Living in Glen Ellyn-Experience the Best of Both Worlds
For anyone considering buying a home in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, this village can be neatly summed up in 5 words: ‘The best of both worlds. At just 6.93 square miles it has the close-knit feel you would expect in a village of this size, yet its residents enjoy all the amenities of the big city. It boasts vibrant retail, entertainment, arts, and hospitality, side by side with no less than 29 parks, a wildlife center, and the beautiful Lake Ellyn.
It is a place that proudly preserves its historical roots, as seen in the Main Street Historic District while embracing ambitious and sustainable development for the benefit of the whole community. The people of Glen Ellyn take full advantage of the economic, educational, and aspirational opportunities here and embrace the caring, inclusive, community-spirited ethos that earned the town its nickname: The Village Of Volunteers.
Located centrally in DuPage County, Glen Ellyn sits a mere 23 miles west of Chicago with easy access to the Windy City by rail or road. The 27,000 residents who make up this warm, friendly community will make you feel right at home.
The History Makers Of Glen Ellyn
This scenic slice of Illinois was first settled back in 1833 when 3 brothers claimed the land on the north side of what is now Glen Ellyn. As was common in those days, they made their claim clear to all by giving the land their family name and so Babcock’s Grove was born.
In the following years, more settlers made their way from New England, and the community soon established itself by coming together to build a log cabin schoolhouse for their growing families. Although this first public building is long gone, the roadside tavern and stagecoach inn that was built by the Stacy family in 1846 survives to this day as the authentically restored, award-winning Stacy’s Tavern Museum, run by the Glen Ellyn Historical Society.
A pivotal point in the development of Glen Ellyn came with the arrival of Dr. Lewey Newton and his decision in 1848 to allow the railroad to be built through his land, just south of the existing community. In an early example of the kind of generosity of spirit that Glen Ellyn is known for, Newton used his own money to build the station that welcomed its first train in 1849 and the development of Glen Ellyn’s new downtown was soon underway.
When Professor Thomas E. Hill stepped off the train with his wife Ellen some 36 years later, he saw a village with huge potential despite its somewhat shabby reputation. Hill was already a well-respected figure in publishing and public service and he was soon elected village president, where he earned the respect of the locals, giving him the chance to realize his dream of creating an upmarket resort amidst the rolling hills, woods, and natural springs of his new home. He was sure it would appeal to the wealthy citizens of Chicago who could reach it by train in under an hour.
He made the inspired decision to dam a strategically sited creek and the result was a stunning 50-acre lake which he named Lake Glen Ellyn (after the Welsh spelling of his wife Ellen’s name). He then chose the perfect spot for his hotel atop a hill with views out over the lake. Then came the ‘piece de resistance, a pretty pavilion surrounding natural springs that had miraculous healing powers...or so the clever advertising went!
The success of the resort transformed the image of the village and the snowball effect of the ensuing gentrification resulted in a neighborhood filled with desirable Victorian-style homes. Little wonder that the town decided to adopt a new name in appreciation of his efforts and so it was that Glen Ellyn became the official village name in 1891.
Schools in Glen Ellyn: From A Cabin To A Castle
Are schools in Glen Ellyn good?
To put it one way, Glen Ellyn has come a long way since the building of that first log cabin school and education remains at the heart of this community. As a whole, niche.com ranks the village A+ for public schools, which certainly plays a part in its ranking as the 4th best place to raise a family in DuPage County.
Families have a choice of 7 elementary schools which come under Glen Ellyn School District 41 and Community Consolidated School District 89. Schools in both districts are rated high academically with a commitment to family involvement. Benjamin Franklin Elementary School and Churchill Elementary are the most popular.
Glen Ellyn is served by 2 middle schools. Both Glen Crest Middle School and Hadley Junior High School are highly rated public schools with Hadley being the larger of the 2, serving 1,157 students to Glen Crest’s 684. Both schools have a student-teacher ratio of 15-1.
