Living in Naperville: Unparalleled 21st-Century Urban Living
Naperville is quite simply a city with something for everyone. The most walkable, liveable, edible, enjoyable… Name any desirable adjective and Naperville has it. Consistently topping lists of ‘best places to live’, the city stands out for its culture, community, and quality of life.
The life and soul of the city center around three things: the dynamic downtown, the outstanding community amenities, and an unfailing aspiration to keep bettering itself. Naming all of Naperville’s awards and accolades would require quite a few pages, but they all have the city’s hallmarks of excellence in common. Active, clean, fun, friendly, and safe, Naperville is an unparalleled achievement of 21st-century urban living.
Despite having the quintessential charm of a small town, Naperville boasts a happy population of 150,000. This places it as the third-largest city in Illinois, located just 28 miles west of Chicago.
Naperville is one of those rare places that everybody loves. With a long history of evolution, likeability comes naturally to Naperville. The city is the oldest in DuPage County — many years of well-considered development have earned it international recognition as one of the best places to live in America. Naperville is currently ranked as the #1 best city to raise a family, alongside being the #1 city for the public schools in America, and even tops the charts as the #1 city for early retirement by niche.com.
Naperville has been drawing people into its charming community for more than sixty years – if you haven’t heard why then you must not be from around here. Read on, and we’ll show you around!
Move Into The Market
Real Estate and Housing
Naperville’s industrialization came with great wealth, and many elegant homes were built throughout the city. Today, Naperville has an exciting selection of different styles, prices, and locations to choose from. The city limits stretch north past I-88 and as far south as 111th street, spanning nearly 40 square miles. Naperville real estate has seen a boom in the last 30 years, with improvements enticing home buyers into new subdivisions and rebuilds. You can also find many older homes in pristine condition at affordable prices.
As of November 2022, the median list price for Naperville, IL is $493,000 with the market action index hovering around 66. Click on the image below for a closer look at the current real estate market trends.
Naperville can be divided into three sections North, Central, and South.
Naperville North has long been one of the most sought-after areas of the city. With links to Chicago via I-88, the metra, and the RT59 train station, you can be in the loop express 30 minutes by train or 45 minutes by car.
Additional subdivisions were built in North Naperville during the 1960s and 1970s, after the approval of the highway I-88. The area has seen recent teardowns and rebuilds, along with new subdivisions.
Single-family homes range from $300k-$600k. You can find selections of condominiums and townhouses in the city ranging between $100k- $350k. One of the most popular areas is Freedoms Common along I88, whose up-and-coming community has recently seen developments in shopping and a wide variety of 5-star dining. Naperville North High School serves this area, along with homes east of the DuPage River.
Express to Chicago - 30 minutes by train, 45 minutes by car
High School - Naperville North High School District 203
Nature forest Preserve - McDowell Grove Forest Preserve
Golf - Cress Creek Country Club and Naperville Country Club
Naperville, Illinois Market Report
Includes average property values, inventory, market changes, and demographic data.Homes for sale in Naperville
As the name would suggest, Central Naperville is the heart and soul of the city. Here, you can find the picturesque downtown and famous river walk alongside the centennial beach, Moser Tower and Millennium Carillon. You can still walk Naper’s Settlement in a recreated outdoor Museum featuring 30 historic buildings that date back to papa Joe Naper.
Here, you’re just blocks away from Naperville’s bustling downtown, which is set to compete with Chicago for its dynamism, dining options, and diverse destinations. If you want to be in the thick of the action, then this is the place to be. But, if you still feel the call of Chicago, then you can easily reach the city by Central Naperville’s excellent transportation links.
Central Naperville is served by Naperville Central High School, the city's original high school. Homes around this area can date back to the turn of the century. Single-family homes belonging to Naperville Central High School range between $300k-$600k.
