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.
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.
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
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.
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.