Glen Ellyn’s downtown showcases charming shops and small restaurants.
Average house price: $447,388
Transportation * * (out of 4) Not one of the town’s strengths
Schools * * * Excellent elementary and middle schools, but the nearby public high schools (Glenbard West and South) don’t perform at the same level.
Shopping * * * The downtown core includes many charming boutiques and small restaurants; more extensive offerings line Roosevelt Road.
Plus: The College of DuPage (cod.edu) adds a cultural element, with, for instance, the extensive arts programming at the The McAninch Arts Center.
Darci Bertrand spent most of her childhood in Glen Ellyn and has moved back three times in her adult life. So she is something of an expert on what draws people to this village in the western suburbs. “It’s a small town with a metropolitan area all around it,” says Bertrand, a mother of four. She then proceeds to tick off the many places her kids can reach on foot or by bike: their schools, two Dairy Queens, football practice, and the 55-mile Illinois Prairie Path bike trail. “My car can use one tank of gas for four months in the summer, if I try,” Bertrand says, as two of her children continue calling out walk-to attractions in town.
For shopping, there is the traditional downtown area, which contains everything from boutiques and dinner restaurants to the practical places: the hardware store, the library, and the village hall. A string of newer shopping centers stretches along Roosevelt Road.
Founded as a health resort centered on Lake Ellyn, the town has a hilly terrain that provides a rambling feel to the streets on its east end, near Churchill Woods Forest Preserve. The brick buildings and hillside site of Glenbard West High School give it the look of a private academy. The town’s elementary schools also enjoy good reputations. The College of DuPage, a community college, lies south of Roosevelt Road, just beyond the 18-hole Village Links golf course.
As Darci Bertrand discussed home prices, private schools, and other aspects of Glen Ellyn, her children continued to put forth reasons their town is more fun than others: Sunset Pool, Newton Park (with its ball fields, tennis and basketball courts, and skate park), the old-time Glen movie theatre, seasonal ice-skating and fishing on Lake Ellyn, and the friendly and flavorful restaurants, including Glen Oak Restaurant, Honey, and Santa Fe. “They like [the town] as much as I do,” Bertrand said, pondering the idea that her kids could wind up continuing her pattern of forever returning to Glen Ellyn.
Photograph: Courtesy of Glen Ellyn EDC