Known as the Village of Plainfield, Plainfield, IL, is a thriving community that offers a perfect blend of small-town charm and modern amenities. Nestled in the scenic beauty of the Prairie State, Plainfield boasts a rich history, a welcoming atmosphere, and plenty to do around town. From endless outdoor recreation opportunities to the city’s love of art, you’re sure to find something to love.
But what is Plainfield, IL, known for? If you’re looking at homes for sale in Plainfield or are just curious about what the city has to offer, this Redfin guide has everything you need to know. To give you a taste, read on for 10 things to love about Plainfield.
1. Historic downtown
Plainfield’s historic downtown is a true gem that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Upgraded in 2009, the city center is a pedestrian-focused haven lined with vintage storefronts, trees, and small-town charm. Visitors and residents alike can explore boutique shops, antique stores, and art galleries. Local cafes and restaurants offer delicious fare, and the area often hosts community events, including farmers’ markets, parades, and live music performances from local bands.
2. Parks and recreation
Plainfield takes pride in its abundant green spaces. With over 80 parks and miles of trails, residents have ample opportunities for outdoor activities.
The most popular park is Settler’s Park, which features a splash pad for kids, picnic areas, trails, and hosts numerous community events throughout the year, including concerts and outdoor movies. Commissioners Park, Van Horn Woods, and Four Seasons Park are other hotspots that host ice rinks, sports fields, forests, and large open spaces for relaxation.
The city is also home to numerous nature preserves, such as the Prairie Bluff Reserve, which is home to over 3 miles of trails for cycling, skiing, and more. Other preserves include the Rock Run Preserve, Eaton Preserve, and Riverview Farmstead Preserve, which all serve important roles in protecting local biodiversity.
3. Lake Renwick Preserve
The largest and most famous natural landmark in the Plainfield area is the Lake Renwick Preserve, which is part of the Lily Cache Creek preservation system. This scenic gem features a 200 acre lake with structures designed to provide nesting homes for birds. The preserve is home to the largest protected nesting location of herons in Illinois, although public viewing is limited during nesting season. Additionally, cycling and fishing are only allowed in certain areas.
There are three ways to access the preserve: through Copley Nature Park, Heron rookery Nature Preserve, or Turtle Lake. Unfortunately, only a few hundred feet from the preserve is a sand and gravel mine, which may impact the local wildlife.
4. The DuPage River
The DuPage River runs through Plainfield, offering picturesque riverfront areas for relaxation and recreation. Fishing, kayaking, and serene waterfront walks are just a few ways to enjoy the natural beauty of the river. The city also recently adopted a Riverfront Master Plan, which aims to further highlight the DuPage River with overlooks, improved shoreline management, and recreation space.
There are numerous trails that follow the river and connect different parks around the city. For example, the 30+ mile Dupage River Trail follows the river through most of Plainfield before heading north to Naperville and south to Shorewood. The trail connects Mather Woods, Renwick Park, Settlers’ Park, and Eaton Preserve. Other trails around the city also follow the river, although they may be disconnected.
5. Historical landmarks
Plainfield boasts a rich history, and several historical landmarks showcase its past. The Naper Settlement offers a glimpse into the region’s history, while the historic Barber House serves as a testament to the town’s architectural heritage. Additionally, the area is home to a historic gas station, a Civil War enlistment center, and an opera house that was originally a church and town hall.
6. Lewis University
Founded in 1932 just 20 miles outside of Plainfield, Lewis University has a rich history of academic excellence and community engagement. Inspired by its Catholic and Lasallian heritage, the university is known for its diverse range of undergraduate and graduate programs, covering fields such as business, aviation, religion, education, healthcare, and the arts.
One of the standout features of Lewis University is its commitment to innovation and technology. The university’s aviation program, for example, is renowned for its state-of-the-art flight simulation facilities and providing students with hands-on experience in aeronautics. The university offers undergraduate and graduate programs, including air traffic control management, aviation maintenance, and unmanned aircraft systems.
The Plainfield Historic Preservation Commission recently created a self-guided walking tour that showcases the area’s history and highlights local architecture and businesses. The tour includes 53 historic properties around the town.
7. Annual events
The town comes alive with a variety of annual festivals and events year-round. Yearly favorites include the seasonal Farmers Market, Irish Parade, Harvest 5k, and Homecoming Parade, which celebrates the new school year and welcoming alumni back to the area. Holiday celebrations are also popular in Plainfield, such as Spooktacular and The Heart of Christmas.
No matter who you are or what you celebrate, you’re sure to find a community event to help you feel at home.
8. Proximity to Chicago
Plainfield’s proximity to Chicago is one of its standout features. Located just 35 miles southwest of downtown Chicago, Plainfield offers residents the best of both worlds – a serene suburban lifestyle with easy access to the vibrant Windy City.
While it’s easiest to drive from Plainfield to Chicago, taking just over an hour, the city does offer two bus routes on weekdays. However, public transportation is minimal in Plainfield, so plan on driving a car.
9. Plainfield tornado of 1990
A devastating F5 tornado struck Plainfield on August 28, 1990, the strongest August tornado in US history and one of the strongest of all time. It remains as one of the most memorable events in the village’s history and led to significant rebuilding and growth in the community.
10. Community spirit
Community spirit is at the heart of what makes Plainfield, IL, a special place to live. Residents actively volunteer at libraries, parks, animal sheltered, and food banks, creating a sense of togetherness. Neighborhood associations also organize events, and local businesses support the town and contribute to its historic roots. Strong community engagement, welcoming neighbors, and ample public services helps make Plainfield a welcoming town open to everyone.
What is Plainfield, IL, known for? Final thoughts
Plainfield, IL, is more than just a suburban town; it’s a thriving community with a rich history, excellent schools, and a strong sense of unity among its residents. From a charming downtown to natural beauty and diverse amenities, Plainfield offers something for people from all walks of life. And, with a convenient location near just an hour outside Chicago, it’s no wonder that Plainfield is a growing city beloved by locals.