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A Field Guide to


Celebrated chefs. A charming riverwalk. Abundant craft beer. It’s not the suburban purgatory you might imagine.

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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.

Naperville map
Centennial Beach
Centennial Beach Photo: Zoncom Productions

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

A bracelet at Alixandra Collections
A bracelet at Alixandra Collections Photo: Courtesy of Alixandra Collections

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

10. Delirio

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

Solemn Oath Brewery
Solemn Oath Brewery Photo: Courtesy of Solemn Oath

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.)

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Tour Naperville with Joel Reese

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If You Want to Live Here

Population Median houshold income Median sale price (house)
(73% white, 15% Asian, 5% Hispanic, 5% black)
$109,500 $340,000

Listing of the month

22 N. Sleight St.

22 N. Sleight St.
Photo: Joseph Noel/Chicago Home Photos

Asking price:$387,500

Specs:1,443 square feet, three bedrooms, two baths

It doesn’t get much more charming than this cottage with original moldings, a fireplace, and a clawfoot bathtub.

SOURCES:U.S. Census, Zillow
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