Its two public high schools are part of Glenbard Township High School District 87 serving Glen Ellyn and neighboring Wheaton and Lombard.
Glenbard West High School was built in 1922 of handsome red brick in the style of a castle, complete with turrets, on Honeysuckle Hill overlooking Lake Ellyn. It continues to live up to this grand design, ranking consistently well among state high schools. It is attended by 2,344 students north of Route 38, with a student-teacher ratio of 17-1.
Niche.com gives it a rating of A+ and ranks it #19 of 700 best high schools in Illinois. Student-athletes excel at Glenbard West; it ranks #2 of 1,037 best high schools for athletes in the State, reflecting the excellent sports facilities on offer at the school.
The smaller Glenbard South high school was built more recently in 1972 and serves students south of Route 38. It currently has 1,164 students with a student-teacher ratio of 17 to 1. According to state test scores, 50% of students are at least proficient in math and 48% in reading. It has established a very good reputation in a relatively short time, gaining an overall A grade rating from niche.com who ranks it as #75 best high school in the State and ‘the perfect high school for those looking for a smaller school population combined with outstanding academic instruction.’
In addition, there are 5 private schools in Glen Ellyn, comprising 2 Montessoris, 2 Catholic schools, and 1 school for children who are deaf/blind.,
Glen Ellyn is also home to the main campus of the College of DuPage, one of the biggest community colleges in the country and home to the renowned McAninch Arts Centre.
Glen Ellyn, Illinois Market Report
Includes average property values, inventory, market changes, and demographic data.Homes for sale in Glen Ellyn
Community events: Get To Know The Locals
What is there to do in Glen Ellyn?
Many of Glen Ellyn’s newly arrived residents head to the Glen Ellyn History Center and the nearby Stacy’s Tavern Museum in North Glen Ellyn to learn more about the history of the place. But what they don’t expect to find there is a vibrant hub of community activities and events such as book discussion groups, vintage automobile shows, book sales, markets, quilt shows, antique fairs, historical re-enactment days, and a host of guest speakers covering a wide array of topics. New faces are warmly welcomed and it is a great way to make new friends in your new home.
Arts and Culture: It’s Always Showtime In Glen Ellyn
If the Arts are your thing then you will be spoiled for choice here in Glen Ellyn. Head over to the fantastic McAninch Arts Center at the College DuPage campus to the west of Park Boulevard and you will find no less than 6 different venues showcasing world-class theatre, dance, music, and comedy.
Affectionately known as the MAC, this cultural hotspot runs a packed calendar of events and it is clear that the staff here love what they do, greeting visitors with that magical mix of warmth and professionalism that guarantees visitors a great time. Especially popular is the stunning Lakeside Pavillion which hosts free outdoor entertainment events all Summer long.
On the west side of the MAC, you will find the renowned Cleve Carney Museum of Art which combines an eclectic permanent collection with their hugely popular Visiting Artist Series. This series epitomizes the community spirit of Glen Ellyn, allowing participants to engage with inspiring artists through workshops and free lectures.
As if all that wasn’t enough, the MAC is also home to the New Philharmonic, winner of the 2020 Illinois Council of Orchestra’s Programming of the Year Award.
Performing everything from ballets and operas to show tunes and classic American songbook favorites, this immensely talented orchestra is not to be missed.
When you are planning a visit to the MAC, be sure to take advantage of the great food and drink deals and discounts on offer from their many restaurant partners in Glen Ellyn. They make it easy for you by providing coupons with all ticket sales.
Places to go: A Downtown With Heart And Soul
Does Glen Ellyn have a downtown?
Boy, does it! The Alliance of Downtown Glen Ellyn is another example of the community spirit to be found here. It was formed in 2006 when the Village of Glen Ellyn joined forces with the Economic Development Corporation, the Central Business District Retail Merchants, and the Chamber of Commerce to promote the downtown area, support independent businesses and draw in visitors from near and far.
