Living in Hinsdale: A Guide to one of Chicago's Most Desirable Suburb
The Chicago Tribune once dubbed Hinsdale as “the diamond on Dupage County’s ring.” The village continues to sparkle brightly as ever and is considered one of Chicago’s most desirable suburbs to live in today.
It’s safe to say that top-class education is a defining feature of the district. From elementary through to high school, Hinsdale forges the best and brightest futures. Most local families say that the school system is their number one reason for living in Hinsdale.
Life in Hinsdale is set against a stunning backdrop. Hundred-year-old trees shade elegant period houses, and beautiful parks are in every neighborhood. The historic downtown area is lucky to be unscathed by the strip mall-frenzy of the 70s, earning a place on the National Register of Historic Places.
Located in the Western outskirts of Chicago, Hinsdale is considered one of the best places to raise a family in Illinois. But, besides scenic beauty and best-in-class schooling, what is it about Hinsdale that consistently places it in the top Chicago suburbs?
Read on and we’ll show you around.
REAL ESTATE: LOCATION, LIFESTYLE & LUXURY IN HINSDALE
What is real estate like in Hinsdale?
Hinsdale is a beautiful place, no matter what neighborhood or corner you choose to walk.
In November 1897, Campbell’s Illustrated Journal (a popular Chicago journal) showcased nearly 50 Hinsdale homes in an article titled, “Hinsdale The Beautiful”. By the early 1900s, Hinsdale was considered one of the most desirable Chicago suburbs.
The village is home to a wide variety of exceptional homes in architectural styles including Italianate, Queen Anne Victorian, Colonial, Renaissance, and Georgian. Many of the homes in the area today were built between 1940 and 1970, and various historic homes date back to the early 1900s.
Although most homes were built in the mid-20th century, Hinsdale was coined “tear-down central” in the 1980s. The village has seen around 30 percent of historic buildings replaced by newer constructions. Its residents are torn between trying to prevent any more damage to the city’s vintage character and hindering natural progression. The teardown debate is ongoing, with a temporary moratorium proposed in 2020.
Hinsdale is known for being an affluent and upmarket community, but there are a variety of home prices available. While there are over one hundred homes valued at well over one million dollars, the median home price in Hinsdale is just under $1,00,000. You can find many starter homes in the low $600,000s. For a price like that in one of the best villages and school districts in the state, it almost sounds like a steal.
The median home price for Hinsdale as of November 2022 is $1,000,000.
Hinsdale, Illinois Market Report
Includes average property values, inventory, market changes, and demographic data.Homes for sale in Hinsdale
GREEN SPACES: GO FURTHER IN HINSDALE’S GREAT OUTDOORS
An active community needs an active park district, and that’s exactly what Hinsdale does best. Hinsdale Park District takes care of seventeen different parks as well as many special events throughout the year.
No matter what side or corner of the village you reside in, you’ll find beautifully manicured parks with excellently kept playgrounds.
Just north of the original Hinsdale Train Station, Burlington Park is the hub of many community events like Uniquely Thursdays, the farmers market, and the Fine Arts Festival. This triangular-shaped plot of land has welcomed residents for more than a century and has had many lovely improvements over the years. It is also perfectly situated between two beautiful, iconic Hinsdale structures: the Hinsdale Train Station and the Public Library and Memorial Hall Building.
Of all Hinsdale’s green spaces, the most notable is the Katherine Legge Memorial Park. This 52-acre plot was originally to be used as a weekend getaway home for Alexander Legge and his wife, but, sadly, she never saw its completion. In 1924, Kathrine Legge passed away, and the land was donated to the public. The lodge that sits on the land was designed by respected architect and Hinsdale resident R. Harold Zook. It is a popular spot for ceremonies and weddings today.
The park also has an 18-hole disc-golf course, sledding hill, nature-based playground, lacrosse fields, tennis courts, and even a dog park. R. Harold Zook’s home was moved to the park in 2005 along with most of its original surrounding wall.
Just west of Hinsdale, in Clarendon Hills, is the prestigious Hinsdale Golf Club. Since opening in 1898, the club has been ravaged by two different fires. However, the fires weren’t all bad news, as the new club was embellished with a swimming pool and tennis courts.
Hinsdale’s second golf club is located south of the village. The original 9 members were Hinsdale businessmen who sought to preserve land for outdoor activities. Today the club is known for its premiere 18 hole golf course and the club’s activities.
SCHOOLS: A LEGACY OF EXCELLENT LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES
Does Hinsdale have good schools?
Hinsdale is well known for being home to award-winning educational opportunities. As a whole, the community ranks academics as a top priority. The children of Hinsdale are served by School Districts 181 and 86, both of which are considered exceptional.
It seems that a strong start truly does count for something — could you believe that almost 50% of Hinsdale’s residents hold a Master’s degree? If academics are a priority for you, then this is the suburb to be.
