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Field Guide


A magic shop, a gem museum, and a schnitzel emporium walk into a suburb …

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Above:Elmhurst Art Museum Photo: Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune

If there were a contest for most interesting Chicago suburb, Elmhurst, with its eccentric mix of shops and destinations, would be hard to beat. Beyond its namesake 145-year-old college, which once hosted a speech by Martin Luther King Jr., the western burb has a fascinating history center and a world-class art museum that routinely brings big-name exhibits (and is about to undergo a substantial renovation that will reveal the original façade of the Mies van der Rohe–designed building). But the highbrow pedigree doesn’t mean residents don’t know how to party—the town’s St. Patrick’s Day parade is one of the largest in the area.

Illustration: Michael A. Hill
A necklace at the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art
A necklace at the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art Photo: Ken Larsen/Courtesy of Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art

1. Elmhurst Art Museum

It’s no small-timer.Currently on display: works by Chuck Close and Roy Lichtenstein.

2. Elmhurst History Museum

Housed in a beautiful Victorian, the museum features rotating exhibits, such as an expansive look back at Disco Demolition.

3. F.B. Henderson House

With almost a hundred (!) art glass windows, the 1905 Frank Lloyd Wright classic is one of his first fully realized Prairie-style homes.

4. Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art

The building, which houses a vast collection of gemstones and intricate jade carvings from around the world, was finished to look like a jewel box: low, square, and windowless.

Wilder Park
Wilder Park Photo: Chuck Berman/Chicago Tribune

5. Wilder Park

This 17-acre park—originally a cow pasture—includes a wonderland of a playground (complete with several climbing towers), a conservatory, and even a butterfly garden.


6. Bob James Magic and Curiosities

Stock up on tricks, practical jokes (fake vomit!), and jars of preserved mice fetuses at the oddball spot because … why not?

7. Hazyl Boutique

L.A. cool meets New York chic at this fresh boutique, packed with drapey tees and breezy sundresses.

8. It’s Good to Be King

Whether you’re looking for a simple portable backgammon board or a $199 set of pewter chess pieces, this is your place. Oh, and you can pick up a Thomas Jefferson bobblehead, too.

9. Main Street Candy & Toys

The name is a bit of a misnomer, since this shop doesn’t sell that much candy. It does, however, have approximately 50 bajillion toys for all ages, from pot-banging infants to Lego-loving adults (no judgment).

10. RedE Boutique

The whimsical Alice + Olivia tops and elevated basics from Theory at this hip stop would be right at home in Wicker Park.

Eat & Drink
Courageous Bakery & Cafe
Courageous Bakery & Cafe Photo: Courtesy of Courageous Bakery

11. Courageous Bakery & Cafe

This local fave began as a food truck and now has a warm, airy home selling top-notch cupcakes.

12. Hamburger Heaven

Wear your poodle skirt when you pull up to this charmer, which has been an Elmhurst institution since 1948.

13. Mack’s Golden Pheasant

Enter this chalet-like building and step through a time (and space) warp to a classic Bohemian joint specializing in breaded pork tenderloin, roast duckling, and, of course, Wiener schnitzel.

14. One Fifty One Kitchen | Bar

Get a first-class grilled dry-aged rib eye for about half what you’d pay in River North. Or just hang at the bar and demolish the perfectly made burger.

15. Red Arrow Tap Room

Step 1: Pour your own pint from one of 48 craft beer taps. Step 2: Order some house-smoked baby back ribs and grab a table outside.

This Month

September 9:Check out the anime-influenced pop art of Hebru Brantley when his new solo exhibit opens at the Elmhurst Art Museum.

September 9 to 10:The Beatles cover band American English performs at the annual festival Rock the Block.

September 16:Learn how artists created the inlaid stone patterns on the Taj Mahal at a lecture at the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art.

September 16:Lagers, ales, stouts—you name it, you’ll find it at the Elmhurst Craft Beer Fest on the grounds of the Elmhurst History Museum.

September 30:You don’t have to be an Elmhurst College alum (a.k.a. a Bluejay) to cheer at the homecoming football game against Division III rival Augustana College.

Did You Know?

In 2014, Family Circle magazine named Elmhurst one of the 10 best places in the United States for families.

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If You Want to Live Here

Population Median houshold income Median sale price (house)
(85% white, 6% Asian, 2% black)
$95,000 $385,000

Listing of the month

143 S. West Ave.

143 S. West Ave.
Photo: Courtesy of gntphoto.com

Asking price:$532,000

Specs:2,137 square feet, four bedrooms, three baths

Not enough room for you in the beautifully landscaped back yard (complete with a two-level deck and fire pit)? Well then, just head across the street to 16-acre Plunkett Park.

NOTE: Real estate data are from July 2017. SOURCES: Statistical Atlas, Zillow
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