Members of the ADGE work tirelessly to ensure this pedestrian-friendly destination is the perfect place for a family day out browsing the many independent stores, sampling the delights of the eclectic mix of dining establishments, and enjoying a year-round calendar of unmissable events.
Moviegoers in Glen Ellyn also head downtown to The Glen Art Theatre on Crescent Blvd, east of Main St. This much-loved movie theater was built in the 1920s and retains much of the charm of that golden age of cinema. This is a great place to see independent movies as well as mainstream first-run releases.
Just to the south along Roosevelt Rd area, you will find vibrant shopping plazas with coffee shops, bakeries, cafes, and restaurants offering a wide array of choices including burritos, pizzas, sandwiches, noodles plus all the best known fast-food chains.
Wandering through the beautiful, historic downtown area with its quaint, charming architecture and cute independent stores is a lovely, relaxing way to spend a day. The character and diversity of the boutiques, jewelry stores, vintage shops, florists, craft outlets, book stores, specialty food shops, craft beer and wine merchants, interior design outlets, antique shops, and bridal boutiques bring visitors from miles around. There are some true standout gems here that really catch the eye. Here are just a few.
What to do in downtown Glen Ellyn?
There’s so much to be discovered in this lively village, but let’s take a look at some of our favorite shops to stop by.
A Different Box Of Crayons
Has there ever been a better name for a business? I’ll bet it made you stop and look, didn’t it? Owner, founder, and talented designer Lynn Schmitt has rewritten the book on the age-old craft of quilting and the fabrics. The designs on display in this beautiful store are simply stunning. If you’re looking for quilting materials or textiles for just about any sewing project, this is the place to go. Lynn is a wealth of knowledge, adored by first-time visitors and devoted regulars alike. If you have ever wanted to try your hand at this historic craft, sign up for one of Lynn’s classes and she will pass on her wealth of knowledge with warmth and passion.
The Bike Hub
Plenty of places have a bike shop and this one certainly has the usual things you’d expect to find; a wide choice of bikes, apparel, and accessories. They also have experts who can service and repair your bike to keep you on the road. But The Bike Hub also has things you won’t find just anywhere. Whether you’re a novice cyclist or a veteran, you will be made to feel like this team is with you all the way. They all want you to get the best service, the best advice, and all the support you need. They run a Mountain Bike Club, offering group tuition from novice to pro-level, and a Road and Gravel Club for group rides and events. Drop by The Bike Hub at 495 North Main Street and you’ll see what we mean!
Amy Storm And Company
This highly regarded interior design studio and the retail store sell the most gorgeous home furnishings. They cater to everyone, from the spur-of-the-moment shopper looking for that perfect accessory to those looking to completely remodel a property. Amy Storm and her talented team have built a fine reputation as the people to guide you through all things interiors; be it the little details or a daunting redesign. With this fantastic resource right here in Glen Ellyn, furnishing your dream home is no more than a shopping trip away.
Sign Of The Whale Antiques
This beautiful store on Crescent Boulevard is actually 4 shops in one, specializing in 19th-century American country furniture, folk art, lighting, rugs, paintings, and early glass. Caroline, Ginny, Barb, and Kandy offer a warm welcome and a wealth of knowledge to everyone from the casual browser to the dedicated collector or dealer.
Food and Dining: A taste of Glen Ellyn
What are the best restaurants in Glen Ellyn?
Since Glen Ellyn is one of the best Chicago suburbs for dining out, there’re a lot of places to choose from. There are over 30 restaurants in the downtown area centered around North Main Street, Pennsylvania Ave, and Crescent Blvd featuring Italian, Mexican, Sushi, Thai and American restaurants as well as a pleasing selection of diners, cafes, and sweet treats outlets. You will also find a great selection of sports bars, wine bars, beer cellars, and an Irish pub. Here are just a few examples to whet your appetite.
