Wheatonians have always enjoyed themselves, and in 2023, the Chicago suburb has more to offer than ever before. Less than 30 miles from downtown Chicago, Wheaton is known for its great mix of small-town charm and top amenities. Locals love the town’s peaceful tree-lined streets and beautiful spots like Cantigny Park and the Herrick Lake Forest Preserve. To live in Wheaton is to enjoy incredible food, a happening nightlife scene, and the company of fellow neighbors.
What’s more, Wheaton is home to a thriving arts and entertainment scene, with world-class theaters, art galleries, and the renowned Wheaton College Conservatory of Music. From its vibrant annual events to more regularly scheduled activities, there’s no shortage of things to do in Wheaton. Read on to explore the best of Wheaton from an insider’s point of view.
A host of exciting events
Ask any resident, and chances are, they’ll recommend the Wheaton French Market as a great way to explore Wheaton and get your bearings in this wonderful town. The local farmers’ market takes place each Saturday at the corner of Main and Liberty near the Illinois Prairie Path. The market runs from April through November and boasts an exciting lineup of goods, including fresh flowers, artisan foods, and live music.
Wheaton’s wide-ranging roster of annual events makes it a truly vibrant place to call home. You can always look forward to celebrations like the Fourth of July, the Downtown Wheaton Chili Cookoff, and the Festival of Cultures. Some of Wheaton’s best children-oriented events are Dinos Downtown Wheaton and Movies Under the Stars. Adults can enjoy semiregular bike tours and the annual summer wine walk. In winter, the town comes alive for the holiday season with the Festival of Lights & Tree Sale at Cosley Zoo, the Lions Club Reindeer Run, and Ice-A-Palooza.
Wheaton’s free and fun attractions
Wheaton families love spending an afternoon at the Cosley Zoo, a quaint home for playful otters, majestic birds of prey, and adorable farm animals. The zoo is free to Wheaton residents and houses over 200 animals and 50 species. The beautifully landscaped grounds are perfect for learning about conservation and observing creatures up close. Check out the duck feeding program, the “creepy crawlies” exhibit, the zoo’s annual Pumpkin Fest, or Cosley Zoo Uncorked.
Another must-visit attraction in Wheaton is the DuPage County Historical Museum, which offers free admission and accepts optional donations. Housed in a historic Victorian mansion, this museum provides a fascinating journey through the area's past.
For those seeking outdoor adventures, the Illinois Prairie Path is a fantastic free resource in Wheaton that spans over 60 miles and is perfect for hiking, biking, and strolls through nature. A few blocks north of the path, Memorial Park and its outdoor bandshell is a great place to take in free concerts, including music by the DuPage Symphony Orchestra, and plays at Shakespeare in the Park.
Arts in Wheaton
The Chicago suburb has a flair for the arts in common with the Windy City. Exhibit A is Wheaton Drama, a local institution since 1931, where auditions are held for plays throughout the year. Aspiring actors of all ages can take drama lessons or volunteer for shows. The theater is a great way to involve yourself in the arts; upcoming plays include Titanic the Musical, Elf the Musical, Jr., and Seven Keys to Baldpate.
For a night out with plenty of laughs, buy tickets at the Westside Improv Studio. The venue hosts long-form improv shows throughout the week in downtown Wheaton. Management is very receptive whether you’d like to watch shows, learn improv, or perform on-stage. To complete the ambiance, the studio has a new bar. Tickets are $12, and over a dozen improv teams are part of the regular lineup.
Arts programs flourish in Wheaton. Located in the center of town, The DuPage Art League is a non-profit art school and gallery offering classes for adults and children held in-person and online. Monthly galleries come with prizes, while workshops are held weekly. Visit the onsite gift shop to browse arts and crafts items in various mediums. If you love music, check out the Wheaton College Community School of the Arts, which offers lessons for instruments like piano, violin, viola, cello, and guitar.
The Wheaton nightlife scene
Wheaton may be known for its charming small-town atmosphere, but it also offers a bustling nightlife scene if you know where to go. The city boasts several popular spots for entertainment and socializing, such as Proof No. 5, where you’ll find excellent American cuisine and creative cocktails. Locals also patronize Adelle’s Fine American Fare, a more upscale spot with weekly live jazz performances in a swanky setting.
Wheaton shops and restaurants
Wheaton is ideal for anyone who appreciates the camaraderie of independent restaurants and small businesses. The town has an array of cafes — you can start your day at places like Altiro Wheaton Coffee Shop, Egg Harbor Cafe, Egg’lectic Cafe, and Five & Hoek Coffee. One of the area’s most renowned eateries is Suzette's Creperie, a delightful French bistro with a savory and sweet crepes menu and an extensive wine list.
When locals are looking for a night of upscale dining, they often head to Adelle’s or Ivy Restaurant, both of which have elegant ambiances and contemporary American dishes. For upscale retail, shoppers head to downtown Wheaton to peruse items at Wyckwood House Wheaton and Kilwin’s. Rice Lake Square is another popular destination that houses upscale retailers like Anthropologie and Williams-Sonoma.
Getting outdoors in Wheaton
Alongside the fabulous shops and restaurants, some of the best things to do in Wheaton allow locals to embrace nature. Cantigny Park is a popular choice, with its 500 acres of sprawling estate that boasts vast, stunning gardens, golf greens, and tranquil walking paths. Visitors can explore the beautifully manicured gardens, visit the First Division Museum, or relax by the reflecting pools. The Glow in the Park event is a great way to make the most of this beautiful green space.
For those looking to immerse themselves in nature, Herrick Lake is a must-visit. This expansive preserve features scenic trails that wind through woodlands, wetlands, and prairies, perfect for hiking, biking, and bird-watching. Fishing enthusiasts can also cast a line in the serene lake, while picnickers can find the ideal spot to enjoy a leisurely outdoor meal.
For water sports and recreation, the Rice Pool and Water Park is the perfect summer escape with its pools, water slides, and splash areas for all ages.
Country clubs and golf courses
In terms of exquisite country clubs and golf spots, Wheaton is proud to be home to the prestigious Arrowhead Golf Club. Its 27-hole championship golf course features meticulously maintained fairways, challenging greens, and beautiful water features. The club also offers a clubhouse with dining options, a golf league, a pro shop, and event spaces for special occasions.
Additionally, there’s the Chicago Golf Club, one of the oldest and most esteemed clubs in the United States. This highly prestigious and private club boasts a historic golf course that has hosted major championships and is renowned for its pristine fairways and challenging layout.
Call Wheaton home with an expert by your side
Thanks to its variety of outstanding restaurants, unique shops, excellent golf courses, and abundant outdoor recreational opportunities, Wheaton provides a balanced and fulfilling lifestyle, no matter where your interests lie.
If these top things to do in Wheaton have intrigued you and you’re captivated by the community’s charm and elegance, find the perfect place to call home by working with trusted broker Anne Thompson. Anne is a highly knowledgeable and experienced real estate expert who can help you navigate each part of the buying process with ease. Contact Anne today to embark on your journey toward calling beautiful Wheaton home.
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