10 Things We Love About Glen Ellyn

With a historic downtown, Glen Ellyn is a picturesque western suburb that offers tree-lined streets and upscale living in a small-town setting. The village of 28,000 residents mixes big city amenities like cocktail bars and inventive Chicago-style restaurants, music festivals and an eclectic retail scene, with suburban living that comes with an abundance of outdoor parks and friendly people. Plus, there are top-rated schools, including Glenbard West High School.

Sandwiched between Wheaton and Lombard, the village—located 23 miles west of Chicago—offers close proximity to major highways, with I-355 and I-88 just to its east and the city, a 50-minute train ride on Metra’s Union Pacific West Line.

According to data from BrokerMetrics, through the first 11 months of 2023, Glen Ellyn had an average home sale price of around $552,000 and a median price of around $499,000. But many homes in Glen Ellyn sell for over $1 million.

Here are 10 things we love about Glen Ellyn.

1. Walkable Downtown. Filled with boutiques, design studios and restaurants, there’s plenty to do. Catch a flick at Glen Art Theatre, a historic movie theater built in the 1920s. Grab chocolates at Chocolaterie Stam, a Belgian-style chocolate café, or take a cooking class at Marcel’s Culinary Experience.

The village’s central business district is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. During the holidays, Santa Claus arrives on a firetruck to light the town’s Christmas tree that sits atop an old horse water trough.

2. Celebrity Sightings and Notables. Several notable figures have graced the halls of Glenbard West High School, including Emmy Award-winning actor Sean Hayes (Class of 1988).  Other famous alumni include Sportscaster Mike Hall, who won ESPN Dream Job and became an anchor with the Big Ten Network (Class of 2000), former U.S. Congressman Peter Roskam (Class of 1979) and former NFL safety Matt Bowen (Class of 1995). Author Robin Currie, a Gold Medal winner of “How to Dress a Dinosaur,” and historical fiction author Melanie Benjamin of the New York Times bestseller, “The Aviator’s Wife” and “The Swans of Fifth Avenue” call Glen Ellyn home.

The infamous post-apocalyptic novel, The Girl Who Owned a City, by O.T. Nelson is based on kids surviving in Glen Ellyn. The 1991 television documentary Yearbook that aired on Fox Network was filmed in Glen Ellyn, along with the 1980s movie, Lucas, starring Corey Haim, Charlie Sheen, Winona Ryder and Courtney Thorne-Smith.

Image credit: atthemac.org

3. The McAninch Arts Center at the College of DuPage. With more than 22,000 students, C.O.D. is the largest community college in the state. The McAninch Arts Center (MAC) at College of DuPage is known for its stunning exhibits and performances including its recent blockbuster Frida Kahlo and Andy Warhol exhibits at the MAC’s Cleve Carney Museum of Art.

See a variety of musicals, concerts, plays and ensembles at the 780-seat Belushi Performance Hall, the 186-seat Playhouse Theatre, the intimate 70-seat black box theater or the 1,200-seat outdoor Lakeside Pavilion with its amphitheater stage.

4. Lake Ellyn. Once a spring-fed lake that drew vacationing Chicagoans, it’s now a quaint, 11-acre lake and 25-acre park next to Glenbard West High School. Picnic under large oak trees, enjoy the lovely boathouse and catch-and-release fishing from the dock.  There’s a large playground and 0.65-mile circular walking path around the lake. In the wintertime, there’s ice skating and hockey on the lake.

5. Great School Districts. Glen Ellyn offers three highly rated public school districts. For high schoolers, District 87 includes top-rated Glenbard West High School (which looks like a castle on a hill, complete with a six-story tower and views overlooking Lake Ellyn) and Glenbard South High School.

For elementary and middle school children, there are two school districts. District 89 is south of Roosevelt and includes Glen Crest Middle School, and District 41 is to the north with Hadley Junior High.