This award-winning family-run Italian restaurant on Pennsylvania Avenue has grown from its humble beginnings in 1971 with 2 employees and a delivery driver to one of the most popular restaurants in town — with seating for 130 people! The ‘family’ mentality extends to the local businesses they buy their ingredients from. The coffee, cheeses, sausage, chicken, artisan bread, and gelato you eat here are all sourced locally. The dining room menu offers a select few favorite dishes so they can offer the highest quality, day in and day out. They have good gluten-free and kid’s menus to keep everyone happy and well-fed. Delivery and take-out are also available.
Inside tip: When it comes to Barrone’s pizzas it doesn’t really matter what topping you choose; they are all awesome but you have to try their phenomenal stuffed crust masterpiece. Legendary is no exaggeration!
A visit to this cozy welcoming establishment on Crescent Boulevard does more than just satisfy your taste buds. It seems to have the magical knack of appealing to all the senses at once. Ingredients are chosen and prepared in a way that delights on many levels. The combinations of color, aroma, and taste are exquisite. They even select certain ingredients for their medicinal benefits! They are always happy to adapt dishes to individual tastes and both the food and service consistently receive sparkling reviews.
Inside tip: Those in the know start with the Appetizer Platter featuring crab rangoons, potstickers, Thai egg rolls, and chicken satay.
This 2nd generation Mexican restaurant was founded in 1981 by Irineo and Teresa Jimenez who are from Guanajuato, Mexico. Their 6 children all help out to make this the friendliest place in town. This is truly authentic Mexican food. Everything is made from scratch with fresh ingredients and generous portions.
Inside tip: Their margaritas have been voted the best in DuPage County for over 30 years. We’ll drink to that!
Drinks All Round...
Here are some of the best bars to clink glasses and make memories in Glen Ellyn.
Maize And Mash
A small, cozy, intimate whiskey bar on North Main Street just south of Pennsylvania Avenue is renowned for its southern charm, excellent bourbon list, and seriously good cocktail menu. It combines this beautifully with a quirky twist on the American bistro menu. It is probably best summed up in this recent Facebook review: ‘One of my favorite places. Unique menu. Great atmosphere. Friendly wait staff. Cool decor. What’s not to love? Get the short rib grilled cheese sandwich... you will think you’ve died and gone to Heaven!’
Two Hound Red Brewing Co.
This brewery and restaurant can be found on Pennsylvania Avenue. Two Hound Red is the place you go to try something different. On tap, they have everything from deliciously light American lagers to traditional English-style Porters which their drinks menu describes as ‘subtle tones of fruit and sweet grape nuts mixed beneath big layers of smooth roast chocolate and biscuit’. It’s enough to make you as hungry as it does thirsty! Thankfully they do combine this with a classic American food menu that compliments the beers perfectly.
Common Good Cocktail Bar
This cocktail house on Crescent Avenue takes seriously its aim to make modern, upscale, cocktails in a relaxed, friendly environment. They also have a knack for coming up with great names for their cocktails, such as ‘Barley & Bubbles, No More Troubles’ and ‘Tarragon Without A Trace’.
Parks and Outdoor Spaces: It’s Green in Glen Ellyn
It is hardly surprising that Glen Ellyn takes such pride in its outdoor spaces, given how important Lake Ellen has been in the fortunes of this village. For over 100 years the Glen Ellyn Park District has been dedicated to the creation and upkeep of beautiful recreational spaces for its residents.
Over this time, the district has added many more facilities and open spaces and now takes care of 29 parks, 21 playgrounds, and the 263 acres of open spaces that make Glen Ellyn a great choice for anyone wanting to enjoy an active, outdoor lifestyle. You can choose from over 700 programs and events offered annually by the park district, whose mission statement is ‘to foster diverse, community-based leisure opportunities, through a harmonious blend of quality recreation programs, facilities, and open space which will enhance the quality of life into the future.
