Discover the Joys of Living in Wheaton
Wheaton is a city that has seen great changes over the last decades, transforming the town into one of the most desirable of the Western suburbs of Chicago.
Newcomers are often surprised to discover that the Mayberry town of Wheaton was a dry city until 1985, with not a drop of liquor sold in any of the city’s supermarkets, convenience stores, or restaurants. Today, however, Wheaton is anything but a dull place to live, having seen a boom in business and real estate development since the 90s.
The downtown is packed with fantastic local businesses, including the skinniest popcorn shop you’ve ever seen, and a weekly open-air market overflowing with fresh fruits, vegetables, cheese, and baked goods.
The park district draws visitors from the entire Chicagoland area with its astounding variety of outdoor beauty. The school district has won its fair share of titles too, making Wheaton a popular choice for educationally-minded families.
Although Wheaton has no end of fun places to go and nice people to meet, it is very well connected should you ever feel the need for a change of pace. There are two metra stops in town, with around 45 minutes to be in the hustle and bustle of Chicago. Wheaton is a great choice for city workers looking for more square footage, with around a third of the population making the daily commute.
Charming, community-minded, and packed with cultural activities, Wheaton was recently named one of the best places to live by Money.com. Keep reading and we’ll show you what’s to love about life in Wheaton.
Be part of a close-knit community
IS WHEATON A CONSERVATIVE PLACE TO LIVE?
Wheaton is traditionally considered one of the most conservative suburbs of Chicago. It has over 45 churches within the city limits and is known for its prestigious evangelical college, Wheaton College. According to The Genius Edition of Trivial Pursuit, Wheaton has the second most churches per capita in America.
Although it is certainly a great place to live for Christians, the religious history of the town has very little effect on its many non-secular residents. For example, religion tends to have little impact on the day-to-day lives of students within the public schools, with daily religious studies being offered by the private schools in the city instead.
The people of Wheaton today will tend to say that the city isn’t as conservative as its reputation tells, but is a welcoming and friendly city for all. New neighbors of any kind can benefit from the values of a close-knit community — one that truly believes in looking out for one another.
Take your pick from exceptional education
WHAT ARE THE SCHOOLS LIKE IN WHEATON?
It’s safe to say that Wheaton makes education a priority. Most of Wheaton is served by school district 200, which won its 5th consecutive Governance Award in 2020. The school district is awarded an exceptional A+ on niche.com, ranking it among the best in Illinois. The city is home to Wheaton College, a liberal Evangelical arts college.
Public High Schools
There are three public high schools in Wheaton, all of which have an A+ rating on niche.com.
- Wheaton North — serves students North of Roosevelt Rd, who attend Monroe and Franklin middle schools
- Wheaton Warrenville South — serves students South of Roosevelt Rd, who attend Edison and Hubble middle schools
- Glenbard South High School — attended by students in far Southeast Wheaton who do not go to Warrenville
There are also several private pre-schools and two private high schools — the majority of which are non-secular.
Wheaton North High School
Wheaton North Serves Students residing north of Roosevelt Rd.
The school was built to cater to the growing community in the 1960s. The school underwent renovations to build a new library in 2015, after a flood.
Wheaton North has 2,050 students and a teacher ratio of 16:1. It has a Niche overall score of A+ and graduated 93.8% of its most recent senior class.
The school is well known for its academic and athletic achievements and provides ample opportunity for boys and girls to compete in sports. Both boys and girls teams regularly finish in the top four in the state tournaments across athletic activities.
Wheaton Warrenville South High School
Wheaton Warrenville South High School is the oldest of the three schools, having opened in 1876. It’s had several name changes, known today as Warrenville.
The school is located at the intersection of Butterfield Rd and Herrick Rd, serving Warrenville and any students residing south of Roosevelt road.
Warrenville boasts a student population of 2,000 with a comfortable student ratio of 15:1. It ranks slightly higher than Wheaton North, placed at #36th best high school in Illinois.
Warrenville competes in the DuKane Conference.
Glenbard South High School
This high school is located just outside the city of Wheaton, in the neighboring suburb of Glen Ellyn. It serves students in Southeast Wheaton who do attend Wheaton Warrenville.
