A Walk in Oak Park, Illinois, Winter

Downtown Oak Park, IL | Winter 2021 | A Walk in Oak Park, IL

Hi, I'm Kristen!
I'm an award-winning senior portrait and family photographer based out of Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area. I love sunshine, cacti, chocolate chips, and a great cup of tea - but most of all I love photographing joyful clients. :)
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Welcome to the Winter Walk in Oak Park installment! Downtown Oak Park, IL is always so festive during the winter – I’m glad to share the holiday fun with you in this season’s walking tour of the town. 🙂

Festive Downtown Oak Park!

We’re starting off in the Pleasant District and walking north on Marion St! In winter the town dresses up the light poles with real evergreen garlands. A lot of Christmas trees die for this town is what I’m saying.

Continuing up north on Marion, past the Metra station is a fun selection of shops – Sugar Fixé, Lea French Street Food, Sugarcup Trading kids boutique, Fitzgerald’s Fine Stationery, and a bunch of others I’m hoping to check out soon! I really like the festive ribbons on the lamp posts, and…this is a Midwest thing or at the very least not a west coast thing…there are evergreen branches stuck into the flower pots all over town!

Now we’re taking a right on Lake Street and heading east. The trees in downtown Oak Park are covered in lights for the season! They recently re-did the streets and sidewalks downtown which was great from a remove-the-ancient-sewer-pipes perspective, but not so great from the many-trees-were-removed perspective.

At the First United Church of Oak Park they had a neat holiday art installation! Grab a ribbon, write a hope, and tie it onto the string. Watching the number of ribbons and hopes added to the string over the course of the season was pretty cool!

It’s a super pretty church by day or by night! We stopped by on Winter Solstice for our annual labyrinth walk…

Please note the baby tucked inside Dad’s jacket.

Across the road is the Frank Lloyd Wright Unity Temple. One day we’ll get the chance to head inside and take a look around. As a plant lover, one of my favorite features of it is the tall pillars with grasses growing out the top (by design! I think!). It’s hard to see in this photo but that planter pillar’s behind the stoplight.

Light Up the Night 2020 Oak Park, IL Luminaria Walk

In mid-December the Oak Park community organized a city-wide luminaria walk called “Light Up the Night 2020.” It was fun being able to come together with neighbors in a socially distanced way to fill, place, and light luminarias and then enjoy all the beauty!

I think they reported over 70 miles of blocks in Oak Park were lit up…and there were many other blocks that hadn’t signed up but nonetheless participated!

Walking up N Kenilworth…this big white house had quite an audience! You can kind of make out on the porch there’s a group of OPRF high school jazz band students playing holiday songs!

I like the big goofy snowball lights on this one!

This one didn’t do a great job of decorating but gets a spot on the blog because it’s a FLW house.

And this is a FLW house too. Grand prairie style?? It’s like prairie style (boxy) but Make it Fancy (Boxy).

The photos don’t capture the splendor, but all the houses were awfully pretty.

Buttercup was warm the whole time in her stroller!

The Oak Park Hemingway District in Winter

I know, I know, lots of photos of the Hemingway District in my fall Walk in Oak Park edition – I can’t help it, there are lots of neat things to see in this district!

Zipping north under the Green El station is this great big brick building – there’s a bank, eye doctor, etc…but to me the real draw is the Irish Shop on the corner which is a really cool gift shop – my favorite of their wares is the peat bricks(!! how cool is that?!) and (shocking, coming from me) their Irish tea selection. On Fridays they have fresh scones, soda bread, and brown bread.

Looking west along North Boulevard; I just think the architecture is so pretty and so different from the West coast!

Cute alleyways in the Hemingway district with the ubiquitous evergreen branches. They often film movies in Oak Park and you see film crews around this spot!

On the corner of Lake and N Oak Park Ave looking northeast. Courageous Bakery is right on the corner with the rainbow awning and their biscuits and breakfast potatoes are (maybe a bit salty) but hit the spot.

Cute entrances and courtyards along Scoville Park decked out in winter finery.

………………..and then there is THIS winter finery…………

Snowpocalypse 2021

We got our first major snow of the season in late January, and then got dumped on again and again throughout the first three weeks of February – it made for some picturesque shots of my favorite, the Hemingway District of downtown Oak Park, IL, and allowed me to take some pretty cool snow photoshoots this season!

There gets to a point in the season where it’s like…as long as it’s accessible I’ve shoveled plenty…

Beautiful Scoville Park with the library in the background…lots of kids enjoyed playing in the snow and sledding here!

Did you know that there are lots of the churches in town? There are.

Hemingway birthplace in the snow…

I just think it’s so interesting that you can walk through a neighborhood and there’s such a variety of architectural styles. Here’s a boxy fella across the street from this purple victorian (note the cool window on the side of the house for the stairs). These are all on the same block at multiple 6-story apartment buildings and a coffee shop.

See those brick buildings with the triangle roofs? That’s where we lived for our first three months in Oak Park.

Fire station; please note the icicles on the roof that are blown toward the building!

South Hemingway District in the Winter

We’re heading on down S Oak Park Ave, and there’s L!VE cafe with all the hearts. L!VE cafe’s a black-owned business targeted with hate crimes in an attempt to keep black candidates off the ballot. The hearts are community-made to show appreciation of the cafe. In the next panel is Spilt Milk Pastry, which unfortunately had a pipe-bursting catastrophe this winter that totally ruined the shop; they are moving just around the corner to a bigger and better spot in April 2021! Their key lime pie and guava cream pie are A+++.

I couldn’t resist finishing with my favorite blue house again, decked out in winter finery and snow!

As of March 23, the snowdrops are up, the scilla and crocuses are starting to bloom in earnest, and I’ve even seen a few scattered daffodils blooming! I’m excited to share a spring-wrap up with you all soon – the seasons in Illinois are so pronounced compared to the west coast and it’s fun to share the seasonal changes that are new to me. 🙂

Kristen Hazelton is an Oak Park, IL (Chicago, IL metro area) and Livermore, CA (San Francisco East Bay Area) senior, family, and engagement photographer. She occasionally photographs in San Diego, CA, Tucson, AZ, and Seattle, WA. You can inquire about your own photoshoot here!

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