Laura Schwartz’s family made the move from Chicago to La Grange, and NEVER looked back. See why they love life in La Grange, with this insider peak at one of Chicago’s hottest suburbs.
Historic homes with front porches, trains to the city and a cute downtown — those features jumped right out at us when we first toured La Grange. But, as we quickly discovered, that was just the beginning. Because, while these initial impressions drew us in, the sense of community and the people who call it home helped us fall in love with La Grange.
For our family, La Grange is the perfect balance of a quaint, small town plus a decidedly urban feel. Most of the homes in La Grange are within walking distance of the Metra — another huge selling point for us and plenty of commuting families like us.
Make a Night of It…
Most homes are walkable to La Grange’s vibrant downtown, which has a great mix of restaurants and retail — again, another massive selling point for our crew. Now that we live here we have some local favorites. On a typical Friday night we love walking into town with our kids and picking from one of the many great restaurants, all right there, with ample seating even on a popular night-out. One favorite — Nicksons — has an amazing beef brisket grilled cheese, but also the best tacos in La Grange.
Then after dinner? If the kids have their way, we wind up at Tates, an old-fashioned ice cream shop owned by one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, Maria Marciniec. Every kid who grew up in the area will, no doubt, have fond memories of eating ice cream at Tates. Whether its hosting hula hoop contests outside the store on a Friday night or hiding Tates coins in parks for neighborhood kids to find and redeem for a free cone, Maria thinks of ways to connect the community and provide family fun. Kids especially love going to Tates in the winter to make gingerbread houses and, all year, for birthday parties — not only do you get the best ice cream, but the kids get to make fun crafts while they’re there.
In that vein, my kids also love being able to walk to the La Grange Theater, where we can all catch a movie and eat what is, without a doubt, the very best movie popcorn I’ve ever had. And for date night? My husband and I love Steak and Vine, where the drinks are served by friendly, knowledgeable bartenders and the food is delicious. The shrimp and grits are amazing and my husband raves about their perfectly-cooked steaks every time we go. Rounding out our recs is Vintage Charm, a fashion and home boutique that sells cute clothes, accessories and home decor. It’s virtually impossible to walk out without something new for yourself, too, whether it be a cute pair of earrings or a unique frame — you’ve been warned!
We’re All About WALKING
Clearly, La Grange is a walking town — and that comes with huge perks. Besides the obvious — hitting all of these hotspots on foot — it’s so easy to get to know your neighbors when you’re all moving about town, sans cars. I attribute that to La Grange’s deep sense of community which, hands down, you’ll see on any summer or fall weekend. Everyone is out and about, on their bikes and zigzagging to block parties or stopping by their neighbor’s for a cup of coffee and a quick chat.
All of this comes back to one thing: community. I’ll never forget when I had my third child and my husband went back to work. My neighbors immediately brought over a delicious lunch and offered to take my older two — both toddlers at the time — to the park so I could have alone time with the new baby. It was an amazing gesture and a true lifesaver as I struggled to balance three little ones who all needed my attention.
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I have so many examples just like that, and I know my friends and neighbors do, too. People take care of each other in La Grange, and treat neighborhood kids like their own. One of our favorite community events in the summer is the Pet Parade, which is the first Saturday in June. Local businesses and organizations create floats and the whole town lines the streets to watch the fun. In December, we never miss Hometown Holiday, which is hosted by the La Grange Business Association the first Saturday in December.
The first year we went I looked around and saw kids on their dads’ shoulders trying to get the best view of Santa as he arrived on a fire truck while the entire town sang, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” In that moment, I knew we were in a special place — a place that values tradition, family and small business. We walked around and saw ice sculptures, stopped in the shops to start our holiday shopping and got treated to hot chocolate and candy canes. We made so many memories that night and, now, it’s become one of our very favorite annual traditions.
Now that we’ve made a home and a life here, it’s hard to imagine being anywhere else. We love living in La Grange, and are always eager to welcome new people to this bustling, community-first ‘burb.
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