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How to Spend a Day on the Naperville Riverwalk

Jul 13th, 2016

Rain or shine, chilly or warm, the Naperville Riverwalk is an impressive and inspiring example of urban development. Impeccably planned and well-maintained, the “Crown Jewel of Naperville” is romantic, family-friendly, and serene. This swath of green space also lies within walking distance of most downtown Naperville businesses and attractions. As a result, the Riverwalk is a great place to spend a morning, afternoon, or entire day. Here are a few ways to enjoy your next visit.

Take a stroll

Set along the banks of the DuPage River, the Naperville Riverwalk boasts an idyllic setting in any season. Nearly two miles of pedestrian-only path makes the Riverwalk a rare refuge from 21st-century vehicle traffic for all seasons. Along the river, you can appreciate verdant summer greenery, admire fall foliage, revel in freshly fallen snow, or smell fresh spring flowers. Fountains, bridges, outdoor sculptures, and other architectural features conspire with the space’s natural beauty to create a tranquil atmosphere. Consequently, it’s an enjoyable place to walk alone, with a partner, or in a group.

Revisit Naperville’s History

Joseph Naper arrived on the DuPage River’s west bank with a small band of family and friends in July 1831. Within a year, 100 settlers had joined Naper in laying the foundation for what would become Naperville. The Naperville Riverwalk, located at the heart of Naper’s Settlement, was established in 1981 to commemorate its 150th anniversary.

Just south of the Riverwalk, at the corner of Aurora and Porter, lies the Naper Settlement Museum. At the museum’s reenacted village, you can get a feel for how life was lived in Joseph Naper’s day, while also learning some of the community’s most pivotal moments.

Sunbathe at Centennial Beach

With Centennial Beach at your fingertips, there’s no need to head to the shores of Lake Michigan every time you want a beach day. The beach is a nice place to swim, lounge in the sun, play volleyball, or enjoy a picnic. And if you don’t want to bring your own supplies, choose from Centennial Grill‘s various food and drink options.

Centennial Beach is best enjoyed during summer, but the Naperville Riverwalk has activities and attractions for all seasons. Visit in the winter after a good snowfall to sled down Rotary Hill as a fun family outing or date activity. Enjoy a Riverwalk paddleboat ride on the historic Naperville Quarry between late spring and early fall. Watch a performance in the Riverwalk Amphitheatre, which can also be rented out for weddings and other special occasions. The ADA-accessible Jaycees Playground and Centennial Skate Park, adjacent to the Riverwalk, are additional outlets for recreation.

Shop ’til You Drop

More than 100 shops and services are within walking distance of the Naperville Riverwalk. Browse artwork, clothing, kitchenware, and furnishings at national favorites like Anthropologie, Banana Republic, Pottery Barn, and Sephora. Drop into independent boutiques like Anderson’s Bookshop and Naperville Running Company to pick up a good read, new athletic gear, or gift for a friend. The range of retail offerings in downtown Naperville makes it a place you can browse for fun and cross items off your to-do list.

Eat Your Heart Out

Downtown Naperville’s finest restaurants serve as a sort of culinary playground for Naperville Riverwalk visitors. Depending on your tastes, you may choose to dig into Italian at Giordano’s or Lou Malnati’s, Portuguese at Nando’s Peri-Peri, spicy Thai at Bangkok Village, Irish pub fare at Quigley’s, or a Chipotle burrito. The 40+ nearby restaurants are all within a ten-minute drive of the AMLI at Naperville apartments.

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