A west suburban destination that combines the tranquility of a historic downtown with the vibrancy of a contemporary, upscale shopping center
Photo courtesy of Village of Lombard
Lombard is one of those towns with local color. Literally.
Light purple is the shade of choice in this western suburb of more than 43,000 residents, thanks to the scores of lilac trees that grace local landscapes and have subsequently helped define Lombard — celebrating its 150th year in 2019 — as the “Lilac Village.”
The hue adorns street signs, banners and other elements around the village and exemplifies Lombard’s unmistakable vibrancy, from its charming downtown to its bustling shopping, dining and entertainment district to its festivals and recreational areas. There are all kinds of ways to paint this town purple.
Bloom Where They’re Planted
No west suburban town says it with flowers in quite the same way as Lombard. A springtime visit will open your eyes to the charm of Lombard’s historic downtown area, complete with parks, walkways — and, of course, flowering lilacs.
Breathe in the fragrance . . . and savor the sight of lilacs in bloom at Lilacia Park. Stroll the grounds of this 8.5-acre park where 700 lilacs and 25,000 tulips are flowering this time of year. Lilacia Park, by famous landscape designer Jens Jensen, was donated to the village nearly a hundred years ago by Colonel William Plum and his wife. It is now run by the Lombard Park District. Events are held here year round, like the holiday lights display in December.
Celebrate Lilac Time . . . the annual event inspired by the blooms in Lilacia Park. The festival runs from May 1 through May 19. Witness the crowning of the Lilac Queen, sample wines and local craft beers, browse an arts and crafts fair and listen to concerts. Bring your pet to sniff out the fun too, at the Lombard Park District’s Lilac Mutt Strut 5K and Puppy Path. Watch the 150th annual Lilac Parade on Sunday, May 19 starting at 1:30 p.m. at Main and Wilson streets.
Bring home the blooms . . . Find a lilac bush to plant at home at a special lilac bush and plant sale on May 9 and 10 at Lilacia Park, sponsored by the Lombard Garden Club and the Lombard Park District.
Go Old School
If Lilac Time seems like something out of a movie about a charming Midwest village, downtown Lombard (known as Lombard Town Centre) combines quaintness with cool things to do and see, too.
See the church, the steeple and all the people . . . at Maple Street Chapel. It’s hard to miss with its American Gothic architecture and towering spire. Maintained by The Maple Street Chapel Preservation Society, the historic church, dedicated in 1870, is a landmark and a continuing attraction, with ceremonies and concerts offered yearlong.
Throw it back a century and a half . . . and see how early residents lived in the Victorian Cottage, a historical museum that depicts life in that era in Lombard. Come for the tour of the home and stay for a peek at the lovely gardens, maintained by the Lombard Garden Club.
Step inside the town’s oldest home . . at the Sheldon Peck Homestead, built around 1840. The white-sided farmhouse, once a stop on the Underground Railroad, offers several exhibits on local history, including a new one on Peck that opens June 4.
Little Orphan Annie got her fictional start . . . at the Dr. William Leroy House, which was once the studio of the man who started the Little Orphan Annie cartoon that inspired the big screen movies.
Walk up to an old-time ice-cream stand . . . at Dairy Queen, complete with a retro sign and a crowd of Little Leaguers waiting for cones, and order a soft serve cone or other frozen treat.
See how Lombard is both lilac and plum . . . at least at the Helen Plum Library, adjacent to Lilacia Park. The library, which is seeking final funding for a renovation and building project, offers a plethora of resources and programs for all ages. Foodies, check out the A-to-Z World Food Database, featuring international recipes, cultural information and ingredient articles about foods around the world.
Dinner, Java and More
If you delight in indulgence, downtown Lombard is your destination. Here are just a few options — there are many more at www.lombardtowncenter.org.
Get a little history as you drink or dine . . . at Babcock’s Grove House, an inviting restaurant named for the original settlement in this area and decorated with photos of village founders and early leaders.
Stop by for a drink next door at the new Lilac League Cocktail Bar, housed in the same building that was the site of a hotel in the 1850s. Satisfy your cravings . . . at other bars and eateries in downtown Lombard, including Bricks Wood-Fired Pizza, Main Street Café, Praga, Marquette Kitchen and Tap, Punky’s Pub, Shannon’s Corner Butcher Shoppe and Deli, to name a few. Indulge your sweet tooth at Sweet Street Candies and Goodies.
Find out what the (caffeine) buzz is about . . . at The Corner House, an independent coffee shop in downtown Lombard. While there, check the regularly rotating corner gallery of pieces from local artists. Make your own art, too, at the shop’s “color station,” with coloring pages created by a local artist.
