Oak Park is best known for the association with Frank Lloyd Wright who designed many homes and community buildings in Oak Park and also made his residence in Oak Park.
Residents in this community cherish history and value a vintage and classical style. This safe community offers good schools and family fun with the convenience of easy access to Downtown Chicago.
Most importantly, Oak Park offers art and culture right at home without a trip to the big city. Theater groups in Oak Park have been long-standing parts of the community, some with over 35 years of performing.
Oak Park attracts college students as well as families with children or couples looking to raise a family in a safe neighborhood. People are attracted to Oak Park for its unique dining and retail shopping, but the environment of this village surrounds the residents with beautiful homes and gardens and parks.
Oak Park homes and neighborhoods have preserved some of the residences built in the early 1900s and have added vintage style with modern amenities that please both style and comfort. Many homes in Oak Park were built with distinction and vary from their neighbors, unlike most suburbs who repeat architectural style and layout.
Oak Park is located in Cook County, directly west of Chicago, and the first west suburb bordering Chicago. The location so close to Chicago gives Oak Park the advantage of city transportation including the CTA Green line and CTA Blue line trains.
About 10 miles from the Chicago loop, the commute from Oak Park into the city is by car is fast and convenient which offers an advantage to residents who enjoy the city’s entertainment and nightlife.
Bordering Oak Park is the affluent town of River Forest, as well as Forest Park, Berwyn and, Cicero, as well as Chicago neighborhoods Austin and Galewood.
Oak Park’s nearest expressway is Interstate 290 which goes east into Chicago and also west to northwestern suburbs.
Dan Castellaneta was born in Oak Park, and is now an actor and voice of Homer Simpson from The Simpsons.
Author Ernest Hemingway was born and raised in Oak Park and graduated from Oak Park and River Forest High School.
Betty White, long time actress from TV shows like the Golden Girls, was born in Oak Park.
Oak Park was founded in 1835 when Joseph and Betty Kettlestrings established a farm near the center of what is now downtown Oak Park. Being one of few settlements nearby, the Kettlestrings began using their home as a tavern and allowed travelers to dine and sleep in their home for a fair price.
Although more settlers began to move into the area in 1844, it wasn’t until 1902 that the area became formerly known as Oak Park. A good deal of the residents in the area arrived after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 as many city residents began to migrate to the suburbs.
Frank Lloyd Wright built about 30 homes and structures in Oak Park and even made Oak Park his residence from 1879 to 1909.
Many homes in Oak Park are 19th century Victorian style mansions but can neighbor smaller and homes. In fact, 66% of homes were built before 1939 but many include modern renovations and the comforts of new construction.
Other types of homes in Oak Park include prairie, bungalows, stucco, and frame and brick homes. Property in Oak Park never gives the inhabitants a cookie-cutter feel and each block is a mixture of style.
Oak Park rentals include modern tall buildings with underground parking and brick buildings with porches and hardwood floors.
For residents who own cars, Oak Park parking can be a difficulty in some neighborhoods. Overnight parking on streets require permits and residents of Oak Park can purchase guest parking passes. Most homes in Oak Park include driveways for private, off street parking. Private paid lots are also available.
Downtown Oak Park parking uses metered parking ($1.00/hour and free on Sundays) for those wishing to visit all the restaurants, shopping, and other attraction in the central area of Oak Park. There is not any overnight parking in Downtown Oak Park.
Many people in Oak Park do not own cars because Oak Park walking is one of the best modes of transportation. When weather conditions are too adverse for walking, many buses operate to make travel within Oak Park convenient.
If looking for an alternative train into the city from the CTA Green line and CTA Blue line trains, a Metra station is located within Oak Park and connect the Chicago Oglivie Station with far west suburb Elburn, IL.
Both CTA and Pace Buses operate in and to Oak Park. The CTA routes include CTA Route 72 - North, CTA Route 86 - Narragansett/Ridgeland, CTA Route 91 - Austin, and CTA Route 20 Madison OWL. Additional CTA bus services serve the neighboring Austin neighborhood.
Pace bus routes include the following:
Route 305 Cicero-River Forest
Route 307 Harlem Avenue
Route 309 Lake Street
Route 311 Oak Park Avenue
Route 313 St. Charles Road
Route 315 Austin-Ridgeland
Route 318 West North Avenue
Route 320 Madison Street
For convenience, the CTA Chicago Transit Card can be used to pay train fares and bus fares for both CTA and Pace bus. The card can also be reloaded with funds online and lost cards can be replaced..