Express to Chicago - 30 minutes by train, 48 minutes by car
High School - Naperville Central High School; District 203
Nature Forest Preserve - Greene Valley Forest Preserve, Knoch Knolls Nature Center
Golf - Knoch Knolls Disc Golf Course
Southern Naperville is anything south of the DuPage River. It’s the newest part of town, with most of the developments taking place within the last 15-20 years. This part of the city was rural for many years before being annexed to the city of Naperville.
South Naperville has one of the most breathtaking wild prairie lands to be seen today. The Springbrook Nature Center is almost 2,000 acres of natural beauty and is home to many endangered birds and owls.
Southern Naperville belongs to the second school district, District 204. Neuqua Valley High School was built in 1997, and at the time, was the most extensive and most expensive high school in 60 years, costing 63 million.
Although slightly further from the central transportation veins, (the railway, Odgen and 1-88), South Naperville is connected to Chicago via the I-55. Southern Naperville has many custom homes, but single-family homes range from $400k-$600k. Newer and custom-built homes can hit the 1 million dollar mark and beyond.
Express to Chicago 45 minutes by train, 45 minutes by car
High School -Neuqua Valley High School
Nature Forest Preserve - Springbrook Prairie Forest Preserve, Knoch Knolls Nature Center
Golf - Naperbrook Golf, Tamarack Fairways, White Eagle, Springbrook Golf Course
Explore the Excellent Education Options
Naperville is served by Public School District 203 and 204, which includes 3 high schools, 8 middle schools, and 34 elementary schools. Naperville is currently ranked the #1 city for public schools in America, with some of the best and brightest education institutions to choose from. With world-renowned education, Naperville’s mission is to give every child the very best opportunity to succeed — no matter what corner of the city you choose to live in.
Naperville North High School
Niche State Ranking- #29 in Best Public High Schools of Illinois
Students - 2,713
Student-Teacher Ratio - 15 to 1
Naperville North is well known for its acclaim in academics, athletics, and activities. Located at the intersection of Ogden and Mill, St. North serves teenagers living in the northeastern part of the city. The school was constructed in 1970 during the city’s first major expansion and is currently ranked #29 as the best high school in Illinois. The students are dubbed as ‘Huskies’, after the school's athletics teams. 99% of Naperville North students will graduate as seniors.
Naperville Central High School
Niche State Ranking- #23 in Best Public School of Illinois
Students - 2,750
Student-Teacher Ratio - 15 to 1
Naperville Central is the original Naperville High School, first built-in 1916. Central is on Aurora Ave next to Naper’s Settlement and steps from Centennial Park, serving teens living in central and northwestern Naperville. The school has had many additions and renovations to meet the needs of its student body, which today stands at 2,750. Central excels, particularly in athletics, and is ranked as the 12th best high school for athletes in Illinois.
Neuqua Valley High School
Niche State Rankings- #15 in Best Public School of Illinois
Students - 3,403
Student-Teacher Ratio - 15 to 1
Neuqua Valley High School is the newest of the three Naperville high schools. Just off 95th Street, the school serves teens south of Springbrook Prairie and west of the DuPage River. Neuqua Valley opened in 1997 as Naperville became one of the ten fastest-growing communities in America. Originally housing 3,000 students, it was one of the largest schools in the state. Although the youngest high school, Neuqua has quickly earned its place in Naperville, winning multiple state championships in athletic and academic achievements.
Take a Breath of Fresh Air
Green Spaces and Parks
However you like to spend time outdoors, Naperville’s Park District has something to offer. The district manages over 2,499 acres of green space, including 130 parks, four-sport complexes, and two golf courses, and also takes care of the riverwalk, centennial park, centennial beach, and five forest preserves.
Considered Naperville’s ‘Crown Jewel,’ the riverwalk is a beautiful place to visit at every time of year. The pathway rambles over 1.75 miles, with plenty of places to stop and take in the scenery, including fountains, bridges and sculptures. You can also grab a bite to eat, hop on a paddleboat across the quarry, and even see concerts at the Millennium Carillon bell-tower in the summer. The riverwalk takes you past some of the best spots in Naperville and is popular with residents and visitors alike.
