If you’re reading this, chances are you have a vacation coming up, and you need to know the best things to do in Naperville. And with so many options out there, it can be hard to decide where to go or what places are worth your time.
Naperville is a great place to visit if you want to experience the best of what Illinois has to offer. From world-class dining and shopping to outdoor activities and historical landmarks, Naperville will take your breath away with its natural beauty and charm. So, whether you’re visiting on business or pleasure, there’s always something happening that will keep you entertained.
Now that I’ve been to Naperville and I loved it, here is a list of 12 Top-Rated Things to Do in Naperville, Illinois. I hope this blog post helps you plan your visit to this great city!
Best Things to Do in Naperville, Illinois
1. Naperville Riverwalk
I strongly suggest the Riverwalk as one of the best things to do in Naperville, especially if you are looking for things to do on a hot summer day.
At first glance, it can be easy to see how this popular attraction earned its awards as best Riverwalk in America by Travel & Leisure magazine. The entire length of this lighted pathway spans just over 2 miles.
Walking along this stretch takes you to an idyllic stretch of riverside greenery through the heart of downtown. Part of this path also follows a good stretch of the DuPage River, a wide waterway that winds its way through Naperville and roughly parallels the Riverwalk. A new addition to the Naperville Riverwalk includes paddle boat rental, making the Riverwalk even more enjoyable.
I think that this is certainly one of the best places to visit in Naperville, as there are plenty of great choices for everyone here!
2. Naper Settlement
If you’re looking for more than just a stroll along the riverfront, Naper Settlement, just upriver from downtown, offers an educational look into life in Illinois before modern times. This place looks like an outdoor museum, depicting a town during its best and worst moments through history.
Today, this is one of the best attractions in Naperville that I would recommend if you are with children. This Settlement spans 12 acres and keeps an authentic atmosphere by having historic buildings not seen elsewhere in the area.
The best part is that with or without an active tour guide, you can easily explore everything on your own with the help of large signs around the grounds. If you really want to get into some hands-on learning, the calendar of events at Naper Settlement is full of kid and adult classes and workshops featuring everything from blacksmithing to bobbin lace making.
3. Centennial Beach
My next suggestion is Centennial Beach. This beach along the banks of the DuPage River has been recognized as one of the best beaches in America by none other than the Travel & Leisure magazine. And it’s not hard to see why!
This popular summer destination offers world-class amenities that include a zero-entry swimming pool with fountains, water slides, and diving boards. The Park also includes an outdoor pool area, indoor therapy pool, fun splash pad for kids, and separate children’s play area nearby.
In addition to all of these awesome facilities, there are even more great choices within walking from here. Dining options include everything from ice cream to hot dogs, nachos, and more! So if you are looking for things to do in Naperville with kids at any time of year, this is an awesome choice!
4. Herrick Lake Forest Preserve
Also, in Naperville, Herrick Lake Forest Preserve offers loads of fun and interesting things to do. While this Park is a little off the beaten path and not directly connected with the most popular options in downtown Naperville, it’s worth finding this place when you are considering the best things to do in Naperville!
This lovely nature preserve features close to 900 acres of natural landscape that offers hiking, biking, and access to fishing along its many scenic waterways. There is also a boat launch area for those looking to hit the water here as well! Spending the day at this nature preserve means you will also have great opportunities for scenic views and photos.
The trails here are extremely family-friendly and popular with all skill levels because they are well marked. You can pick almost any path out from the main parking area, and you will never get lost as there are maps posted at every junction. So no matter what your fitness level is, you can easily find a good distance to hike with your family.
This was certainly one of my best attractions in Naperville, IL, so I recommend everyone should visit this place once in their lifetime.
5. Wentz Concert Hall
Are you looking for something truly special? Then you must visit Wentz Concert Hall! This acoustically superior music hall hosts many of the best classical performances in the Chicagoland area, offering an excellent option to consider when deciding what to do in Naperville.
This magnificent concert hall seats more than 600 guests at a time, making it easy to take in some truly top-quality performances by both students and popular touring artists alike!
Today, it features over 200 performances each year that range from classic bands to cutting-edge performers and everything in between! The best part? This building features plenty of gorgeous architecture that makes it an attraction on its own whether there is a show going on or not!
Beyond music entertainment, Wentz Concert Hall also hosts many other events, including lectures, school programs, and award ceremonies. So if you are looking for things to do in Naperville with kids of any age, there’s something special here for everyone!
6. Knoch Knolls Nature Center
Another good choice for Naperville is the Knoch Knolls Nature Center, a family-friendly place that is perfect for children. This nature center is roughly 2500 acres in size and offers nearly everything that you could ask from a local park here in Illinois.
Start off with a quick hike along the trails within the Park to see what this space has to offer. Keep an eye out for native plants while you stroll through this ravine ravished by steep wooded slopes filled with brushy shrubs and tree saplings. You can also stop at one of two small ponds or take some time to relax on one of several wooden benches found throughout the area.
Not only does this place provide access to great outdoor scenery like thick woodlands with a ravine, but there are also several animal enclosures such as garter snake, box turtle, and a salamander. Many birds can be seen within the bird aviary here, including colorful wild turkeys wandering through grassy areas and along trails. You will find some fantastic interactive displays that provide so much educational value along with your entertainment.
The rest of the Park consists of picnic facilities, hiking trails, and an impressive bonsai garden featuring many different species created by some very talented cultivators! There really are so many great choices for everyone here, with something perfect for anyone no matter what they are looking for.
