The joke among locals is to express surprise if someone has to drive all the way west to Skokie Boulevard. "Why go fight traffic," we ask, "when everything we need is right here?" Kids independently riding down the sidewalks on skateboards or bikes, or parents walking their children to school along with the family dog chatting with other parents, these are the scenes from a walking community where you do not have to drive everywhere you go.
Wilmette was given a top rating as a transit-friendly suburb by the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development at DePaul University in Chicago. "The commuter rail station is to a suburb what the airport is to a city-the gateway to the world," according to a DePaul University expert on public policy and transportation. See story in Chicagomag.com and Travel Is no Travail. Wilmette is fortunate to have excellent public transportation including Metra Railroad Service CTA Service , and Pace Bus Service as well as easy access to the Edens Expressway.
Most people already know the schools here are fabulous. What they might not know is the wonderful sense of community that is found among the families at McKenzie Elementary School partly brought together by its well-loved variety show. Wilmette Junior High has twice been given National Blue Ribbon recognition by the U. S. Secretary of Education. New Trier is known for its academic excellence and for the large investment it makes in every student. New Trier spends about $15,000 yearly per student, well above the state average of about $9000 per year.
The school was also identified as "quite possibly the best public school in America" by Town & Country Magazine in a six-page article on New Trier that cited the "rich and demanding" curriculum, extensive arts and activities, strong participation in athletics, and faculty of the caliber typically found teaching at good colleges. Life Magazine also recognized New Trier as one of the best high schools in America with cover stories in 1950 and 1998.
Receiving Tree City U.S.A. status for thirty years, the streets are shady, brick-paved, and lit with quaint old-fashioned street lights. The architecturally distinctive homes are elegant in a community where families live for generations. In 2007 Business Week rated Wilmette one of the best places in the country to raise children. Chicago Magazine also rated it among the best places to live. It is a family-friendly community with over 300 acres of park land including the beautiful 59-acre Gillson Park on Lake Michigan's shore as well as 12 tot lots and baseball, football, and soccer fields throughout the village. We have a well-funded library open seven days a week thanks to a community that values education. What you might not know unless you live here is that we have one of the nicest beaches in the entire metropolitan area, or that the local garage sales are a delightful tradition, or that the French Market (Wilmette's version of a farmer's market) is not just for shopping but a weekly social event, or that the Memorial Day Parade is one of the most poignant and timeless small-town events we have where we honor those who gave their lives in service to their country from as far back as the Civil War. Wilmette is not like other towns. We are a community.