Your Wilmette Address Begins Here
Wilmette - A sparkling gem along the western shore of Lake Michigan; Wilmette, Illinois (located just 14 miles from the Chicago Loop) features award-winning schools, abundant recreation options, short commuting times to Chicago and the "go to" dining scene on the North Shore.
In short, it’s the quintessential place to raise a family. Wilmette’s adorable downtown adjoins a diverse mix of homes: charming family homes, stately colonials and exquisite lakefront mansions. It’s no surprise that Wilmette remains one of Illinois’s most sought after communities!
Most homes in Wilmette fall within the boundaries of District 39 schools while a small portion of northwestern Wilmette attends District 37 Avoca schools. District 39 consists of 4 elementary schools for children in Kindergarten through grade 4: Romona, Central, Harper and McKenzie. There is one middle school, Highcrest, for grades 5 and 6 and one junior high, Wilmette Junior High, servicing grades 7 and 8. District 37 consists of one elementary school: Avoca (for grades K-5) and one middle school, Marie Murphy, for grades 6-8. Here is the Illinois State report Card for Wilmette schools.
Both Marie Murphy and Wilmette Junior High feed into the nationally-recognized New Trier High School, located in neighboring Winnetka, Illinois. Town and Country Magazine once defined New Trier as "quite possibly the best public school in America". New Trier has also been featured in Life, the New York Times. the Washington Post and Parade Magazine for its excellence. It also has been featured in many films. Here’s the Profile of New Trier High School’s Class of 2018 and some additional statistics about the 2018 class.
For early education, Romona School houses the District 39 Connecting Kids fee-based pre-school. Additionally, there are many excellent private options such as Ronald Knox Montessori, Wilmette Park District, Trinity, Rose Hall Montessori, St. Francis Xavier and St. Joseph. Both ½ day and full-day pre-school programs exist.
Kindergarten is still 1/2 day in Wilmette so the option for enrichment exists. For Kindergarten enrichment options, District 39 has just rolled out new fee-based enrichment program at Harper and Central Schools. By the 2020-21 school year, they hope to have fee-based enrichment options at all four schools. Institutions such as the Wilmette Park District and Winnetka Community House offer many excellent enrichment programs as well, some with bussing service, to supplement your kindergartener's ½ day experience, if desired.
Several excellent private schools in the area service K-8 students. These include Baker Demonstation School, North Shore Country Day, St. Francis Xavier, and Faith, Hope and Charity. For high school, Loyola Academy, North Shore Country Day and Regina Dominican offer additional top-notch educational opportunities.
Central, Regina, Romona, Saint Joseph, Saint Francis, Wilmette Junior High and New Trier schools have all earned the prestigious National Blue Ribbon School award granted by the US Department of Education for excellence in education.
Nearly all of the grade schools offer an extensive assortment of after school programs, ranging from student newspaper clubs to sports teams to student Broadcasting clubs. Each school’s PTA/PTO website should provide further details about these programs. Additionally, the Wilmette Park District, as well as many private operators such as Illinois Baseball Academy, R & B Dance Center and The Actors Training Center, offer a plethora of private enrichment activities for kids after school and in the summer. Team sport offerings include: soccer (Wilmette Wings or Trevians Soccer), hockey (Wilmette Braves), football (North Shore Trevians), baseball (Kenilworth-Winnetka Baseball Association), basketball (Wilmette Wolves) and swimming (Flying Fish or New Trier).
The Wilmette - Chicago Commute
Residents have many options for their daily commute. While most residents work out of Chicago, many also work in the adjacent northwestern suburbs, home to several major corporate headquarters.
Conveniently located off of Green Bay Road, the Wilmette Metra train station features a large parking lot for commuters. Many central and east Wilmette residents live within walking distance of the train station as well. A quick 34 minute ride, has you in the heart of the city. Monthly passes average about $121. Visit www.metrarail.com for train schedules and details. Wilmette is also connected to the city of Chicago’s subway line. The Linden Street Station (the CTA purple line) offers subway service in and out of the city as well.
Pace Bus service is available to the city as well as to neighboring communities. Many of the area high school students prefer to use Pace for their school transportation needs.
Many residents choose to drive the approximate 14 miles in and out of the city for work. In warmer weather, cyclist enthusiasts can follow the Green Bay Trail along the lakefront and bike to work! Utilizing the city’s extensive biking resources like the McDonald’s Cycle Center (parking, service and shower facilities), as well as the city’s vast network of bike lanes and racks, cycling to work has never been more enjoyable or easier.
Wilmette is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise! Its proximity to Lake Michigan’s beautiful sandy shores provides sun and swim activities galore! Wilmette offers three public beaches for its residents: Gillson, Langdon and our little hidden gem - Elmwood Dunes Preserves. Additionally, there is a sailing beach (with watercraft rentals and resident sailing permits available) as well as a dog beach for four-legged friends.
Gillson Park, the crown jewel of Wilmette’s beaches spans 60 acres along the lakefront. Gillson offers lifeguarded swimming areas, a beach house and concessions stand, a children’s beach park and a large grassy picnic area. Additionally, Gillson Park is home to the amazing outdoor lakefront amphitheater, the Wallace Bowl, which hosts free live musical theater events and musical groups throughout the summer months.
On any given summer day, you will find residents cooling off along the lakefront. The beach is popular with families and is also a meeting place for local teens. During summer, the park district runs its “Great Gillson” beach camp and also “Aquatics Camp” and “Sailing Camp” for kids interested in experiencing water sports on the lake. The Sheridan Shores Yacht Club offers additional boatslips, charters and sailing lessons. Additionally, Wilmette tends to more than 20 neighborhood parks and playgrounds scattered throughout its boundaries.