I highly suggest this as one of the best things to do in Naperville with kids at any time of year! This nature center is very affordable, with free parking available on site.
7. Downtown Naperville
Downtown Naperville has finally earned its reputation as one of the best downtown areas in America from various sources such as CNN Money and American Style magazine. In addition to all of these awards, Downtown Naperville offers unique attractions that make it one of the best places to visit in Illinois year-round.
If you are a food lover, there are dozens of choices within walking distance! One great example within would be Hugo’s Frog Bar & Fish House, which offers some tasty specialties that are served daily. Plus, if you enjoy coffee as much as I do, there are several excellent choices here to get your daily fix!
In addition, there are also plenty of options for shopping throughout this lively section of town, including everything from bars and breweries to vintage shops and boutiques. All this activity takes place within close vicinity with each other down a street that boasts some truly beautiful architecture.
Another great option for things to do in Naperville at night would be the Artist Series performances, which are held monthly at various locations throughout downtown. These unique concerts change month-to-month, so you can see a variety of different styles while exploring the downtown area! And for this reason, I believe that exploring downtown Naperville is something you can’t afford to miss.
8. Springbrook Prairie Nature Preserve
Springbrook Prairie Nature Preserve is another public park located in Naperville that offers a great outing for all ages. The landscape includes more than 1800 acres of open space and waterways with a nature center for education and activities as well as miles of hiking trails.
The abundance of wildlife at this nature center is what has earned it such high praise as one of the best places for birdwatching in Illinois. And since it was set aside as a protected sanctuary in 1969, this birdwatcher’s paradise has seen the return of birds of prey back into the area. In fact, you will likely see many eagles soaring overhead while visiting on your tour of this beautiful Park!
And if you want to spend some time wandering through this natural space, you’ll find plenty of different paths! These range from easy loops to more advanced mountain biking trails for those looking for something more challenging! In addition, there are all sorts of outdoor recreation from fishing, picnicking and more.
9. Naperville Community Concert Center
The Naperville Community Concert Center is a gem in terms of beautiful venues to take in a live musical performance. This award-winning center provides the perfect setting for classical groups, but also hosts pop and rock concerts from time to time!
Within its spacious interior, you’ll find a great choice of seating options, from plush seats with lots of legroom up close to the general admission standing room. So it doesn’t matter what your preference is as far as comfort goes! In addition to some legendary acts that have graced the stage here over the years, you will find plenty of local performances as well.
So, if you are looking for things to do in Naperville with your significant other or a group of friends, this would be an awesome choice. Check out the upcoming schedule on their website ahead of time, and you can probably score some great seats in the process!
10. The Morton Arboretum
While the Morton Arboretum is located in Lisle, it is just a short drive from downtown Naperville and can easily be considered one of the best things to do in Naperville.
Truly a unique destination for everyone to visit, The Morton Arboretum offers something for everyone. Exploring over 1,700 acres of plants will give you great insight into not only plant life, but also how plants can be used to improve our lives.
There are endless choices when it comes to things you can do here. But the most popular activity here is going through a magnificent collection of plants and seasonal flower displays. In addition, you can learn more about sustainable landscaping and conservation with one of the many classes offered on-site. If you have kids, they will love the children’s garden and discovery trail.
You’ll find plenty of great walking trails along with special events throughout the year here. And don’t forget to stop by the Tree Research Center, where you’ll find a special exhibit each month as well as continuing research on how to care for some of nature’s most awesome creations!
11. Cantigny Park
Yet another great choice for things to do in Naperville is Cantigny Park, a sprawling estate that features wonderful amenities like formal gardens and outdoor sculptures.
Most of the attraction takes place under this Park’s main public area, called Heritage Grove. This area features walking paths through beautifully landscaped greenery coupled with fountains, flowers, and even an amphitheater! The Robert McCormick Museum is also inside Cantigny Park and offers a special look at the life of a man who spent most of his life in Naperville after inheriting this land from his father.
In addition, there is a military museum on-site called The First Division Museum. This museum gives civilians a unique look at what these brave men faced while deployed overseas, with a special focus on their actions during World War II.
There are also exhibits dedicated to veterans who served overseas during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. You can also find several educational opportunities available at the museum, including lectures dedicated to both history and the military, as well as educational programs for students.
One of my favorite things about this Park was playing golf at Cantigny Golf Club. I’ve always wanted to try golfing but never had anyone to play with until now! It was a great opportunity for me personally as I love trying something new. And to add to that, I have to admit that this Golf Club has a very high-quality course and I recommend it to anyone looking for a good golf club.
12. Naperville Trolley & Tours
A Naperville Trolley & Tours is a really fun and unique way to explore all that downtown has to offer. This narrated tour of the city on an open-air trolley takes visitors through downtown Naperville, one of the most popular streets in town for shopping, dining, and entertainment. In addition, this tour includes stops at Riverwalk, Centennial Beach, and various museums and shops in the area.
Besides simply getting around town when you visit here, this is also a great option if you are looking for something fun to do with kids! The friendly tour guide offers a wealth of historical and cultural knowledge during this ride. And I have to add that it is a great way to explore this interesting destination even if you are traveling on a tight schedule or just passing through the area!
There’s nothing fun like enjoying a day trip to Naperville downtown. So, why not choose a mode of transportation that makes the experience more fun?
There are many great choices for things to do in Naperville that deserve mention, but these 12 attractions were among the best that I visited! If you’re looking for more suggestions on what to do, feel free to reach out. I’ll be happy to help with any questions or recommendations that can make your stay even better.