For this spring’s “Walk in Oak Park” we toured the Oak Park Arts District in mid-east Oak Park! It’s a beautiful section of town with (surprise!) lots of pretty artwork, sculptures, galleries, boutiques, and cafes. It’s a great place to walk around and enjoy a cup of coffee and see lots of beautiful things!
Oak Park Arts District: West Side
We’re starting from the corner of Ridgeland and Harrison and walking east towards Austin Boulevard!
I kinda love this little house surrounded on either side by brick apartments?? Just a fun juxtaposition!
I love these beautiful flags they have up! There’s a different pattern for each streetlight!
A Slight Detour North Because there were pretty flowers
We took a detour off of Harrison street for a block because (surprise!) this former plant biologist and current plant enthusiast saw flowers. Do you see that this white house has a “three-seasons porch” on the front? I’ve never seen them in California or Washington, but they are more common in Illinois; it’s basically a well-enclosed porch with lots of windows so you can enjoy looking outside when it’s 15 degrees.
There is probably a fancy name for this type of architecture but I’m uncultured and don’t know it. I just appreciate that there’s such a wide variety of house architectural styles in town (and lots of flowers).
The redbuds!! Are!! Amazing here!! Redbuds are super rare on the west coast; I rarely saw them in California, although they are a bit more prevalent in Washington. Meanwhile redbuds are living their best life in the Midwest, supplying amazing color for a solid month, and then beautiful heart-shaped leaves after that. We were recently at the Morton Arboretum and redbuds are basically weeds out there! We love them.
And lilacs, too! Lilacs are rare in CA (less rare in WA) and have a the most pathetic, piddly little blooming season because it gets so hot so fast. Meanwhile, they bloom for 2-3 weeks out in Illinois and are beautifully common.
Oak Park Arts District: Central Region
The Brown Elephant is a neat resale shop, and “all proceeds benefit LGBTQ health and fund care for the uninsured and under-insured at Howard Brown Health.” That’s a pretty sweet business philosophy!
Trattoria 225 is a fancy Italian restaurant! I hear their pizza is outstanding.
So many shops on this block – pie, breweries, architecture firms, and kids’ art studios! The Happy Apple Pie shop is here – “A blended work environment where people with and without disabilities work together to create the most delicious sweet and savory pies. Eat in, to go and beverages also available.” I hear people rave about the chicken pot pie!
While the focus in these photos is the pretty pops of yellow on this block, please note in the bottom left of the left image the sign for “Dye Hard Yarns“! What a great name!
Ohhh Rare Bird Preserves, I love you! This is the cutest boutique jam and pastry shop, with all kinds of neat gifts! I love their vanilla cream scones with whipped vanilla mascarpone. I’ve loved all the fancy preserves I’ve tried, but the passionfruit curd, meyer lemon curd, and peach-lavender preserves are probably my favorite. They also have really tasty “Dirty Bird” drinks; it’s a dirty chai with lavender and oat milk!
Even the crosswalks are cool here!!
Oak Park Arts District: East Side
I really enjoy the “Arts District” signs they have at the various entrances into the region!
More neat sculptures and pretty doors!
Buzz Cafe is one of my favorite places in this district! They have really tasty food with vegan and vegetarian options, and delicious coffee. I like their Mexican Mocha!
Another “we’re not in CA anymore” moment: BRICK! EVERYWHERE BRICK!
Look at these sweet murals! This would be such a fun place for a photoshoot!
And the redbuds are just stunning as usual!
Eastgate Cafe is a bistro where “really nice people meet to eat.” I’ve never been in, but I met the owner who was super nice and they have the most beautiful patio seating with a three story tall magnolia!!
Reaching the end of the block you can see Columbus Park in the Austin district of Chicago (Columbus Park has two great playgrounds and a really neat nature path with a giant fountain?? waterfall?? place to throw rocks in water).
I like these small Oak Park details. 🙂 There are tiled “STOP” signs in the alleys of Oak Park, and you can also see the Oak Park Village logo stamped into the flower planters in town!
I enjoy that the District went out of their way to make an inviting section of town with brightly colored benches and chess tables!
And heading back west, more beautiful redbuds blooms! The Oak Park Arts District is so pretty and fun to explore – I am itching to do a photoshoot there!
If you missed it, “A Walk in Oak Park” is my seasonal blog series exploring my new town of Oak Park, IL! Come check it out over here!
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!