Average house price: $678,954
Transportation * * * (out of 4) Western Springs residents enjoy quick access to both the Metra and the Tri-State Tollway.
Schools * * * The local public high school (Lyons Township, which is spread across two campuses) is not quite the same caliber as the excellent grade schools.
Shopping * * The town is light on retail offerings, but two adjacent suburbs—Hinsdale and La Grange—put many great options within easy reach.
Plus: On May 29th, the popular Tower Trot takes runners on a 5K or 10K route through the town’s pretty residential blocks.

Over the past several years, some very pretty new houses have been tucked in among the already picturesque homes of Western Springs. Old and new, all the residences tend to meet the high aesthetic standard established decades ago by the brick and limestone water tower at the figurative, if not actual, center of town

In the 19th century, mineral springs drew health-seekers out from Chicago to the tiny town on the western rim of Cook County. The springs went dry long ago, but Western Springs has maintained its appeal as a tranquil hometown. Set back from tree-shaded streets on deep front lawns, its homes represent all eras from the late 1800s to today, with a heavy dose of ranch houses from the middle years of the 20th century.

But it’s not just about good looks. In 2007, Business Week, looking at school quality, cost of living, activities, and crime risk, put Western Springs second on its list of Best Places to Raise Your Kids for Less. Not included in that study, but boosting the area’s allure even more, are the easy commute (via Metra or the Tri-State, which runs along the town’s western border) and the serene trails and trees in Bemis Woods South, a forest preserve immediately north of Western Springs. Near the center of town, a pair of venerable institutions neighbor each other: the Thomas Ford Memorial Library, a busy cultural hub, and the Village Club, which hosts parties, golf leagues, and, in its four basement lanes, a bowling league. A few blocks away, the Theatre of Western Springs has been staging plays for more than 80 years.

As part of the nexus of affluent towns in western Cook and eastern DuPage counties, Western Springs benefited from real estate’s boom years with a spate of new home construction. Improvements to its diminutive downtown (where Casey’s Market remains a standout) have been slow going, but the retail offerings to the east in La Grange and to the west in Hinsdale more than make up the deficit.