Barely out of the city, and not even outside of Cook County, the tranquil village of Riverside is a great place to go to clear your head. There is no background hum from Chicago’s highways, subways, and countless skyscraper HVAC systems. Instead, you might actually hear a bird chirping, or a turtle splash in the Des Plaines River.
The anchor of this island of idyll is the Riverside Township Hall (27 Riverside Road). Designed by George Ashby and built around 1895, this faux French château houses the village’s government offices, police station, fire department, and a community meeting space which is used for performances by local artists and actors. Unfortunately, the genteel limestone landmark has had a number of modern-day antennae bolted onto its roof, which are enough of a visual distraction to break the architectural illusion.
If you go, don’t expect much in the way of amenities. You’re there to clear your head and get a little zen in a park, not to strike a pose at a sushi bar. But if you catch an early train, there is a little tea cafe. And if you miss its scant opening hours, there is an Irish pub a couple of blocks away that does a pretty good burger and is open late.