Spring in NapervilleMay 11, 2021
The peaceful, tree-lined sidewalks, fountains, and covered bridges of the Riverwalk. A wide variety of downtown shops and restaurants. Numerous recreational opportunities. Whatever comes to mind when you think of getting out and about, exploring, and enjoying springtime, Naperville offers a perfect, easily-accessible setting.
Naperville, about 30 miles west of Chicago, boasts a rich history. Founded by Joseph Naper along the banks of the DuPage River in 1831, the town became a key stage stop on routes from Chicago to Ottawa and Galena, and got a boost in 1864 when the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy railroad ran its line through. Organized as a city in 1890, Naperville’s population was just over 2,600 by 1900 and 13,000 by 1960. Thanks in large part to construction of the East-West toll road in the 1950s linking Naperville to Chicago, by 2000 the oldest settlement in DuPage County was home to more than 128,000 residents.
Now with a population close to 150,000, the nearly 200-year-old city – one of Illinois’ largest – offers much to draw in residents and visitors alike.
Perhaps one of Naperville’s best-known features is the 1.75-mile Riverwalk, built in 1981 as part of the city’s 150-year anniversary celebration. Visitors can check out the colorful, whimsical art installations; watch ducks and geese floating peacefully in the water from the vantage of the sidewalks alongside the river or the covered bridges spanning its depths; and listen to the sounds of chirping birds and childrens’ laughter.
Those who want to get some exercise while floating around and enjoying the view can rent kayaks, paddleboats and paddleboards for use in the Riverwalk’s Paddleboat Quarry. Rentals are available on weekends through Memorial Day, weather permitting, and daily from Memorial Day through mid-August. Not only can boaters savor the breeze and the light reflecting off the water, wildlife enthusiasts may also spot turtles, frogs and birds.
While the always-popular Millennium Carillon is closed to tours due to construction, visitors can still enjoy picnics on its beautifully-maintained grounds while listening to the weekly Carillon concerts on weekends, which will continue until construction begins in June.
Just a block from the Riverwalk is the Nichols branch of the Naperville Public Library, which is always worth a visit. Even if you don’t live in Naperville, the library has a reciprocal borrowing arrangement with multiple other communities, so as long as you have a card from your home library you can check out materials. The Nichols branch also has a large collection of second-hand books and other materials for sale in the front lobby, most of which are priced at 50 cents or $1, so if you’re looking for new reading materials you may want to stop in.
Another popular warm-weather activity is strolling through Naperville’s bustling downtown to browse stores ranging from bookstores and bike shops to clothing stores and furniture emporiums. Hungry visitors will find more than 50 restaurants boasting a wide variety of cuisines – along with multiple ice cream and frozen yogurt shops, which beckon with perfect treats on warm spring days.
Want to take a step back in time and learn all about local history? Pop over to Naper Settlement, nestled on 13 acres just a few minutes from the Riverwalk and downtown. Naper Settlement’s costumed interpreters and 30 historic buildings – including a blacksmith shop and post office – provide a rich glimpse into the city’s past. Be sure to check the Naper Settlement website for the latest Covid guidelines and admissions information.
Outdoor enthusiasts will also find a wealth of exploration opportunities in Naperville beyond downtown, including a variety of parks and forest preserves. More than five miles of trails at Knoch Knolls Park meander through the woods to the confluence of the east and west branches of the DuPage River, and the 1,829-acre Springbrook Prairie Forest Preserve features the largest grassland in DuPage County, to name just two popular destinations.
Not an outdoor activity, but North Central College has a vibrant Fine and Performing Arts Center. With local, regional and world-class performances, Monarch Landing is a proud, longtime sponsor, and our residents are loyal attendees.
Keep your eyes open as we will soon be sharing information about our transportation that will take residents to downtown Naperville. We’ll soon be ‘getting that wheel turning.’
With the warm sunshine and refreshing breezes of spring finally upon us, Naperville offers a wealth of opportunities to get out and enjoy – and for residents of Monarch Landing near downtown Naperville, they are just minutes down the road.