Centennial Beach / Centennial Park
The early days of the Naper settlement were powered by the town's stone quarrying industry. One of those limestone quarries was Centennial beach and park. After serving the city for a century, the land was transformed into a swimming pool and beach in 1932, where you could swim for just 35 cents. The water park is still fed by Lake Michigan Water, which is chlorinated and recirculated. The perfect place to soak up the summer, the park has a zero-depth entry, two water-play features, and children’s play areas.
Springbrook Prairie Forest Preserve
Springbrook Prairie Forest Preserve is 1,829 acres of rolling grasslands, with trails, a model craft field, and a dog-walking area. One of the most special things about this preserve is that it is one of the few places where endangered birds and owls can be successfully bred. As such, the prairie is a bird-watching paradise and also boasts colorful displays of summer blooms. The Springbrook Prairie is the land of the explorer, and its 7 miles of trails can be enjoyed on foot, by bicycle, by cross-country ski, or even on horseback.
McDowell Grove Forest Preserve
McDowell Grove is a forest with an interesting history, having served as a campground for the work-relief program after the great depression in the 1930s. The workers constructed picnic areas, bridges, and even a boathouse.
The Dupage river flows through the heart of McDowell Grove and its 465 acres of mature woodlands. This is the perfect place to take in the great outdoors, with a 7-mile trail, picnicking, fishing, watercraft access to the DuPage River, hiking, cycling, cross-country skiing, and even horseback riding on trails.
Greene Valley Forest Preserve
The 1,388-acre Greene Valley Forest Preserve in Naperville is teeming with wildlife, with more than 540 native plant species making their home here. The beautiful landscape and the Chicago skyline are most impressive when seen from the 190-foot tall scenic overlook. Greene Valley also offers 12 miles of marked trails, picnic shelters, an off-leash dog area, a model craft area, a youth-group campground, and more.
When William Greene bought 200 acres of present-day Greene Valley Forest Preserve, his surveyors remarked upon the hazel and red oak bush. Hints of the historic landscape can still be glimpsed today with stunted, gnarled oaks and rivulets of dense woodland.
Knoch Knolls Nature Center
The Knoch Knolls Nature Center sits on the fork of the east and west branches of the river. The center is home to a quirky collection of marine life and reptilian displays that will delight children and nature enthusiasts alike. The 900-gallon freshwater tank offers a glimpse into the murky underworld of the river and its fascinating ecosystem. With hands-on displays and aquatic-life learning programs for children, the nature center offers a fun-packed family day out. With mountain biking trails, an eighteen-hole frisbee golf course, and several incredible views of the land, there’s no excuse to be bored.
Be Part of a Community
Events and Public spaces
The Last Fling
See out the summer with The Naperville Jaycees' Last Fling, a family-friendly community festival with music, carnivals, and a great number of other special variety events. Although autumn draws in, the jig is far from up at the Last Fling, which takes place over Labour Day Weekend in Downtown Naperville.
Naperville Ale Fest
There’s no better way to celebrate the gift of Craft Beer than the Naperville Ale Fest. With more than 200 specialty beers, the finest that food trucks have to offer, and all the lovely locals of Naperville, this is the only beer festival that can get away with being in the winter. They’re even kind enough to give away all their secrets in their home brewing seminars. We couldn’t say it better than them — this festival is a ‘ton of fun'.
Naperville settlement museum
All Napervillians get free entry to the Naper Settlement Museum, where you can travel back in time to discover the rich history of the region. Alongside its permanent collections, the museum stays current with exhibitions tackling topical themes.
award winning libraries
Naperville’s Public Libraries was one of 13 public libraries named an ‘All-Time All-Star’ by the Library Journal. The achievement came as no surprise to the residents of Naperville, with the library earning five stars every single year between 2009-2017. Naperville’s Public Libraries showcase the city’s pride in providing efficient and modern services to enhance the lives of its resident students, children, and seniors alike.