Although Glenbard is the largest of the three schools, it also has the highest student spending. It has 2344 students, with a 17:1 teacher ratio.
Participation in athletics at Glenbard is very high, and supportive parents pack out the events. Glenbard High School is rated the third best school in DuPage County by niche.com.
Wheaton College is an evangelical liberal arts college located in Wheaton IL. It is sometimes referred to as the Harvard of Christian Schools — though its students like to jest that Harvard is actually the Wheaton of Secular schools.
Wheaton College was founded by an evangelical abolitionist in 1853. The college has a historical connection to Lincoln’s Republican party and abolitionism. It was the first college in the state to graduate an African American student, in 1866.
The college is still considered one of the best evangelical colleges in America. The college is a model for evangelicals, providing equal pursuit of faith and learning.
Today the college is considered one of the very best evangelical colleges in the country with over 3,000 enrollees. Wheaton College is a model for Evangelicals in many ways where, it says, "the pursuit of faith and learning is taken seriously." Wheaton college is often considered “the Harvard of the Christian schools.
Bring the outdoors into everyday life
DOES WHEATON HAVE A GOOD PARK DISTRICT?
For those wondering about Wheaton’s green spaces — this isn’t just any old park district... It’s a national four-time gold-medal-winning park district! This makes it an excellent place for anyone who loves to get outside and surround themselves with greenery.
Wheaton has 47 different parks; so no matter where you live, there’s always somewhere to explore. From sports fields to trails, to woodlands and manicured gardens, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors in Wheaton.
Herrick Lake Forest Preserve
The preserve features stunning views over watery vistas and over 7 miles of trails weaving through the Danada Forest Preserve. Locals enjoy the trails, picnic spots, and fishing.
The trails are full of surprises, with woodlands, wetlands, prairies, lakes, and undulating hills. With such varied habitats, it’s no surprise that the preserve is teeming with wildlife — with over 254 species of birds, fish, insects, and mammals to spot, among 470 different plants. The preserve is also home to many majestic white, red, and bur oaks, some of which are over 150-years old. Bring some binoculars to spot woodpeckers, squirrels, and owls among the branches!
Although the Herrick Lake Forest Preserve is certainly special, you won’t need a special occasion to visit. The preserve is on the Southside of Wheaton, making it the perfect place to go for a run or walk the dogs for Southside residents.
Danada Forest Preserve and Equestrian Center
The Danada Forest Preserve is 797-acres of rolling woodlands, wetlands, and prairies. It is also home to the Danada Equestrian Center, which offers riding lessons, riding camps, tours, and educational experiences all around the year (outside of COVID-19).
As little as 100 years ago, this preserve was a farm, with apple orchards, wheatfields, and cornfields. In 1943 it became a stable owned by Dan and Ada L. Rice. It began with eight thoroughbred horses that Dan bought as a gift to his wife, who was a budding horse racing enthusiast.
The design of the stables itself was modeled“Kentucky-style”, with center stalls enclosed by an inside aisle. This allowed trainers to exercise the horses even in the worst possible weather conditions, perhaps accounting for successes born from the Rice Stables.
Their stables reared and trained many champions, including the Lucky Debonair. Lucky Debonaire was a bay colt who broke the wire in a neck-to-neck race for a $112,000 Kentucky Derby purse.
Lincoln Marsh Natural Area
Lincoln Marsh’s mission is to “increase awareness and appreciation for our connections to the earth and to each other.” This local gem continues to breathe life into its community year upon year, providing both recreation and educational programs for adventurous spirits of all ages.
This peaceful oasis offers one hundred and fifty acres of woodlands and prairies, giving Wheaton’s community an easy escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
The marsh is open from dawn till dusk. If you’re visiting towards the tail end of the day, be sure to bring your camera in case you spot any of the marsh’s most beautiful residents; the red fox, the coyotes or white-tailed deer.
The natural integrity of the area is impressive, despite its urban setting. Prairies, woodlands, and savannas surround open water marsh areas that dot the landscape. The Illinois Prairie Path meanders through the conservation, with the trail taking around 30 minutes to complete.
