Cities Journal

Top 13 Small Cities in Illinois

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Photo credit: davidwilson1949 / Flickr

12. Winnetka

Just seventeen miles from Chicago, the village of Winnetka offers a stark contrast to the big city lifestyle without sacrificing any of the resources. According to Area Vibes, violent crime rates in Winnetka are 90% lower than the state average, and its 27 police officers maintain an ideal cop-to-citizen ratio that is 21.1% above average.

If you live here for the small-city safety but leave for the big-city jobs, you can board the Union Pacific Line to Chicago at one of three Metra stations: Hubbard Woods Station on Gage Street, Winnetka Station on Elm Street, or Indian Hill Station on Green Bay Road. The line includes express routes to Chicago’s Ogilvie Transportation Center.

This low-crime, intimate village owes a lot to its involved city government, which gives online details about regulations that affect everything from pets to cars. One law requires not just a leash but a dog license for each dog in public, while another keeps the town scenery in perfect shape by prohibiting public garage sale advertising. You can’t even park on public streets between 2 AM and 6 AM.

The Winnetka Park District gives you plenty of options during the daylight hours, though: it even has its own ice arena with a figure skating program, annual ice show and hockey club. The Winnetka Warriors host league training sessions, as well as championships and games against local opponents.

If hockey’s not your thing, practice your swing or play a round at Winnetka Golf Club and drive range; you can also reap the generosity of the first family of TV ratings at the A.C. Nielsen Tennis Center. Five of twelve outdoor courts are lighted for nighttime practice, while eight more indoor courts keep your serve in shape all winter.
The Winnetka-Glencoe Patch says Winnetka Village Green includes landmarks such as the Cenotaph and Moffett Hall.

One of its biggest draws, however, is the 23-acre beachfront park that borders Lake Michigan and includes three different beaches with swimming access, a boat launch, the Lloyd Sailing Center, and even a dog beach called Centennial Beach. This North Shore suburb might take up less than four square miles, but it’s big enough to keep thousands of families safe, active, and happy.

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