There are three public library locations within the city limits:
- The Nichols Library is a unique community space, offering not only a fantastic selection of books, CDs, and films to feed the hungry mind, but also houses a co-working space and a 3D printer. This library is the oldest in Naperville and relocated to 200 W. Jefferson Street for a much-needed expansion after its collection of books became too great to the house.
- The Naper Boulevard Library at 2035 S. Naper Boulevard is the smallest of the three. This cozy library is particularly popular for families with young children and teenagers, and the staff are renowned for being warm and friendly.
- The 95th Street Library is the newest and largest of the three facilities at 73,000 square feet. This building was renovated in 2018 with the entire lower level reorganized to define social areas, maximize space, and go green. This library is located near 95th Street and Route 59, at 3015 Cedar Glade Drive (just west of Neuqua Valley High School).
The three libraries are cherished by the local community, with one and a half million yearly visitors and a circulation of about five million items.
Eat Your Way Across Town
With more than 250 restaurants to choose from, Naperville is a playground for foodies. Whether you’re looking for upscale, cozy, fusion, or fast, there’s a bite for everybody.
Here are two phrases you probably wouldn’t put together: ‘Historic Mansion’ and ‘Spanish Tapas’. For this reason, there’s nowhere quite like Mesón Sabika. The mansion sits on four acres of pristinely manicured grounds in downtown Naperville, and guests can dine alfresco on the award-winning patio. This prestigious restaurant is rated Naperville’s #1 on TripAdvisor, and almost every review mentions the Sangria.
Naperville is home to several great Italian eateries, but Traverso’s is one with a uniquely interesting story. The head chef was Lena Traverso who had moved to America thirty years — knowing no English but with cooking that could do the talking for her. She’d learned in the kitchen of her small family hotel in Italy and earned her reputation in restaurants across Naperville. She must have passed on some long-hidden family recipes because today, Traversos still serves some of the best pizza in town.
There's nowhere better to round up a riverwalk ramble than Quiubo. Serving a mouthwatering modern Mexican menu, this joint is famous around town for their tantalizingly tasty tacos loaded with dreamy avo combos. Although unassuming from the outside, Quiubo is packed with personality — think industrial concrete enlivened with bold Mexican artesanía inspired murals. Be sure to order one of their flame-kissed cocktails, infused with Habanero chili. Better still, you can turn the whole trip on its head and grab a cocktail to go before heading along the river; Quiubo is now offering all their signature cocktails freshly bottled on site.
Unlike in New York, not just anybody in Naperville could build a booming business as a Jewish delicatessen. Schmaltz Deli, however, is a cut above the rest, selling giant sandwiches by the hundred every day. Stuffed with corned beef, pastrami, sloppy joe meatballs, and just about any other classic filling you can think of, these sandwiches are a neighbor staple. If you need a pick me up, grab a “Kick in Tukus” Deli Coffee alongside. Schmaltz makes for a lunch spot that will not disappoint.
The Francesca’s Restaurant Group
What began as a small, cozy Italian dining affair on North Clarke Street grew into a group of five restaurant concepts, including Francesca’s Restaurants, Davanti Enoteca's, Disotto, Fat Rosie’s, and Hillgrove Tap. Today, they can be found in 27 locations across three states — including Naperville, of course.
La Sorella di Francesca
Although La Sorella di Francesca is located in lively downtown Naperville, the warm, sophisticated atmosphere and traditional cuisine will transport you straight to Tuscany. Their alfresco dining means that you can soak up a summer evening European style, sitting aside a fountain and flower-filled patio. Their delicious pasta menu pays homage to the true Italian way — the simple power of fantastic yet humble ingredients.
This spot is a little Italy right here in Illinois; a lively wine bars popular for putting a modern twist on traditional Italian fare. With plates perfect for sharing, Davanti’s makes for a delicious date-night dinner spot.