Elementary and middle schools (District 181)
Hinsdale is one of the largest communities in Illinois, so School District 181 includes 7 elementary schools and 2 middle schools. Although Monroe Elementary is traditionally considered the best, every single option is rated A+ or an A on niche.com:
- Elm Elementary School
- Oak Elementary School
- Monroe Elementary School
- The Lane Elementary School
- Madison Elementary School
- Walker School
- Prospect elementary school
- Clarendon Hills middle school
- Hinsdale middle school
One of the nicest things about growing up in Hinsdale is that many children are within walking distance of their schools, with many elementary schools being within neighborhoods.
High schools (District 86)
Teens in Hinsdale belong to Hinsdale South or Hinsdale Central, although niche.com also includes Lyons Township, Butler High, and Westmont within the Hinsdale catchment area.
In 2019, District 86 received was awarded a $140 million renovation plan to upgrade both of the district’s high schools, Central and South. Both schools will be extensively upgraded, including brand new pools.
Located just South of Hinsdale in Darien, Hinsdale South High School serves teens south of 63rd street. The school has 1,424 students with a student-teacher ratio of 11:1. Though Hinsdale Central often steals the glory, Hinsdale South is considered a top-rated school in Illinois.
Teens north of 63rd street attend Hinsdale Central, which was voted the third-best high school in Illinois, according to Newsweek (2011). Out of the top three best schools, it is the only one without selective admission; thus, many consider Central one of the very best public schools in the state. In 2013, The Chicago Sun-Times ranked Hinsdale Central as the top suburban high school in Illinois. The school has over 100 clubs and offers some of the best academic competition teams and athletic teams in the state.
COMMUNITY: JOIN A COLLECTIVE WHERE CULTURE IS KING
What amenities and events does Hinsdale have?
As the old proverb states, “It takes a village to raise a child”. Hinsdale stands out for its community culture, which is one of the reasons it continues to be such a widely sought-after location. Many suburbs have various amenities and even better geographical locations, but few can tie a vibrant town square, beautiful plotted lots, a deep history, and social cohesion together as Hinsdale does.
The Community House
As its name suggests, The Community House is at the heart of the town. It offers recreation programs, counseling services, arts programs, active adult programs, and other social services for people of all ages and walks of life.
The Community Pool
Hinsdale has a fantastic swimming center complete with a 50-meter pool, a diving pool, a wading pool, and an outdoor sunbathing area.
Hinsdale’s Fine Arts Festival
For more than 45 years, the annual Fine Arts Festival brings together the best local artists to display their work on the weekend of the Fourth of July parade. Naturally, the parade itself is a village tradition sure to turn out most of the village for its extraordinary displays. In 2013 Joel Quenneville — the former Chicago Blackhawks head coach — led the parade with the Stanley Cup among cheering fans and residents
Hinsdale is a village that knows how to make the most of summer. From June to August, residents gather in Burlington Park for live music, food, and community socializing. With a wide variety of bands playing everything from 80s classics to modern hits, there’s sure to be a Thursday show that suits your tastes.
The Farmers Market
If you don’t like Mondays, Hinsdale is sure to change that. Their Monday market has been running every summer since 1977 and is the perfect place to pick up your spirits with some freshly picked Midwestern produce. The market has many old vendors who have been serving the community with the very best produce and food for years
At the age of 15, Dr. David Paulson caught a life-threatening infection that he’d already seen his siblings perish of. In the face of certain death, young David began to pray. He promised that if he survived the infection, his life would be dedicated to serving others. True to his word, Dr. Paulson pursued a career in medicine and went on to open the Hinsdale Sanitorium.
What started as a 15-room main house is now a 400-room hospital today. Today, AMITA Adventist Hinsdale has earned several nationally recognized awards and safety grades, particularly for its state-of-the-art cancer center. Residents can feel rest assured that the finest of care is available at Hinsdale’s hospital, only a few blocks from downtown.
DOWNTOWN DINING: MAKE A DAY OF IT IN HISTORIC HINSDALE
What’s in downtown Hinsdale?
Hinsdale’s historic downtown is listed on the National Register of Historic places, with 73 period buildings amble over more than six blocks. These landmarks of the yesteryears are home to many of Hinsdale’s prized establishments today.
As expected from an upscale community, the downtown area has everything you might need to pamper yourself; a wine store, cute boutiques, spas, the very best in dining, or even quick eats to fuel a serious shopping trip.
Where are the best places to eat in Hinsdale?
When it comes to community favorites, the restaurants are staples of the district. If you’re a foodie, then it doesn’t get much better than having all these places below on your doorstep. From Starbucks to sushi bars, this upscale community doesn’t disappoint.
35 E. 1st Street
What was once the village hardware store is Fuller house today. Housed in an iconic building, this rustic tavern has great character both inside and out. Locals love this joint for its variety of craft beers, great American food, and atmosphere. They smoke their meat in-house and even go so far as to pack their burgers themselves.
Insider tip: The Hickory Smoked Brisket Chili is so mouthwatering, it was recently featured on Chicago’s Best.
26 1/2 E. Hinsdale Ave
If ever you need to take life at a slower pace, Page’s is the perfect place to settle in, sit back and refuel. This cozy cafe diner has been serving the community with delicious breakfast and lunches since 1981 and continues to be a longtime Hinsdale favorite. Whether you like your eggs sunny side up, in an omelet slathered in peppers and sausages, or scrambled on nachos, this no-frills mom-and-pop digs does it best.
