The Tinley Park train station
A suburban treasure: The Tinley Park train station, selected by the Illinois chapter of the American Institute of Architects as one of the 150 great places in Illinois


Average house price: $257,718
Transportation * * (out of 4) Metra serves the town, and I-80 and I-57 are nearby.
Schools * * * Another town that combines good public grade schools with average (Andrew and Tinley Park) public high schools.
Shopping * * * Retail and dining offerings are all within easy reach.
Plus: According to Business Week, an outstanding place to raise children

Tinley Park is a big town, its boundaries encompassing about 15 square miles of land. Yet on a recent morning, as she ate breakfast at the café in the town’s Oak Park Avenue Metra station, Laurie Marchigiani proclaimed, “You’re in the Mayberry of the Chicago suburbs.”

It is a testament to Tinley Park’s character that this town—which on a map looks like a huge quilt of separate subdivisions and parks—exudes welcome. “Everything is close, everybody knows each other, and there are parades for everything,” said Marchigiani, a massage therapist who commutes by train to her job on Chicago’s North Side.

As yet, there has been no parade to celebrate the town’s selection by Business Week last year as the best place in the country to raise kids. But the solid test scores and other data from the local elementary and middle schools may be honor enough. (Most Tinley Park teenagers attend Andrew, Tinley Park, and Lincoln-Way North high schools, which don’t perform quite as well.)

Going beyond education, 30-plus parks offer a smorgasbord of recreation. A major summer draw is the five-acre White Water Canyon Water Park, but there are also batting cages, miniature golf, natural areas, and sports leagues. There is even a good old-school roller rink.

Young homebuyers particularly like Tinley Park because they get all these amenities without spending a fortune.

Because of its size and many subdivisions, the town has a wide array of housing options, at a variety of points on the price ladder. Mostly older, rather modest residences cluster near the town’s historic core (around Oak Park Avenue and Hickory Street), but subdivisions offering a range of styles and prices radiate out from there. Newer homes, in places like the Odyssey Country Club, push prices past the $500,000 mark.

No matter where its newer residents choose to live, the town extends them an amiable welcome. “You move to Tinley Park from somewhere else,” Marchigiani said over breakfast, “and it feels like you got home.”


Photograph: Courtesy of the Village of Tinley Park