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 a vibrant local downtown area.
In short, it’s the quintessential place to raise a family and, in 2007, Business Week Magazine agreed, naming Wilmette the “Seventh Best Place to Raise Kids in the US.” Wilmette’s adorable downtown neighbors 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 2013.
For early education, Romona School houses the District 39 Connecting Kids fee-based pre-school. Additionally, there are many excellent private options such as Banner, Ronald Knox Montessori, Wilmette Park District, Trinity, Rose Hall Montessori, St. Francis Xavier and St. Joe’s. Both ½ day and full-day pre-school programs exist. For ½ day options, institutions such as the Wilmette Park District and Winnetka Community House offer many excellent Kindergarten Enrichment programs, some with busing service, to supplement your pre-schoolers 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, Faith, Hope and Charity and St. Joe’s. For high school, Loyola Academy, North Shore Country Day and Regina Dominican offer additional top-notch educational opportunities.
Central, Regina, Romona, Saint Francis, Wilmette Junior High and New Trier schools have all earned the prestigeful 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 The Rock House, Illinois Baseball Academy, Fisher Dance 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 (Eagles Football), baseball (Kenilworth-Winnetka Baseball Association), basketball (Wilmette Wolves) and swimming (Flying Fish or New Trier).
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 oif the city in about 34 minutes. 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 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 as well.
Many residents choose to drive the approximate 19 miles in and out of the city for work. There are several Bay/Ridge Avenue. 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.
The Sporting Life:
Wilmette is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise! Its proximity to Lake Michigan’s beautiful sandy shores provides sun and swim activities galore! Willmette offers three public beaches for its residents: Gilson, Langdon and Chestnut Street beaches. Additionally, there is a sailing beach (with watercraft rentals and resident sailing permits available) as well as a dog beach for four-legged friends.
Gilson Park, the crown jewel of Wilmette’s beaches spans 60 acres along the lakefront. Gilson offers lifeguarded swimming areas, a beach house and concessions stand, a children’s beach park and a large grassy picnic area. Additionally, Gilson Park is home to the amazing outdoor lakefront ampitheater, the Wallace Bowl, which hosts free live musical theater events and musical groups throughout the summer months. Imagine lazy summer days building sand castles and eating popsicles - 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 Gilson” 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 ts 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 and , in 2014, is finishing 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. New for 2014 , is Wilmette’s Platform Tennis Club, also on the western side of town. The year-round four-court complex and 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 , Gilson and Malincrodt 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 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), the Actors Training Center (offering top industry acting lessons and live performances from its company members) and the Rock House (also offering music lessons and live concerts from special guest performers).
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. Wilmette is just a short drive from Chicago’s Botanic Garden in Glencoe, offering 385 acres of well manicured gardens and nature preserves. 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.
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 Gilson’s to ethnic delights like Depot Nuevo and KamaKura Sushi House. Upscale options such as Wilmette Chophouse and Avenue offer scrumptious steaks and fish. Casual pasta and pizza can be had at The Big Tomato and the kids love stopping into Chuck Wagon for a hot dog and fries or Wilmette Subs for a toasty sandwich after school. For fresh farm to table fare, check out Fuel near the Chase Bank building. Of course, another favorite with both adults and area teens is the pizza and live music at The Rock House. Or, if you are in the mood for a more serene environment, The Bottle Shop offers the finest vintages by the glass as well as by the bottle.
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). Or perhaps a simple slice of pizza at No Man Land’s after a day at the beach is more your style.
The shops and restaurants on Linden near 4th Street offer additional options for a quick tasty meal. JP's Pizza & Grill as well as Mrs. D's Diner. On a hot day, you can cool off with a frozen treat from Homer's Homeade Ice-Cream, Bobtail Ice cream or Cocomero Frozen Yogurt.
Breakfast is always a treat at 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 you Joe and go from one of our many Starbuck's, The Rock House (near the Metra station) or Alchemy (near the 4th and Linden line).
Throughout the spring, summer and fall, check out Wilmette's own outdoor French Market, on Saturday's from offering a variety of transitional farmer's market goods such as produce, flowers, cheeses and breads from local and regional vendors.
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