Insider tip: There’s nothing like grabbing one of Page’s fresh donuts. That’s why over Christmas, the team decided to spread a little cheer by delivering them to other local businesses — part and parcel for the community spirit of Hinsdale.
40 Village Pl, Hinsdale
This is a family-run pizza spot right in the heart of downtown. Thanks to the huge popularity of their pies and thin crusts, what started as a simple takeaway place has grown to be a 60-seater restaurant. Owner Miklos’ background in culinary school has helped him bring something a little different to each of their dishes and the flavor always packs a punch.
Insider tip: The baked lasagna is one of Guiliano’s number one crowd-pleasers.
9 W 1st St
Named after a small town in Italy, Altamura offers make-at-home pizzas with authentic Italian crust and fine ingredients. If ever you’ve been disappointed by takeaway pizzas — soggy bottoms, cold crusts, and congealed cheeses — then Altamura is the antidote. Simply order their specialty self-cook pizza, which they assemble for you to collect and cook at home. When you pull one of these sizzling hot slices out of the oven, you’ll be sure to feel like a true chef. Compliments are almost guaranteed with an Altamura pizza.
Insider tip: If you fancy something a little different, save some room for their dessert pizza.
18 E 1st St
Nabuki is well known for its bright and lively atmosphere. They serve high-end, fresh food with beautiful presentations, classified as new-age sushi with a hint of Latin flavors. Think spicy tuna tacos and jalapenos stuffed with crab meat. Nabuki is also a great spot you’re looking for safe service — try dining in their heated outdoor tent.
Insider tip: The Chilean sea bass is a standout example of Nabuki’s style; prepared with the precision of a Japanese kitchen and the vigor of a Latin kitchen.
8 E. 1st Street
Il Poggiolo is the perfect spot for a special meal. Housed in an iconic building that was once a theatre, this beautiful interior lends itself to both an impressive bar and cozy seating. This is a quiet and refined restaurant where you can enjoy true Italian fine dining.
Insider tip: Their steak with gorgonzola is a certified cure for that empty-stomach flavor-craving feeling.
46 Village Place
Just one look at cafe La Fortuna and it’s clear that this is a cafe made to be remembered. It’s the perfect spot to swing by if you’re passing through downtown Hinsdale. They serve bread and the very best coffee, with beans from southern Mexico. La Fortuna itself dates back to over 100 years ago in Chiapas, Mexico. They still have a coffee plantation run by family members today. La Fortuna personally cultivates, hand picks, and roasts their beans daily.
Insider tip: The Mexican hot chocolate is like a hug in a cup — the perfect pick-me-up for those chilly winter months.
SHOPPING & BOUTIQUES: RETAIL THERAPY ON YOUR DOORSTEP
One of the best things about living in Hinsdale is that you’ll never need to go far to do a spot of shopping.
Downtown is both pedestrian-friendly and caters to drivers, with a good-sized car park right next to the train station. Once you’re there, you are likely to find everything you need.
Hinsdale has a handful of adorable boutiques to discover, including Alixandra Blue, J. McLaughlin, Hinsdale Furriers, Sweet William, My Sister Kate, and Stockholm Objects, to name a few.
Spas and salons
If you are looking for pampering and need some self-love, you can check out Reflexion Spa, Ten Friends Blow Dry & Style House, The Salon by David and William, and Zazu Salon & Day Spa. For makeup and skincare products, try Blue Mercury.
Hinsdale has special occasions covered, with Razny Jewelers, Consignment shops, and Kelsey Resale Boutique all offering beautiful selections of jewelry and accessories.
Whether you’re moving to Hinsdale or already live there, you won’t need to go far for home furnishings. If you are looking for smaller home decor, Yankee Peddler is known for its antique-inspired furnishings. They also have great pieces from designers for gifts and special occasions. You can also find great pieces and gifts at ArtQuest Gallery, Phillips Flowers & Gifts, Jane’s Blue Iris, and Hinsdale Flower Shop.
HISTORY: A VILLAGE THAT WAS DESTINED FOR SUCCESS
Some may say that the bright future of Hinsdale was forged in the plans for the new railroad between Aurora and Chicago. Back in 1858, Hinsdale was known as Fullersburg, and its residents petitioned for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad to run through their town. Even then, they must have known the wealth and vitality that a well-connected village could claim.
In the same year, William Robbins bought the district and began plotting this historic location. He advertised it in the Chicago newspapers, even offering a free plot of land to the first baby born in the town. Foreseeing the westward growth of Chicago, Robbins quickly built amenities designed to attract wealthy Chicagoans to the village. One of his investments that local residents still benefit from today are the hundreds of trees planted along the sidewalks.
Set alongside the beautiful prairie and rolling hills, it wasn’t long until Hinsdale became a prime location. People could live in a breathtaking country-like setting, while still being able to commute in and out of the city for work. The addition of other plots of land, as well as the Hinsdale Golf Club in the late 1890s, made the village a hot commodity in the early 20th century.
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