A Walk in Oak Park, Illinois, Spring

Oak Park Arts District | Spring 2021 | A Walk in Oak Park

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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Classy and comfortable senior portraits!
Relaxed and easy family portraits. and stunning artwork
Arts District sign in the Oak Park Arts District

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

Brick building on the corner of Harrison St and S Cuyler in Oak Park, IL

We’re starting from the corner of Ridgeland and Harrison and walking east towards Austin Boulevard!

Brick building with Elevate Hair Salon
Blue house surrounded by red brick apartment buildings in the Oak Park Arts District

I kinda love this little house surrounded on either side by brick apartments?? Just a fun juxtaposition!

Colorful street flags in the Harrison Arts District of Oak Park, IL

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

White house with enclosed front porch and lilacs

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.

Tan house with tulips in Oak Park, IL

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).

Tan house with a flowering Japanese maple in Oak Park, IL

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.

yellow house with lilacs

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 storefront in the Oak Park Arts District

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 storefront

Trattoria 225 is a fancy Italian restaurant! I hear their pizza is outstanding.

The Happy Apple Pie Shop in the Oak Park Arts District

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!

Pie Today sign
Yellow door on the 200 block of Harrison St

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!

Rare Bird Preserves in the Oak Park Arts District

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!

KidCreate Studio

Even the crosswalks are cool here!!

Oak Park Arts District: East Side

The Oak Park Arts District sign

I really enjoy the “Arts District” signs they have at the various entrances into the region!

Map of the Oak Park Arts District
Metal sculpture on the corner of Harrison St and Lombard St

More neat sculptures and pretty doors!

Buzz Cafe storefront

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!

a window against a light brown brick wall
Purple Sun Arts store sign
Brick building along Harrison St in Oak Park, IL

Another “we’re not in CA anymore” moment: BRICK! EVERYWHERE BRICK!

Mural by Alec Rasmussen in the Oak Park Arts District

Look at these sweet murals! This would be such a fun place for a photoshoot!

Redbuds blooming along Harrison St in Oak Park, IL

And the redbuds are just stunning as usual!

The Eastgate Cafe

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!!

Walking east along Harrison St in Oak Park, IL

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).

Tiled "OP" in an Oak Park Alley

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!

Painted fences and benches in the Oak Park Arts District
A chess table set up along the sidewalk on Harrison St in Oak Park, IL

I enjoy that the District went out of their way to make an inviting section of town with brightly colored benches and chess tables!

Redbuds in bloom along Harrison St in Oak Park, IL

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!

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