Living In Clarendon Hills-[ 2022] Everything you need to know
If you close your eyes and imagine a utopian place to live, you might picture somewhere like Clarendon Hills, Illinois. Leafy green, outdoorsy, clean, safe, quiet, and friendly — this village is the Eden of suburban life.
Clarendon Hills is often overshadowed by its big sister Hinsdale, just to the east, but they also have a lot of good things in common. Clarendon Hills contributed to and benefits from the superb school system and because of its size, it is a much tighter niche community.
This cozy village is less than 2 miles square and only about 8,785 residents call this place home. Clarendon Hills is conveniently located between both major airports and is only 18 miles from Downtown Chicago. Clarendon Hills is on the BNSF line so residents can hop aboard and be in Chicago in under 40 minutes.
In 2020 alone, Clarendon Hills earned some of the most prestigious awards to its name, including:
- Best Place to Live in Illinois
- Best Suburb to Live in Illinois
- Ranked #2 in Best Place to Raise a Family in Illinois, and
- #7 in Best Places to Live in America by Niche.com.
Many towns claim to be community-oriented, but could you believe all of Clarendon Hills’ village parks, fire department, and the public library are run extensively by volunteers? Unsurprisingly, the town has been nicknamed ‘The Volunteer Community.’ Though it might not be the most catchy name ever invented, it is astoundingly accurate.
The charming Clarendon Hills is our #1 Best Chicago Suburbs of 2022. But what is it about the charm of Clarendon Hills that brings so many people together?
History: Live In A Village Designed For Happiness
What is the history of Clarendon Hills?
The village of Clarendon Hills dates back to the early 1800s, but most of the village took shape after the train first rolled through the village in the 1860s. The president of the railroad was charmed by Clarendon and bought everything South of the railroad tracks.
In these early days, Clarendon’s spirit of volunteerism laid the foundations of the village, with almost all of the village services being run by volunteers — from then until now.
As the foundations were laid, Frederick Law Olmsted (a famous landscape architect) is said to have influenced the design of Clarendon Hills’ most unique features: its curved streets.
Instead of plotting the land in a dull grid-style, the village streets are uniquely organic: they follow the contours of the surrounding terrain. The winding roads give many plots different, interesting shapes – and very few are the same in the downtown area.
It was at a time when urban living in America was just beginning. Cities and large urban areas hadn’t existed on such a large scale before so, naturally, people were somewhat frightened of the future. They worried about problems like pollution, large populations, and crime. Frederick Law Olmsted in particular was driven to finding ways to make urban living sustainable through architecture.
Olmstead believed that every place has a unique spirit and ecology. By planning designs to follow the lay of the land, he wanted to help people relate to the original landscapes, promoting unconscious relaxation and connection.
Although it is debated whether he drew up the plans for the village himself, the flowing infrastructure embodies his unmistakable style and values. Given the ethos and atmosphere of Clarendon Hills today, some might say his ideas came true.
Schools: Be Blessed With The Very Best Education
Does Clarendon Hills Have Good Schools?
Many things make Clarendon Hills a wonderful place to raise a family. One of them being that every child here can have an outstanding education. The village is part of two of the most highly rated school districts in Illinois, School District 181 and High School District 86.
Elementary and Middle Schools
Elementary-age children in Clarendon Hills can choose from two schools before everyone comes together at Clarendon Middle School. There is also the option of Notre Dame Parish School, an elementary school for Catholic students.
Walker Elementary School is located south of the train station and serves children in grades K-5. It has 286 students with a student-teacher ratio of 12 to 1. Walker Elementary School is rated an impressive 10/10 in many rankings.
Prospect Elementary Schools is located north of the train station. The school was recently built and serves children local to the area. The school has 406 students in grades K-5 with a student-teacher ratio of 13 to 1. Prospect Elementary is now rated 10 out of 10 in many rankings. The school takes its name from the Park just next door, which is the perfect place for pupils to blow off some steam on the way home.
Clarendon Hills Middle School is also next to Prospect Park but borders Chicago Ave. It was recently rebuilt and houses 584 students in grades 6-8 with a student-teacher ratio of 13 to 1. In keeping with both primary schools, Clarendon Hills Middle School scores a solid 10/10 on most rankings.
High School District 86
Hinsdale Central (or simply ‘Central’) serves Clarendon Hills and is currently ranked 6th in the Best High Schools in Illinois. It has 2,728 students in grades 9-12 with a student-teacher ratio of 13 to 1. Central is rated A+ by Niche.com and is rated 10 out of 10 in many rankings.
Real Estate: Moving Into A Magnificent Market
What is real estate like in Clarendon Hills?
Clarendon Hills has a long history of progressive architecture, so the village boasts a wide variety of beautiful homes. You can find more than one early-1900s home constructed by the architect R. Harold Zook. As much an artist as a home designer, his architecture has a flair for fantasy, with motifs including spider web designs, scalloped wood, and chevrons. Many of his homes have a striking resemblance to those built-in Hinsdale.