This small and friendly local zoo is the perfect family day out. It’s home to both native American wildlife and domestic barnyard animals, including majestic red foxes, adorable miniature donkeys and plenty of creepy crawlies such as snakes and frogs.
What makes Cosley Zoo so special is the opportunity to get behind the scenes and learn more about caring for the animals. Any budding young vets and animal lovers will adore the opportunity to feed and groom the barnyard animals or train bobcats and coyotes.
Cantigny Park and Golf Course
Cantigny Park is one of the most iconic parks in the Chicago land area, with stunning manicured gardens that are guaranteed to impress at any time of year. The seasonally curated displays are truly gorgeous to stroll around. There are also two museums and a golf course, making it a perfect day out for all the family.
Cantigny Park is a hive of activity for Wheaton’s many cultural events. It hosts concerts, lectures, workshops, festivals, and events all through the year, giving you plenty of opportunities to visit this beautiful location.
Cantigny Park was originally the home of Joseph Medill, a co-owner of the Chicago Tribune. The home was passed through the generations and was the last home of Robert R. McCormick, Joseph Medil’s Grandson. He served as a colonel in World War I, of which the Cantigny battle was the first American victory. After his death, he donated the mansion and all 500 acres as a public place for education and recreation.
Today the mansion where he once lived is a museum displaying all manner of WWI and WWII artifacts. There is also a large collection oftanks and artillery pieces, known as "Tank Park''. Generously, visitors are allowed to climb on the vehicles — making the display a guaranteed delight for the little ones.
Cantigny Park is also home to the Best New Public Course in America, according to Golf Digest. Cantigny Golf Course hosts numerous State Championships and Amateur Championships, including two Chicago Opens in 2013 and 2014. When you’re done out on the course, you can relax in the full-service clubhouse.
Arrowhead Golf Club
Arrowhead Golf Club is located just off Butterfield Rd, just west of the Danada Preserve. It takes its name from the many Indian artifacts found during its construction in the 1920s.
Arrowhead Golf Club is well known for its challenging but beautifully scaped courses. The club has 27 holes —17 of which have water features — and 77 strategically placed bunkers.
In 1982 the Wheaton Park District purchased the property from the Jansen family in order to “preserve 221 acres of open space, and to serve as a major recreational area for the community.” Since then, the district has continued to update the course, adding hundreds of trees to provide shade, wildlife and variety to Arrowhead.
Chicago Golf Club
Wheaton is the home of exceptional golf clubs, and the Chicago Golf Club is one of them. It’s a private club, with 18 holes and spectacular views. Not only was it one of the five founding clubs of the US Golf Association, but it joined the National Register of Historic Places in 2020.
The prestigious club has hosted several prominent events, including multiple U.S. Opens and Walker Cups. It was founded by renowned course designer and World Golf Hall of Fame member Charles B. Macdonald. In July 2018, the club hosted the inaugural U.S. Senior Women's Open, the newly created 14th USGA national championship.
With only 100 members, an invitation to the Chicago Golf Club is much coveted among golfers.
Be a winner in a competitive market
WHAT IS THE REAL ESTATE LIKE IN WHEATON?
A drive through the Wheaton suburbs will quickly reveal an exciting variety of characterful homes to choose from, including Victorian-style, cottages, and four squares. With eclectic architecture being a hallmark of Wheaton's real estate, you can find many new construction homes too.
Wheaton, Illinois Market Report
Includes average property values, inventory, market changes, and demographic data.Homes for sale in Wheaton
The market also boasts a large inventory of entry-level homes, perfect for young families and millennials looking for a little more square footage than the inner city.
Wheaton is often considered the best choice for middle-income households that find education to be their top priority. As of May 2022, the median list price for Wheaton, IL is $599,900 with the market action index hovering around 52. This is less than last month's market action index of 54. Inventory has increased to 71.
The highest sales prices are in Muirfield, with an average price of $975,000. Briarcliffe was the most popular, with 49 sales in the last year.
