Above, from left: Downtown Highland Park; a float at Forest Park’s Brown Cow; and Paper Merchant in Geneva
Photos: (Highland Park) Adam Smith; (Brown Cow) Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune; (Geneva) Brian DeWolfe

  Forest Park Geneva Highland Park La Grange Tinley Park
Main Drag Madison Street State Street Central Avenue La Grange Road Oak Park Avenue
Folksy Feature Old-timey streetlamps Boutiques in Victorian houses Stupey Log Cabin, built in 1847 Annual pet parade in June Arts and Crafts–style Metra station
How to Spend a Saturday In warm weather, grabbing a brew at one of the abundant curbside patios Strolling along the Fox River Power shopping through more than 80 stores Antiquing at the Jackson Square Mall Instagramming creations from the yearly bench-decorating contest
But Where Should I Get Ice Cream? The Brown Cow Ice Cream Parlor Graham’s Fine Chocolates & Ice Cream La Michoacana Ice Cream Parlor Tates Old Fashioned Ice Cream Shop Plush Horse Ice Cream Shoppe

Winner: Forest Park

It has the ideal mix of independent shops, buzzy restaurants, and small-town nostalgia — and you can get there on the L.