The facilities they offer in Glen Ellyn include fishing, boating, tennis, pickleball, ice skating, golf, basketball, athletics fields, a fitness center, splash park, skate park, dog park, and swimming pool.
Lake Ellyn Park
The most popular and best-known open space is, of course, the 50-acre Lake Ellyn Park with its fully restored historic boathouse offering an idyllic setting for the many weddings and events that take place here. The park is a great example of Glen Ellen’s commitment to sustainability with a gold standard LEED rating for its use of solar power, self-sufficient irrigation from the lake and commitment to planting native, low maintenance species.
Newcomers often ask ‘Can you swim in Lake Ellyn?’. Although this isn’t permitted, visitors can enjoy walking or cycling the miles of pretty trails which criss-cross the park. There is also a playground, picnic tables, and benches, a drinking fountain, and restrooms.
Situated on Pershing Ave just west of I 355, this is a family favorite destination and home to the Maryknoll Splash Park, Holes and Knolls miniature golf, an adventure playground, and a tennis center.
St Charles Road in North Glen Ellyn is the place to go if you are a sports and athletics enthusiast. The outdoor facilities here include grass soccer fields, synthetic turf fields, sand volleyball courts, outdoor fitness equipment, and 6 softball fields. The indoor Sports and Fitness Center includes a rock wall, basketball courts, a group fitness studio, and personal training.
Willowbrook Forest Preserve
Animal lovers in Glen Ellyn adore the Willowbrook Forest Preserve off Park Boulevard close to the College of DuPage. This popular attraction welcomes over 100,000 visitors each year. Self-guided tours allow you to enjoy the beauty of the miles of trails that loop through restored woodlands, prairie, and wetlands while learning about these diverse habitats and the wildlife they support.
The 45 acres that make up the preserve was the first land donation made to the District back in 1956 by Al and Audrie Chase, who requested that part of it be used as a bird sanctuary. Today this part of the preserve has grown into the Willowbrook Wildlife Center, a sanctuary for injured animals of all kinds. The team of dedicated volunteers, animal specialists, and veterinary staff care for around 10,000 animals annually. A highlight for young visitors is the opportunity to peek into the nursery and kitchen area where the staff care for and feed the baby animals.
Those animals who cannot be released back into the wild find a home in Willowbrook’s outdoor exhibit trail. Here you will see bobcats, red-tailed hawks, turkey vultures, owls, red foxes, groundhogs, raccoons, and even a state-threatened sandhill crane, which enjoys its own specially designed, enclosed wetland bird habitat. There is also a stunning butterfly garden with binoculars on hand for a close-up view of nectaring butterflies and blooming plants.
Real estate: Move Into A Great Market
Glen Ellyn offers homes in a variety of architectural styles. There are many ranch-style homes in Glen Ellyn built post-1970 but you will also find Cape Cods, cottages, traditional brick and cedar houses, brick bungalows, mid-century modern homes, and beautifully renovated historic homes. Many of the new constructions combine historic design with modern convenience.
The village is an urban-suburban mix made up of 8 constituent neighborhoods. The Village is committed to involving residents, businesses, and workers in the process of developing any improvement projects as part of its ongoing community-centered vision.
70% of residents in Glen Ellyn are owner-occupiers. Of these, a high proportion is young professional families. The village has a lower than average crime rate and Glen Ellyn is considered a good place to raise a family with its blend of highly-rated public schools, excellent amenities, and activity-oriented open spaces. The village itself is set among rolling woodland hills and surrounded by mature trees.
As of May 2022 the median list price for Glen Ellyn, IL is $459,500 with the market action index hovering around 65. This is an increase over last month's market action index of 56. Inventory has increased to 32.
Single-family detached homes make up just over 60% of the village's housing stock and the majority have 3 or 4 bedrooms. Large apartment complexes or high-rise apartments account for around 25% of homes. The remaining 15% consists mainly of row houses and duplexes.