Image credit: enjoyillinois.com

6. Amenities & Services. With 29 parks and 21 playgrounds, Glen Ellyn’s Park District offers more than 700 programs and special events across more than 300 acres. It operates an outdoor public swimming pool, a splash park, two 18-hole mini golf courses, a dog park and Ackerman Sports and Fitness Center, an 88,000-square foot indoor facility that’s surrounded by 65 acres of outdoor athletic fields and natural areas.

Golfers can hit the links at the public course, Village Links of Glen Ellyn, or the private Glen Oak Country Club that was designed by Tom Bendelow.

Small businesses and start-ups can learn how to scale at Innovation DuPage, a business development service in the city’s civic center that offers free 10-week programs to help entrepreneurs.

7. Stellar Eating. Glen Ellyn boasts a vibrant culinary scene.

Embrace your inner Parisian at Marché, a French cafe known for its reds and sparkling wines, and cheese-and-charcuterie plates.

Eat elevated fare at A Toda Madre with upscale, locally-sourced small plated Mexican offerings and hand shaken cocktails.  Sip a glass of wine or have a cocktail by the fire at Fire + Wine, a Neapolitan-style pizza and small plate Italian restaurant.

The kid-friendly 2Toots Train Whistle Grill offers grass-fed beef burgers (that can come on a gluten-free bun), French fries and a milkshake or sundae that arrives on a toy train and comes with a plastic train whistle. Blackberry Market, a fast-casual cafe and bakery, offers a great place to gather or work remotely with its corner-order service that includes breakfast, lunch options and its infamous cinnamon rolls.

Try classics like Barone’s of Glen Ellyn, a beloved fast-casual thin-crust pizza joint and Danby’s Station, a Denny’s-turned-local-diner on Roosevelt Road known for its American fare.

Image credit: Table22.com

8. Brews and Cocktails. For a small village, the number of cocktail lounges is pretty astounding. Grab a glass of small production vino, a craft beer or small plates at Koze Wine Room. The Parlour at Park & Oak is a cocktail lounge attached to a design studio with sweet and savory charcuterie boards to pair with cocktails or a glass of wine.

After honing their craft at Chicago’s Longman & Eagle and Mott St., Mike Melazzo and Chad Hauge opened Common Good Cocktail House, an upscale, creative cocktail lounge that includes an outside patio.

There are plenty of places to grab a brew, including the order-at-the-counter Beer Cellar, which has a backroom for playing board games, or Two Hound Red Brewing, a local brewpub known for its craft beers and upscale inventive pub fare.

9. The Glen Ellyn Library. You can tell a lot of about what matters to a town by its library. This one offers all the amenities of a modern library with the weekly programming of a community center.

There are books, of course, but there’s also 3D printing, a media lab for creating music, podcasts and videos, enclosed study rooms, a cafe and large meeting spaces for events.  You can even use a flight simulator to see what it’s like to fly an airplane.

10. From gifts and gadgets to clothing, Glen Ellyn offers a variety of unique boutiques. Find baby and kid-centric toys, clothing and gifts at locally-owned M and Ems, or shop for candy at Glen Ellyn Sweet Shoppe. For women’s clothing and accessories, there’s Jayne, Norabella Boutique, Blonde Boutique, the quirky The Gnome Colony, Co. and minimalist Hazelry. Shop and help others at Ten Thousand Villages for fair-trade artisan goods and Re:new, a nonprofit selling handbags to help refugees.

Buy imported olive oils and balsamic vinegars at  Olive ‘n Vinnie’s Market or shop for architectural decor, furnishings and jewelry at bench492. Gather and Collect features snarky, eclectic novelty items, decor and vintage clothes. Good Roots, an upscale house plant shop, sells giftable plants and candles. Get throwback records, including vinyl, and music posters at Mudroom Records. The independently-owned Bookstore of Glen Ellyn, sells a well-curated selection of books, puzzles and games.

Written by @properties
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