One of my favorite places in the western suburbs of Chicago is the Riverwalk in Downtown Naperville. The 1.75 miles of brick and paved path paralleling the west branch of the DuPage River is a great place to go for a quick stroll or to spend the day.
Naperville ranked one of top cities for families
We have a feather to put in our cap! Livability.com recently ranked Naperville as one of the “Top 10 Best Cities for Families, 2015.”
The factors the company used to determine the most family-friendly cities included the population of children in the area, quality of public schools, graduation rates, poverty levels, access to community resources such as libraries and parks, kid-friendly activities, air quality, health standards, cost of living and average commute times.
So it sounds like all of you Naperville dwellers picked the perfect place to raise your little ones.
The longer and warmer days make this the perfect time to enjoy family time along the Naperville Riverwalk. Here are some of the reasons why I love it.
In addition to being a great place to walk, there is a lot to both see and do along the Riverwalk. There are often planned activities, such as the Spring Fever Reliever the Naperville Park District is hosting this upcoming weekend. The park district offers concerts in the summer, including the Children’s Lunch Hour Entertainments Series, and the Naperville Library has been known to host outdoor storytimes along the Riverwalk as well.
The path also passes by the Paddleboat Quarry, the Riverwalk Eatery, Centennial Beach, the Jaycee Playground and the inline skating/skateboarding at Centennial Park. There’s also the Carillon, where weekly recitals are held throughout the summer and at which guests can tour at appointed times.
Sometimes, the unplanned events are just as fun. One summer night we saw a couple get engaged, and family and friends materialized to congratulate the happy couple. People of all ages flock to the Riverwalk, making for good people watching. It’s fun to hear a variety of languages spoken along the path.
Sculptures dot the Riverwalk. There’s a nearly 9-foot-tall bronze sculpture of Dick Tracy, the iconic cartoon detective who was drawn by Naperville resident Dick Locher for decades.
The bright red, modern Landforms sculpture is also very eye catching. There are other sculptures along the way, including one of the visionaries responsible for the Riverwalk itself. There’s also a monument to those who have served in the armed forces.
Of the several fountains placed along the Riverwalk, the Dandelion Fountain is my favorite. It’s such a fun shape, and little ones just adore it. There’s also the Exchange Club Memories Fountain and a few others to see along the path, and they’re all pretty.
Maybe it’s because I grew up in a town in Ohio that took great pride in its covered bridges, but I love that the Riverwalk features three pedestrian covered bridges. You don’t see those every day in Chicago. They are fun reminders of times past.
The DuPage River itself is beautiful, and it’s fun to witness the changing seasons as reflected by the flora and fauna along its banks. There are many ducks who call the river home, and sometimes you can spot a heron and other wildlife.
The landscaping along the path varies from completely natural and seemingly untouched to impeccably manicured landscape with many planted flowers. I loved the many brightly colored tulips that were in full bloom this weekend.
Although the Riverwalk can be bustling on a pretty summer night, it is also possible to find a bit of peace and quiet along the path and to enjoy the natural beauty of the river.
One way to enjoy the many sensory experiences along the Riverwalk is by doing a scavenger hunt with your children. Have them look for different colors, shapes or objects. There’s a lot to see and do!