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A Field Guide to


Expansive beaches, great restaurants, and dramatic architecture. What’s not to like?

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Above:Baha’i House of Worship Photo: Carmen B

If people from Wilmette seem proud of their town, well, there are many reasons: The North Shore village features beautiful houses, a charming downtown, lovely parks, and—of course—beaches. Living here ain’t cheap (the median home sale price is the fifth highest in Illinois), but for those who can afford it, Wilmette routinely ranks among the top places to live in the state. (It’s also the hometown of Bill Murray, Rahm Emanuel, and Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz.) Luckily, you don’t have to drop a million on a house to enjoy it—there’s plenty for visitors who stop by aspirationally, too.

Wilmette map
Illustration: Michael A. Hill

1. Baha’i House of Worship

This ornate temple (its whiteness comes from Portland cement combined with crushed quartz) is one of just eight in the world and the only in North America. bahai.us

2. Gillson Park

Fifty-nine lakeside acres with an outdoor ice-skating rink, sailboat rentals, and a pristine beach. If there’s a better suburban park, we haven’t seen it. wilmettepark.org

3. Keay Nature Learning Center

A half-mile trail winds through this hidden park, which boasts a miniature waterfall (and fish!).

4. Trinity United Methodist Church

Maybe you know this neo-Gothic building as a welcoming house of worship. More likely, you recognize the exterior from Home Alone. trinitywilmette.com

5. Wilmette Theatre

Check out foreign and indie films, as well as occasional comedy shows and interviews with acclaimed filmmakers. wilmettetheatre.com

Necklace from Persimmon
Necklace from Persimmon Photo: Courtesy of Persimmon

6. The Backyard Barbecue Store

Your inner caveman will crave everything from the high-end lump charcoal to the $21,000 Kalamazoo hybrid grill. backyardbbqstore.com

7. Chalet

This home landscaping empire—our 2015 pick for the area’s best garden center—grows its plants on a 183-acre Wisconsin farm. chaletnursery.com

8. Higher Gear

You know those sinewy, Lycra-clad guys speeding up Sheridan Road on Sunday mornings? They probably bought their tricked-out bikes here. highergearchicago.com

9. Persimmon

Hit the espresso bar before browsing trinkets from across the world.

Eat & Drink
Convito Café & Market
Convito Café & Market Photo: Warner Photography

10. Alchemy Coffee & Bake House

The tiny coffee shop has an onsite roaster, perfect scones, and an old-school reel-to-reel tape player. (Frank Sinatra, anyone?)

11. Convito Café & Market

Be the hero of your Ravinia picnic by picking up some orzo with shrimp and a light Italian rosé at this deli-restaurant combo. Boom. convitocafeandmarket.com

12. Homer’s Ice Cream

Legend has it that Al Capone frequented this North Shore institution, which has been serving handmade ice cream (peach is a local fave) for 81 years. homersicecream.com

13. Napolita

Almost everything here is from Italy: the oven, the mixer, even the flour. Except the large poster of a young Sophia Loren—that’s from eBay. napolitapizza.com

Rock House
Rock House Photo: Courtesy of Rock House

14. The Noodle

Order homemade fresh pasta (you pick the shape and sauce) or get it premade at the adjoining market. thenoodlecafe.com

15. Rock House

Upstairs: music lessons. Downstairs: custom-roasted coffee. therockhouseinc.com

Did You Know?

Wilmette residents have the highest average credit rating in the state (743), according to a WalletHub study from earlier this year.

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Tour Wilmette with Joel Reese

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If You Want to Live Here

Population Median houshold income Median sale price (house)
(86% white, 11% Asian, 3% Hispanic)
$126,500 $725,000

Listing of the month

329 Central Ave.

329 Central Ave.
Photo: VHT/via redfin.com

Asking price:$919,000

Specs:1,758 square feet, four bedrooms, three baths

This lovely foursquare is moments from the lake, the Baha’i House of Worship, a golf course, and an L station. See, this is why people pay big to live in Wilmette.

NOTE: Median house value is from July. SOURCES: U.S. Census Bureau, Zillow
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