You will also find many ranches, craftsmen’s homes, and Sears kit homes scattered throughout the village. These cookie-cutter catalog homes are a quintessential staple of Chicago’s historical suburban real-estate. Sears, Roebuck & Co was founded in Chicago, and the development of the Chicago and Quincy mainland rail saw these DIY flat-pack assembly homes rolled out to the rapidly growing suburbs.
In the early 2000s, the village also experienced the ‘tear-down’ phenomenon and subsequently lost approximately 25% of the village’s older homes. However, you are still likely to find many older homes standing today.
Clarendon Hills is a beautiful suburb, well-connected to Chicago and with great school systems. Naturally, it attracts many affluent young professionals to invest in new homes here. Clarendon Hills’ new builds start from the early 2000s and the village now also offers much newer luxury builds for those looking to settle.
The median home value in Clarendon Hills, as of September 2022, is $505,000, but there is a wide variety of homes here from $400,000 + to luxury housing over $1 million.
Clarendon Hills, Illinois Market Report
Includes average property values, inventory, market changes, and demographic data.Homes for Sale in Clarendon Hills
PROSPECTS: INVEST IN A VILLAGE THAT KEEPS ON BLOSSOMING
Is Clarendon Hills a good place to invest?
In November of 2010, the Village agreed with Infiniti of Clarendon Hills to develop the northernmost part of the Village, along Ogden Avenue.
Although the village is relatively small, Ogden Ave receives about 30,000 in vehicular traffic. All the more impressive when you remember that Ogden Ave was once just a small American Indian trail. Indigenous and French fur traders would make the journey between Dearborn and Lisle by foot or horse and carriage.
Skip forward to this bustling thoroughfare today, where instead of horse and carriage hires, you’ll find the Infiniti car dealership. Infiniti keeps in touch with locals in more ways than one, including hosting this year’s virtual Dancin’ in the Streets event. The Infiniti TIF agreement was projected to enhance the tax base for the city and to enhance the development of adjacent areas. As of March 2020, the village board also approved a TIF for downtown Clarendon, to support the future development of the businesses there.
Green Spaces: Have Illinois Natural Wonders At Your Doorstep
This is a park whose prospects turned out a little different than planned. In 1922, Arthur McIntosh bought the land and began selling off plots for development. As the development progressed, McIntosh made a terrible discovery – lurking underneath the surface were peat bogs.
Peat bogs are wetlands with poor drainage. For a soggy piece of land, there’s an unexpected consequence; they tend to catch fire. The bogs take thousands of years to form, trapping carbon up to 60ft deep. The carbon can ignite, causing long-smoldering fires that are infamously hard to put out.
The McIntosh bogs caught fire over and over, which was a disaster for the development. McIntosh did the right thing and bought the land back.
Eventually, the fires burnt themselves out and the land was turned into a gathering place for picnics, fishing, fireworks, and playing — now known as Prospect Park.
Although it was a tragedy at the time, locals today are glad to have the park instead. And rest assured, residents need not worry about catching fire while out for a stroll. There hasn’t been a fire on the land since the 1940s when the plots were filled with heavy clay.
Today, you can also find Clarendon Hills Middle School and Prospect Elementary at the park. It has a playground, a pair of baseball diamonds, and two beautifully-landscaped swampy ponds.
Watch this space because wonderful things are coming to Hosek Park as of Spring, 2021. A natural restoration project will see the turf on the west side of the park replaced with a colorful sea of wildflowers native to Illinois. This three-year project will eliminate bogginess and bring back the bees, birds, and other native wildlife for all to enjoy.
The park is lined with residential single-family homes and offers a playground, basketball court, and two tennis courts. Just one block away from the park is Walker Elementary School and the train station.
When the Hinsdale Golf Club registered in Illinois in 1898, the cost of membership was only $10, plus $10 annually for dues. The course was originally just a 6-hole golf course that later expanded to the 18 holes today. The expansion took the boundaries beyond Hinsdale limits into its neighbor, Clarendon Hills.
In 1920 and 1922, two enormous fires ravaged the landscape of the club, and on both occasions, the clubhouse was tragically burned to the ground. In 1923, after the fires, a much grander, more permanent clubhouse rose from the ashes and still stands to this day.
The fires weren't all bad news, because the new golf club was embellished with a swimming pool and tennis courts. The golf course today is a staple in the community of Clarendon Hills. It’s lined by Ogden Ave, the Middle School, and beautiful residential housing.
A short drive past neighboring cities Westmont and Darien will bring Clarendon Hills residents straight to the epic beauty of the Waterfall Glenn Forest Preserve.
Arguably the most breathtaking place of natural beauty in DuPage county, the preserve is famed for the rocky mill waterfall, sawmill creek bluff, and 11-miles of gently rolling trails. It can be explored on foot, by bike, on horseback, or even on skis.
