Neighborhood Spotlight: Wilmette

The serene Chicago-suburbs neighbor of Evanston, Wilmette offers proximity to the hustle and bustle of the city while also serving as an oasis of coffee shops, local boutiques and expansive parkscapes. Wilmette is home to three of our communities, Lake Courts, 1618 Sheridan Road and Optima Center Wilmette, and today we’re spotlighting why we, our residents and our commercial tenants love this Chicago suburb.

Outdoor Leisure 

Bordered by Lake Michigan on the east and sprawling golf courses on the west, Wilmette is the perfect suburban hub for those that love leisurely outdoor activities. For lakefront fanatics, Gillson Park is an expansive reserve with beach access, perfect for swimming, sailing, picnicking, tennis, hiking and more. For casual and competitive golf hobbyists alike, Wilmette Golf Club is the best public golf course challenge in the area.

Baháʼí House of Worship
Baháʼí House of Worship

Cultural Institutions

No Chicago suburb is complete without the inclusion of a wide-ranging and diverse array of cultural institutions. Wilmette is the proud home to the Baháʼí House of Worship, one of only eight of its kind. The continental temple is an architectural marvel, worth the visit just to explore its gardens and interior and learn more about the faith. The Wilmette Historical Museum is also a fantastic local resource for learning more about the city’s story and roots.

Shopping and Dining

Wilmette’s central business district, conveniently located near public transportation, is a distinctively different shopping experience that includes an abundance of restaurants and specialty stores. Explore the Wilmette French Market, an outdoor shopping experience with produce, jewelry and more. Restaurants in the area include everyone’s favorite, Walker Bros. Original Pancake House, Convito Cafe and Market, Pescadero and countless more. 

Stay tuned for more neighborhood spotlights on our other Optima communities.

Neighborhood Spotlight: Evanston

Just north of Chicago, Evanston merges the best of city and suburban living with a quaint-yet-thriving downtown, ample access to public transportation, the Northwestern University campus and a prime lakeside location. The site of high-rise buildings downtown, beautiful historic houses on tree-lined streets, and several Optima condominiums (Optima Towers, Optima Views, Optima Horizons, 840 Michigan, North Pointe), today we’re diving into what makes Evanston a great place to call home.

The Bahai Temple in Evanston, IL
The Bahai Temple in Wilmette, IL

Arts & Culture

While Chicago’s iconic museums are only a purple-line train ride away, Evanston is home to its own thriving local art scene. The Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University hosts dynamic and global art exhibits, while institutions such as the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian and the Halim Time & Glass Museum showcase unique exhibits of their own. Right next to Evanston, the Wilmette neighborhood is home to the Bahai Temple, a stunningly architected house of worship that’s worth a visit just for a summertime stroll through its gardens alone.

Shopping and Dining

Evanston’s downtown core is the proud home to hyperlocal boutiques and restaurants that range from traditional staples to niche experiences. For more adventurous shoppers, The Spice House is a global fresh-ground store going sixteen years strong, while Dave’s Down to Earth Rock Shop is a rock/jewelry/bead shop with a basement fossil museum. Meanwhile, Vintage Garage Chicago is a monthly flea market that takes place in the lot just next door to Optima Views. 

It’s also never hard to find a good bite to eat in Evanston, with fan-favorites like Found, a hot spot offering seasonal farm-to-table fare, and Dinkel’s Bakery, the only place to be on Fat Tuesday.

Evanston lakefront
Evanston lakefront

Urban Nature Experiences

With a prime lakeside location, naturally Evanston has an abundance of lush parks, beaches and lakefront trails perfect for strolling, jogging and biking. Evanston’s lakeshore is also home to the historic Grosse Pointe Lighthouse, an iconic landmark bordered by the beautiful Harley Clarke Mansion and Lighthouse beach. And closer to downtown, the Merrick Rose Garden offers temporary reprieve from streets and storefronts for those who want to stop and smell the roses.

Stay tuned for more neighborhood spotlights on our other Optima communities.

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