The big kahuna of the southwestern suburbs is known by many Chicagoans primarily for the huge Orland Square Mall, the shops of Orland Park Crossing, and its scores of retail plazas. But this town is much more than just a place to spend money. Homebuyers with a hunger for recreation will find well-kept fields, forests, and ponds (some artificial, but so what?). Sal and Wendy Briseno chose Orland Park years ago for its reasonably priced housing and its schools. “Carl Sandburg High is big [3,500 students], but still very good,” says Sal. Prairie School and several other district grade schools also perform above average.

At Orland Park’s northern limits, between 143rd Street and 144th Place a couple of blocks west of La Grange Road, lies the Old Orland Historic District, with many 1880s residences (and a smattering of antiques and jewelry stores). If you prefer to rent, options are growing: The mixed-use development Ninety7Fifty on the Park recently delivered 300 upscale apartments, plus—of course!—new street-level stores.