The only suburb on this list without passenger train service, Frankfort works hard to overcome that negative with pluses such as an appealing frontier-town vibe (complete with covered sidewalks), a five-year-old children’s museum, and the Old Plank Road Trail, which runs 13 miles west into Joliet. But growth is where this place really stands out. The population has doubled in the past 20 years as Frankfort subtracted farms and tacked on new subdivisions, contorting its borders beyond recognition. “We’re able to grow because there’s not much south of us until Kankakee,” says Mayor Jim Holland.
Fast growth brings downsides, no question, such as more traffic and strains on village services. But it also boosts property tax revenues, which fund schools. Frankfort’s Lincoln-Way East High School is already tops in Will County. As long as class sizes remain reasonable, education should continue to be a big draw. So should the robust real-estate market: Home prices here barely wavered during the postcrash years that many other exurb residents would like to forget.