For those wanting to cool off without hitting the beach, Wilmette’s Centennial Family Aquatic Center is just the ticket! Boasting a 50 meter pool, a zero-depth leisure pool with water sprays, water slides, a diving well and a children’s pool, the fun never stops. In the summer, the pool complex is a beehive of activity. Swim lessons and camps are available all summer long.
After a dip in the pool, head indoors to the Centennial complex for some tennis and skating. The Centennial Tennis Complex has 8 indoor courts, a locker room and pro shop. It has a robust tennis league, lessons and its infamous Pirate Tennis Camp! The ice skating complex offers year-round open skating sessions, Broomball, rink rentals and both figure skating and hockey lessons on its regulation NHL-sized rink and Studio Rink.
The Wilmette Golf Club is located on the west side of town. In 2014, it finished up renovations on its par 70 course. The Golf Club offers lessons, leagues, and camps throughout the season. Stop by for some practice at the driving range or play a quick round. Grab a bite to eat afterward in the dining area that is catered by A la Carte. Wilmette’s Platform Tennis Club, is also on the western side of town. The year-round six-court complex and state-of-the-art paddle hut hosts leagues, lessons and rentals.
Roemer Field is Wilmette’s classic ballfield dating back to 1953. It provides a step back in time to another era. Thousands of little leaguers have graced its walls as well as some very famous ones over the years (it is reported that Bill Murray, Rahm Emmanuel, Scott Turow and Charlie Trotter, all having grown up in Wilmette, have run its bases).
Extensive biking trails and proximity to neighboring forest preserves lets Wilmette residents stay in touch with nature. Bike trails can wind you around the shore of the lake up to the Botanic Gardens in Glencoe or all the way down to Chicago. In the winter, a cross-country ski may be in order on the trails.
Also during the winter, the village sets up outdoor rinks at Thornwood , Gillson and Mallinckrodt Parks. These provide all-ages fun for skaters and pick-up hockey players. You will also find an overabundance of backyard rinks, built lovingly by their owners with supplies often ordered from the Wilmette Sport and Bike Shop.
Wilmette is just a short drive from Chicago’s Botanic Garden in Glencoe, offering 385 acres of well manicured gardens and nature preserves.
Wilmette Fine Arts
On the west side of town, Wilmette’s Center for the Arts offers extensive programming options in theater, dance, music and art - offering lessons and public performances. Downtown Wilmette also hosts the Wilmette Theater, (with an eclectic selection of big screen runs as well as specialty programming) and the Actors Training Center (offering top industry acting lessons and live performances from its company members). .
Music Institute of Chicago (located in Winnetka and Evanston) is one of the oldest and most respected music schools in the nation. If your child wants to play in the #1 orchestra in Illinois, they can audition for the Midwest Youth Artist Conservatory or MYAC (located in Highwood). The MYAC was named the 2019 Youth Orchestra of the Year by the Illinois Orchestra Association. North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, in nearby Skokie, is a world class center hosting many of the hottest live performing acts in the country. For outdoor music, Ravinia Park is legendary. Only a brief train ride (and a packed picnic lunch complete with wine) separates Wilmette residents from a night of al fresco dining under twinkling stars while enjoying live musical performances to the likes of Sting, Train and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Of course, a trip to the city or to neighboring Evanston opens a whole host of other recreation and entertainment options.
Wilmette has become the dining destination on the North Shore. A casual stroll through downtown Wilmette yields a host of excellent dining options, all within walking distance of many homes in east and central Wilmette. From classic urban eateries such as Nick’s and Valley Lodge to ethnic delights like Depot Nuevo, Trendy Taco, Koya Sushi House, Torino Ramen and Napolita Pizzeria & Wine Bar, many options exist including upscale options such as Pescadero Seafood & Oyster Bar. Casual pasta and pizza can be had at The Big Tomato or Lefty's Pizza Kitchen and the kids love stopping into Chuck Wagon for a hot dog and fries or Wilmette Subs for a toasty sandwich after school. If you have a craving for authentic French sweets and a desire to practice your French, check out Saint Roger Abbey Bakery. For fresh farm to table fare, check out Fuel near the Chase Bank building. Want to experience the taste of a Brooklyn bistro in your backyard? Visit Firefly on Green Bay Rd. Meet friends for a pre-dinner bottle of wine at The Bottle Shop or Wilmette Wine Cellars.
Heading north to Plaza del Lago along the lakefront, the incomparable elegance of Convito Italiano adds charm to anyone’s meal out (or "in" as their extensive carryout market is fabulous). Of course if you are looking for your obligatory latte or green tea, head to Starbucks.
The shops and restaurants on Linden near 4th Street offer additional options for a quick tasty meal, JP's Pizza & Grill. On a hot day, you can cool off with a frozen treat from Homer's Homemade Ice-Cream, or Cocomero Frozen Yogurt.
Breakfast is always a treat at Walker Bros. The Original Pancake House (on Green Bay Road), Hotcakes, Panera and the Ridgeview Grill also serve up an excellent satisfying meal for breakfast and beyond. For those morning rushes, grab your Joe and go from one of our many Starbuck's, or Alchemy (near the 4th and Linden line).
West Wilmette offers great sushi, Ao Sushi and Akai Hana. For real Chicago pizza, get carry out at Lou Malnati's pizza. Mei Lin offers authentic Chinese fare. Just over the border in Glenview, you will find a true watering hole serving burgers and beers since 1933 - Meier's Tavern.
The French Market in Wilmette
Throughout the spring, summer and fall, check out Wilmette's own outdoor French Market. Open on Saturday's, the market offers a variety of fresh goods such as produce, flowers, cheeses, breads, coffee, crepes and beautiful crafts from local and regional vendors.
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