As with most of Western Chicago suburbs, Wheaton saw a rapid expansion from the 1950s. That growth has slowed since the 1990s, letting the population rest at a comfortable 53,000.
Downtown businesses — having slowed down in the 90s — have bubbled up again in the last decade. Several significant condominiums and businesses have been developed, including the Wheaton Center. One of the city’s most recognizable landscapes, the 758-unit apartment complex covers 14 acres in the downtown area.
Two of the most popular subdivisions in Wheaton are Briarcliffe and Amberwood.
Briarcliffe, Wheaton, Illinois
The tranquil neighborhood of Briarcliff is made up of townhouses and single-family homes. They were built in the 1970s and 80s just north of Butterfield Road and west of Lambert. At the moment, there are 26 homes for sale in Briarcliffe, with prices ranging from $185,000 to $436,000. Briarcliffe is a leafy suburb, with tall trees stretching over the streets to bring stillness and shade.
Amberwood Estates, Wheaton, Illinois
Amberwood Estates is a neighborhood of elegant custom homes built by Keim Corporation, beginning in 2012. The estate is on the Landon Circle, found on the west side Orchard Road between Roosevelt Road and Butterfield Road. Homes here range from $400,000- $850,000.
Enjoy fantastic food on every corner
WHAT ARE THE BEST PLACES TO EAT IN WHEATON?
With over 100 places to eat out in Wheaton, you’re spoilt for choice. Unlike some other suburbs, there’s no need to head all the way into Chicago to get something creative and tasty to eat.
Over the last year, Wheaton’s residents have shown that there’s substance to their community values, with a renewed emphasis on the importance of eating local.
The Ivy is a sublime setting to enjoy a delicious meal. Housed in an old chapel with spectacular stained-glass windows and high ceilings, the atmosphere is best described as peaceful and serene. During COVID-19, the Ivy is also offering outdoor seating on the patio. You can hire the outdoor igloo, or sit close to the fire pits to keep cozy. The Ivy is committed to being part of the local community, sourcing much of their ingredients from Chicago farmers and the local French market. The menu offers generous choices of modern takes on American chophouse.
Insider tip: Have your phone at the ready, because whatever you order will not only be delicious, but highly instagrammable.
GIA MIA Wheaton
In just three years, GIA MIA has climbed to number one of all Wheaton’s Italian eateries. The small but accomplished restaurant can be found on North Hale Street. The interior features wood-paneled floors, exposed brick walls, and a white marble-topped bar. They serve elevated modern Italian fare; think small plates for sharing, wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizzas, and exquisite wine pairings.
Insider tip: Kick off your meal with the ricotta and honeycomb — a cloud of creamy ricotta and oozing golden honey served alongside sourdough.
The Burger Social
This burger joint down on North Hale Street is equal parts tasty and trendy. The interior is industrial and chic, and has a sliding front panel to open up the restaurant in the warmer months. Despite the name — Burger Social — the restaurant has adapted well to COVID restrictions and offers plenty of options for dining including an outdoor tent.
Insider tip: Try the mole burger. It really works!
Adelle's Fine American Fare
As the name suggests, Adelle’s is serving up American bistro classics cooked to perfection. You’ll find dishes such as parma salmon, caesar salad, bolognese, meatloaf, and a children’s menu too. Everything here is made from scratch. Adelle’s particularly stands out for its wonderful servers, who do everything they can to make their guests feel cared for.
Insider’s tip: The chef’s special is usually a risotto — if ever risotto strikes you as a boring choice, Adelle’s might just prove you wrong.
Good Italian food is Wheaton’s specialty, and Il Sogno is no exception to the rule. The covered outdoor rooftop dining looks out over the downtown area, making it the perfect spot to watch the sun setting while enjoying a special meal.
Insider’s tip: Their rice ball starter is the stuff of legends.
Pa Lian Burmese Restaurant
Rated #1 of Wheaton’s 12 different Asian restaurants, Pa Lian is a must try. Every dish packs in the unusual flavors of Myanmar (burma), and you’re likely to try several things you’ve never even heard of. Pa Lien is on the North Side of Wheaton towards the downtown Carol Stream area.
