusion cuisine—think chimichurri fried calamari—is locally sourced. delirionaperville.com
11. La Sorella di Francesca
Find top-notch Italian at this two-story outpost of the Mia Francesca empire, located in the old city hall. miafrancesca.com
12. Le Chocolat du Bouchard
Chocolate is king at this ornate shop, featuring cocoa-themed books, seminars, and treats from all over the world. facebook.com/lechocolatdb
13. Mesón Sabika
Grab an outdoor seat and nosh on delicious tapas at the elegant 1847 mansion. mesonsabika.com
14. Solemn Oath Brewery
Don’t be put off by the industrial park locale. Grab the imperial IPA Death by Viking or the Belgian American pale ale Punk Rock for Rich Kids. solemnoathbrewery.com
July 1 to 4:Sheryl Crow, Gin Blossoms, and other ’90s throwbacks play Ribfest at Knoch Park.
July 9 to 10:Artists from across the country sell their wares at the Naperville Woman’s Club’s art fair at Naper Settlement.
July 13:Best-selling local author Emily Giffin (Something Borrowed) reads at North Central College’s Meiley-Swallow Hall.
July 16:More than a hundred brewers, including Allagash, Ommegang, and Deschutes, sling pints at Naper Settlement.
July 19: Dutch carillonneur Hylke Banning rings them bells at Moser Tower.
Did You Know?
Gumshoe Dick Tracy is memorialized with a nine-foot-tall bronze statue, in honor of comic artist and Naperville resident Dick Locher. (It’s in storage until October when it will stand across from City Hall.)