For a calorie-free indulgence . . . treat yourself at Fringe Salon and Spa, which offers a variety of services and products for hair and skin – and a tranquil soul.
Shop, Dine and Do at Yorktown Center and Beyond
A parallel world to Lombard’s historic downtown is one of the west suburbs’ top shopping destinations — Yorktown Center. See firsthand how today’s malls are evolving by exploring this vibrant retail mall, with brand stores, plenty of distinctive boutiques and a slew of other activities.
Shop to your heart’s content . . . at anchor stores Von Maur and JC Penney and at dozens of stores specializing in apparel, jewelry, gifts, electronics and other items.
Discover the fun of browsing . . . at curiosity shops like FairyTales on St. Charles Rd., Paradiso on Park Ave., or 25 Silver Boutique inside Yorktown Center.
Dine in style . . . at one of many fine eateries in Yorktown Center, including The Capital Grille, RA Sushi Bar and DOC Wine Bar. In the nearby Westin Hotel are twin restaurants Harry Caray’s and Holy Mackerel! Also close by are perennial favorites like Greek Islands on 22nd St. and, a newcomer, Yard House at Fountain Square.
Or keep it casual . . . at any of the options in the area rimming the mall and lining nearby 22nd Street, Butterfield Road and Highland Ave. The mall interior offers several places to eat, too, ranging from quick-service spots in The Eatery (the mall’s food court) to a dine-in AMC movie theatre.
Next, burn those calories . . . and build muscle for power shopping by working out at places like CycleBar, UFC Gym, The Barre Code and Orangetheory Fitness. Baby can come along, too, at Fit4MOM stroller stride and stroller barre classes. There’s also a Humana-sponsored walking group.
Play games . . . at WickedBall, which offers “bubble ball” soccer and archery, or jump around at FunFlatables.
Spiff up your looks . . . at various beauty and health locales at Yorktown Center. The eyes have it at places like Brow Art 23 and Amazing Lash Studio. Go for a makeover at Asha Salonspa, 18/8 Fine Men’s Salon, European Wax Center, Mario Tricoci Hair Salon or Paul Mitchell, among others.
There are plenty of opportunities to get festive at special events, offered both in downtown Lombard and in the retail/dining/entertainment complex in and around Yorktown Center.
Raise a glass at the Lombard Ale Fest . . . with friends or family on June 8. The event features more than 80 craft brews, food trucks and live music.
Raise a stein at GermanFest . . . from July 18 – 21, put on by Sacred Heart Church.
Or sip while you shop . . . at Lombard’s Wine Walk, an annual event in downtown Lombard. Sometimes, all it takes is a little tipple with friends to persuade yourself you must have that fabulous new outfit!
Did we mention beer? Sample even more brews at Noon Whistle Brewing Company, which opens its taproom and hosts special events throughout the year.
Go into overdrive at Cruise Nights on Saturday nights beginning June 9. Gawk at classic cars and listen to music at free concerts during this downtown event.
Party like a patriot at the Fourth of July fireworks, which will be shot off near Madison Meadows Park.
Sing Happy Birthday to Lombard . . . at the official celebration of the village’s sesquicentennial, set for August 1, with an ice cream social at the Historical Society.
It’s finally nice outside, so take advantage of spring and summer weather in Lombard, which has trails, parks and open lands in addition to recreational and sporting attractions.
Make a splash . . . at Paradise Bay Water Park when it opens this month. Wade into the zero-depth pool, zip down the body slide, drop slide or speed slide or dive into a 12-ft well at this facility, which is operated by the Lombard Park District.
Tee off or toss a disc . . . at the Lombard Disc Golf Course, or take a traditional swing at golf at the Lombard Golf Course. Test your axe-throwing skills at Chicagoland’s largest axe-throwing facility, Axeplosion.
Lace up for some old-school fun . . . at the Lombard Roller Rink. Beyond free-skating around the floor, the facility offers instructional classes for all ages along with Zumba-on-wheels and roller derby classes.
Play a round of laser tag or hop in a bumper car at Enchanted Castle, an entertainment center that also offers amusement rides, inflatables, a play area and other activities for children of all ages.
Take bumper cars to the next level at WhirlyBall, where you can play a mix of lacrosse and basketball with a whiffle ball, all while riding in a bumper car.
Best of all, enjoy the open air . . . Break out the bike or running shoes on the Prairie Path and Great Western Trail that cut through Lombard. Enjoy the scenery of the forest preserves and parks that link to the paths.Edit Module