Insider’s tip: If you want to taste a truly unique dish, try the tea leaves salad! It sounds unusual but it tastes delicious.
Mark your calendar with family fun
WHAT YEARLY EVENTS DOES WHEATON HOST?
The Downtown Wheaton Association makes sure that locals of all ages are never bored. They host events throughout the year to celebrate traditional holidays and showcase the best and brightest of Wheaton’s local businesses. The French Market takes place every Saturday, showcasing a veritable feast of fresh regional and national produce.
Other Wheaton events build up anticipation the year-round, such as The Chili Cook-Off, The Vintage Rides car show, Boo-palooza (Wheaton’s Trick-or-treat), A Dickens of A Christmas, the Wheaton Wedding Walk, and the Wheaton Wine & Cultural Arts Festival.
Go downtown and shop til’ you drop
WHAT IS THERE TO DO IN DOWNTOWN WHEATON?
Besides being fantastic for foodies, Downtown Wheaton has no end of boutique businesses, local gems, and fashion retail outlets to delight every kind of downtown stroller.
The Little Popcorn Store
You can find the tiniest popcorn store you’ve ever seen on Front Street, downtown Wheaton. What was once an alleyway has been transformed into a bright red candy store since the 1920s, and the walls still feature the exposed brick of the neighboring buildings.
Capturing the spirit of the good old days, you can pick up candy here for just 2 cents apiece. Residents regularly drop by this local gem to buy fresh, buttery popcorn by the bagful.
The Town Square Shopping Center
Town Square offers a one-stop-shop, with lots of great places to eat and even more places to shop, from cute boutiques to fashion retail favorites like Banana Republic and White House Black Market. Shop til’ you drop, then put some tasty fuel in the tank at The Noodle Company or the Egg’lectic Cafe.
Danada Square Shopping Centers
There are two Danada Squares shopping centers, which can be found east and west sides of Naperville Road.
Danada Square West is where you’ll find Chilli’s Bar & Grill, TJ Maxx, and Jewel Osco.
Head east to the other Danada square to visit PNC, Starbucks, Petco, Wholefoods or Five Guys.
Rice Lake Square
Next door to Danada Square East is Rice Lake Square, where you can find Stein Mart, PetSmart, and Sport Authority. . Locals love the Pete’s Grocery Store and the new movie theatre, which has nine screens and restaurant-to-seat dining.
Live in a place with historical family roots
WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF WHEATON, IL?
In 1837, a young schoolteacher named Warren Wheaton left his hometown in Pomfret in search of the promised prairie land in Chicago.
He traveled by train, canal boat and steamer, and completed the last 30 miles by foot. He arrived at the mill of Erastus Gary, just several miles west of present-day Wheaton. Just a few months later, he was joined by his brother, Jesse Wheaton.
Together, the Wheaton brothers staked claims on the land that would become Wheaton as we know it today. Warren’s claim was at the present-day intersection of Naperville Rd and IL Rte. 38, whereas Jesse’s staked his claim on 300 acres along the west of Warrenville.
After the brothers gave right-of-way to the railroad in 1848, the depot was officially named the Wheaton Depot. When the brothers secured the railroad, they secured the future of their town. A community of settlers gathered around the station, and the brothers gave lots away to anyone with the chutzpah to begin building upon the land. When Warren donated some land to the Illinois Institute, they renamed it the Wheaton College as a gesture of gratitude.
By 1858, Warren Wheaton became the first village president of the small town of Wheaton, home to around 700 settlers. The growing town soon became a city and Erastus Gary’s son became the first mayor.
You can still see the prairie homes built by Warren and Jesse Wheaton today. Jesse Wheaton’s house stands at 310 Evergreen St after undergoing loving restoration from new owners in 2012.
The Warren homestead technically still stands too, though heavy renovations mean that it is no longer considered a historic building. Today, it is the Bauer Dentistry Center. If ever you happen to pay a visit, you can see the original brickwork through peepholes in the wall.
Another notable part of Wheaton’s history is its extraordinarily long prohibition status. Wheaton was a dry city from 1887 until 1985, partly owing to the large evangelical Christian population.
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