Events: Feel The Difference A Community Can Make
Do you ever hear the words ‘volunteer-run’, and secretly worry that it could mean ‘underfunded’, ‘disorganized’, or even ‘underwhelming’?
Not in Clarendon Hills. Their community events are spectacular, and truly stand out from the regular affair.
The village’s yearly summer festival is named Daisy Days, after a beautiful accident that happened back in prairie days. The landowner thought they were sowing new grass but had unknowingly bought daisy seeds. You can imagine their surprise when spring brought millions of daisies to the prairies. The sight was so beautiful that it still holds significance today.
Clarendon Hills Daisy Days Festival is held in June for a whole weekend. Hop aboard a giant strawberry known as the berry-go-round, enjoy live music and enormous icecreams, take the little ones to get their faces painted, bid on a bike at the bicycle auction and be sure not to miss the Daisy Days’ inaugural singing talent competition. And if all that doesn’t sound thrilling enough, you can always visit the Reptile Guy to hold a giant snake.
Dancin’ in the Streets
Dancin’ in the Streets is an eight-week concert series for all ages during the summer months. Block parties happen every Wednesday with live concerts. This ten-year-old tradition further promotes community cohesion – and is also run entirely by volunteers and sponsors. Though the event couldn’t go ahead in 2020, the community took it virtual. The live-streamed performances combined Clarendon’s talent with shoutouts to local friends, families, and neighbours, showing that this community keeps connected no matter what.
Luminaria is one of the oldest traditions in the town.
Each Christmas Eve, almost everyone in the village lights a candle inside a sand-filled paper bag to leave outside their home. As the streets glow up with the light of thousands of candles, Clarendon Hills reminds us that all it takes to light up a community is a small gesture from each and every one.
This moving tradition comes from Mexico but was brought to the town in 1965 by The Infant Welfare Society to fund a health clinic in Chicago for mothers and children.
Today, neighbors from far and near the cruise village streets on Christmas eve to admire this glimmer of magic at a wonderful time of year.
The Christmas Walk
Clarendon Hill’s Christmas walk is one of the oldest in DuPage county. It began as an outdoor Christmas market, where Santa’s little helpers could fill up stockings ready for the morning.
Today, the walk is organized by the park district and Chamber of Commerce as a gesture to show their sincere appreciation for the wonderful community that has always supported them.
The stalls give out chocolate cookies, hot cocoa, and apple cider while carolers fill the village hall with yuletide cheer. Then, everyone comes outside for the lighting of the Christmas tree, to complement the impressive ice sculpture, and of course, to celebrate in style with live music.
Food and Dining: Savor The Local Scene
What to do in downtown Clarendon Hills?
Clarendon Hills has a small but cheerful downtown area with around 15 locally-owned restaurants and retailers, plus several of your staple chains. What’s more, there’s a huge push for investment in the downtown area, which means that it is only going to get better in time to come.
The board just approved a TIF scheme to encourage investment in local business, as well as boosting the metra station redevelopment grant from $1.75 million to $3.75 million. Great things are underway already, with the village’s first distillery receiving a grant to open in 2021. But in the meantime, there’s plenty of wonderful establishments to enjoy
Talley’s Kitchen + Bar is located at 31 S Prospect Ave in Downtown Clarendon Hills. Talley’s has some of the most modern American food you can find around the suburbs.
It is owned and run by Krista Talley, a former elementary teacher that found her passion for food after her father passed away. Krista puts a bold twist on her menu with dishes like Guinness-baked onion soup and lobster gnocchi. Talley’s is a cozy place to sit, have a glass of wine, and — in Krista’s own words — “be the place you can create your most cherished memories”.
Inside tip: Whatever the topping, you’re bound to be impressed by the gnocchi.
Brama la Pizza (or ‘Crave the Pizza”) is located in the heart of downtown Clarendon Hills.
Wife and husband Tess and Angelo are behind this local pizza joint where you can buy by the slice. They met at a pizza parlor when Tess was a student and Angelo a pizza-maker. They fell in love at first bite. Brama La Pizza also offers thin, stuffed, and pan pizzas, which come with the warning of heavy late-night cravings. The staff are a delight and I am yet to have a pizza there that I don’t like!
Insider tip: Get anything with their marinara sauce on it — it’s delicious.
This is a cute little café that offers fresh soups, sandwiches, meats, cheeses, and more. This neighborhood bright spot is owned and operated by the Howe Family. Wendy & Michael Howe, along with their two children, help run the café. They have the highest ratings no matter where you choose to look, which guarantees you won’t be disappointed!
Insider tip: This cafe is a popular choice for locally catered events, so if ever you’re celebrating, check them out.
At 9 South Prospect Avenue sits a kid favorite ‘The Daily Scoop’. The Daily Scoop has been fulfilling sweet tooths and putting smiles on children’s faces since 2002. The neighborhood ice cream shop offers seasonal ice cream flavors, cookies, cotton candy, frozen yogurts, and more.
Insider tip: The hot fudge sundae will melt your heart!
Posted by Rafael Velasco on