Blue Cab taxi services offer 24-hour services all over chicagoland and Oak Park. If looking for the more unconventional way around town, Rickshaw Rick’s Tours and Taxi will take you around town and provide children’s transportation to and from day care and so forth.
Oak Park Schools are excellent and draw people to live in Oak Park. There are ten public elementary/middle schools, ten private elementary/middles school, one private high school, and one public high school in Oak Park.
Much of Oak Park nightlife is centered around good dining experiences and fun family-friendly environments. The CTA and public transportation allows residents of Oak Park to travel to downtown Chicago to enjoy the big city nightlife. Neighboring Forest Park bars are also available to Oak Park residents and feature many casual, intimate, and relaxing pubs.
Downtown Oak Park is the perfect place for shopping without the crowd of a big mall. A pedestrian mall was created by using brick pavers on Marion Street giving the area a vintage and old town shopping experience.
One of the unique boutiques featured in Oak Park is Takara, a store that emphasizes international style and real women, real sizes, real fashion. 123 N. Marion Street, Oak Park, IL 60301 (708) 445-7511.
Other retail shops in Oak Park include Majamas, Barbara’s Bookstore, Gap, The Rocking Horse Boutique, Mad by Design, Geppetto’s Toy Store, Old Navy, Muse, Nora’s Shoe Shop, The Irish Shop, and more.
The historic Oak Park Lake Theater is the best place to catch a movie in Oak Park. The Lake Theater originally opened in 1936 and has undergone many renovations to expand the theater and add additional movie screens. 1022 Lake Street, Oak Park, IL 60301 (708) 848-9088.
For live theater, the Madison Street Theatre host plays and comedies year round and also offer classes and summer camp programs. 1010 W. Madison Street, Oak Park, IL 60302 (312) 282-1750.
Oak Park Festival Theater performs classic plays in Austin Gardens every summers for over 35 years. Austin Gardens is located near the corner of Lake and Forest. Because performances are outside, some shows get cancelled and tickets can be exchanged for another day. For more info, call (708) 445-4440 or email Oak Park Festival Theater.
Live classical music in Oak Park is performed by the Symphony of Oak Park and River Forest. PO Box 3564, Oak Park, Illinois 60303 708-218-2648.
For more live music performance and an added bonus of historic architecture, Unity Temple Concert Series provides a great artful experience. Unity Temple was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and some critics have labeled the Unity Temple as the first modern architectural building. 875 Lake Street, Oak Park, IL 60303 (708) 445-8955.
Oak Park restaurants offer a variety of dining experiences for visitors and residents.
For fine dining, Hemmingway’s Bistro offers a full breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, and desert menu. They combine french dishes with midwest ingredients and fly their fresh seafood from Boston directly. Currently, the head chef is Chef Ala from the historic Allerton hotel in downtown Chicago, and Hemmingway’s Bistro often hosts wine events.
With Oak Park’s convenient location near Chicago, authentic Chicago-style pizza should be not hard to find. The local Giordano’s in Oak Park offers some of the best deep dish pizza in the area with homemade pizza sauce and a flaky buttery crust. 1115 W. Chicago Ave, Oak Park, IL 60302 (708) 386-2223.
If looking for food outside the local palate, Klay Oven Restaurant offers Indian cuisine with many delicious dishes, vegetarian options, and a lunch buffet on weekends. Klay Oven also offers catering and private dining services. 734 Lake Street, Oak Park, IL 60301 (708) 386-3999.
The Park District of Oak Park maintains 25 parks and facilities that include pools, ice-rinks, sledding hills, baseball fields, gardens, basketball courts, skate parks, playgrounds, picnic areas. and more fun recreational features.
In the summer months, many festivals, farmers markets and local events attract residents to spend time outside. The Oak Park International Film Festival has been held every September since 2005 and features films about locals in the Oak Park area.
For a nearby Oak Park attraction, Brookfield Zoo is only a 15 minutes drive away and is open year round for fun family entertainment and education. Brookfield Zoo adds new exhibits each year and currently have a Dolphin show and a Stingray exhibit that lets you pet a stingray. 3300 Golf Road, Brookfield, IL 60513 (708) 485-2200.