If you’ve been dreaming of sipping wine in the cozy cellar of an Italian vineyard, Disotto is offering you a taste of it by the glassful. Their secret ingredient to every dish is love and care, giving them the authentic Italian seal of approval — ”like grandma does it”.
Fat Rosie's Taco and Tequila Bar
If the name isn’t enough to convince you to pay a visit, perhaps the tequila will. This is a joint with a personality, packing a real punch with their modern take on Mexican classics. Serving street food, good times, and big-belly-laughs head to Fat Rosie’s to let it all hang out.
Here, you can enjoy a refined selection of worldly wines alongside modern Mediterranean plates. In their own words, their mission is ‘to take each guest on a vacation in a glass, through each sip of wine’. The word about town is that you have to try their focaccia with ricotta and honeycomb.
Quigley’s Irish Pub
Rumour has it that in Ireland, everyone has a second home: The pub. That’s why Quigley’s — designed, built, and shipped from Ireland to Chicago — is a historical homely hideaway where you can get comfy. With warm wood-paneled walls, original hand-hewn beams, and an antique fireplace, this pub is filled to the brim with coziness. You can tuck yourself away in one of their snugs, or pull up a stool at the bar to get in on the action. Like any Irish Pub worth its salt, Quigley’s lives by the old Gaelic term ‘good craic’, which, simply put, is all about having a good time. With hearty meals, feel-good music, and a pint of something Irish in hand, you’ll be sure to find plenty of good craic here.
At Sharko’s, BBQ isn’t just a meal — it’s an experience. Here, every tender bite is straight from the melting pot of flavors, tradition, history, friendships, and passion for food that Sharko’s has been serving up since 1956. Everything on the menu is made fresh in-house, from their authentic smoked meats to their thirteen different mouthwatering sides. No detail is too small for this family business; even their BBQ sauce is award-winning. You have to try the ribs — you only need to look at them and the meat practically falls off the bone! It’s no surprise why; the ribs are seasoned with the family secret spice mix for over twelve hours, before being rubbed a second time and smoked, then given one last spice rub before they make their way to your table.
At Santo Cielo, you can experience the height of Naperville’s fine dining scene — quite literally. Offering panoramic views of the downtown riverwalk from the fifth floor of Hotel Indigo, Santo Cielo is up there with the very best of modern upscale culinary experiences. The views are far from the only expansive part of the Santo Cielo experience, self-dubbed as a ‘kitchen without boundaries’. The interior design is fresh and clean, the menu is a refined palette of mid-western-inspired dishes, and the ingredients are sustainably and seasonably sourced from local purveyors. Whether you’re in for brunch, lunch, dinner or cocktails, Santo Cielo is an exquisite destination. Try the Maiden Voyage cocktail — it’s like sipping on sunshine.
Trace Back to Historical Beginnings
When Joseph Naper and his family moored their ship in Lake Michigan 190 years ago, who could say whether they ever envisioned everything that their settlement would go on to become? One thing is for sure, though, which is that Naper and the early settlers had a vision.
After setting sail from Buffalo, New York on The Telegraph — a ship built by Joseph himself — the settlers embarked on a 2-month journey to their new town. They collected other settlers from Ohio and navigated through the lakes to arrive at Fort Dearborn (known today as Chicago). One cramped wagon ride, 28 miles, and three days later, the settlers arrived in the prairie land alongside a bend in the DuPage River. In just one year, the population of the Naper Settlement grew to 180. They built stores, sawmills, gristmill, and even a hotel, putting Naperville firmly on the map as the founding town of DuPage County and was incorporated in 1857. When Joseph Naper passed away five years later, he left behind a thriving town of over 2,000 residents.
For the next 75 years, much of the lifeblood of Naperville traveled through the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy railroad. The trains brought not only people but were used to ship goods to and from the bustling markets of Chicago. The railway became the backbone of the many businesses that sprang up along its tracks. However, up until the development of the I-88 in 1954, much of Naperville was still a rural community. From the 60s up until the early 2000s, the city swelled in both size and population — making it one of the most vibrant places to live in America today.
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