Aurora is not another western suburb of Chicago but a city in itself. Attractions to Aurora include multiple museums, nature centers, a zoo, numerous water parks, bike trails, and many outdoor activities that are family-friendly.
Nightlife is another advantage of living in Aurora. Aurora restaurants and bars come in a variety and style for everyone in town. One of the best dining in town is at America’s Roundhouse, the restaurant originally established by Bears football legend Walter Payton. If looking for a night out without the children, Hollywood Casino is a perfect way to spend an evening with lots of games, three dining options, and is located in the heart of Downtown Aurora and on the Fox River.
The population of Aurora is steadily declining as more people are finding homes in Aurora. The density of people in Aurora is not so high as Chicago but still offers the big city amenities.
The community in Aurora provides good schools, both public and private and a private University for higher education. Museums like SciTech Hands On Museum provides an educational and fun field trip for most students attending schools in Aurora.
Homes on the market in Aurora can be found in all price ranges and with a variety of comforts. Public transportation is an important advantage to living in Aurora, whether you need a bus to the Community College or need to commute to downtown Chicago.
Many people attracted to Aurora are looking for a safe and well rounded community to raise a family, while it can also attract the college students who are still single and looking for exciting nightlife. Shopping also becomes a big part of living in Aurora with the Premium Outlet Center and designer clothes for discount prices available all year round.
Aurora is located approximately 35 miles west of the Chicago Loop and about 120 miles east of the Iowa-Illinois border. Interstate 88 is the main highway to and from Aurora which connects to highways such as 355, 294 and 290. The most direct route to Chicago is through 290.
Neighboring communities of Aurora include Naperville, North Aurora, Montgomery, Sugar Grove, Fox Valley, Ashburn, Warrenville, and Mooseheart.
The city of Aurora is mostly located in Kane County but is also partially located in DuPage, Will, and Kendall counties. Downtown Aurora is located on the Fox River making riverboat casinos an attraction and a central part of Aurora nightlife.
Eola is an unincorporated community In DuPage County and is completely surrounded by Aurora. Eola is the home of a large railway yard for BNSF railway and is a small community that houses only 74 residents with a median age of 43 as of the 2000 Census.
Source US Census
Density: 4,459 people per square mile
Crime in Aurora has been below the national average since 2002. Many police programs were implemented to lower the crime rate and any gang activity.
Aurora was the setting for Wayne’s World and its sequel starring Mike Myers and Dana Carvey; however, the majority of the filming locations were in California.
Tom Skilling, the meteorologist for some of Chicago’s biggest local television stations, graduated from Aurora High School.
Joseph McCarty founded Aurora in 1834 and chose the site because of its location near the Fox River. After establishing a mill, the settlement was first known as McCarty’s Mills and later established a post office in 1837.
In 1881, Aurora became known nationwide as the “City of Lights” after it was the first U.S. City to implement electric street lights.
Railcar construction and repair shops were built in Aurora in 1856. With the number of textile mills and gristmills in Aurora, the city was mainly a town of manufacturers until the 1980’s when many mills closed. The unemployment rate became high and the town began to develop further adding river boat casinos and businesses to create nearly 20,000 jobs.
While commuter trains give Aurora’s residents easy access to Chicago from the Metra Trains, the City of Aurora has focused on being self-sufficient from Chicago’s economy. To make itself self-sufficient, Aurora has good education options and a vibrant nightlife and many attractions for residents.
For residential properties in Aurora, 17% of homes were built before 1939 and nearly 30% of homes were built in the 1990’s. The median value of owner-occupied homes is $135,500.
An area of Aurora to consider home is Downtown Aurora or Stolp Island National Historic District. In the historical district, many buildings feature beautiful architecture built before the 1930’s. This area was previously the center of the original settlement and home to the mills that centered Aurora’s industrial roots.
Homes in Aurora range in price from $1,000,000 brick homes with golf course views to $50,000 prairie style homes with large backyards. The luxury homes for sale in Aurora feature beautiful and unique layouts, many of which include vaulted ceiling entries, bay windows, three car garages, and paved patios for extremely stylish living. More moderately priced homes in Aurora come in varieties like cottage, tri-level, ranch, and four square brick homes.
Like most communities, Aurora also contains many attached properties. Aurora condos and town homes range in price from $30,000 to $500,000 new construction and luxury town homes. Many of the Condos in Aurora that are moderately priced can be found in downtown Aurora, and these properties often include balconies with gorgeous views of the river and located near Metra train stations.
Apartments, condos, and homes for rent in Aurora can cost $800 - $2,000 monthly. Some of these rental properties include in-unit washer/dryer, hardwood floors, and spacious town homes in golf course communities.
Parking in Aurora is regulated by the Motor Vehicle Parking System Division. Parking permits are available for central district parking lots and also for the Metra Commuter Parking Lots. Some areas of Aurora do not allow for overnight parking or parking during snow removal. Also see the Downtown Aurora Parking Map for more information on parking locations.
Metra BNSF Railway operates from Chicago Union Station to Aurora and has two stations in Aurora: Metra Station Route 59 and the final stop on the Railway, Metra Station - Aurora. The BNSF runs trains seven days a week with express trains to Aurora taking about 50 minutes and non-express trains that take one hour and 20 minutes.
Other public transportation within Aurora include the Pace Bus Services that take riders to Aurora hotspots like the Westfield Shoppingtown, Downtown Aurora, High Schools, Hollywood Casino, Public Library, and Aurora University.
Pace Bus Route 907 - Oswego-Aurora Metra Shuttle
Pace Bus Route 521 - East Circulator
Pace Bus Route 524 - West Aurora Circulator
Pace Bus Route 528 - Aurora Tran Ctr. Rush-Copley Med
Pace Bus Route 529 - Randall Road - 5th Street
Pace Bus Route 530 - West Galena-Westfield Shoppingtown
Pace Bus Route 532 - Illinois Avenue
Pace Bus Route 533 - Molitor
Pace Bus Route 802 - Aurora-St. Charles
Other modes of transportation in Aurora include many taxi services, Aurora Taxi Inc., Aurora Taxi Cab, Blue Cab Taxi, and more.
For those with a great interest in aviation, in neighboring Sugar Grove is the Aurora Municipal Airport that is owned and operated by the city of Aurora since 1966. Veterans Memorial Parkway, 43W636 US 30, Sugar Grove, IL 60554 (630) 466-7000.
Unlike most suburbs, Aurora ranks high on the Walk Score Scale in the area of downtown Aurora. For those moving to Aurora and do not own a car, the downtown area would be ideal as public transportation is more numerous.
Aurora University is a four year private institution with a campus also located in Williams Bay, Wisconsin. The university has approximately 4,000 degree-seeking students enrolled and features undergraduate and graduate degree programs. 347 South Gladstone Avenue, Aurora, IL 60506.
Due to the size of the population in Aurora, three public school districts serve the residents educational needs including 27 elementary schools, seven middle schools, and four high schools. The three districts are 129, 131, and 204. There are also many additional private education options.
Many of the bars and pubs in Aurora are sports themed and centered in Downtown Aurora but sometimes offer river views or the excitement of riverboat casino’s.
America’s Historic Roundhouse is a popular hot spot in Aurora especially for Chicago Bears fans. Originally established and named after Walter Payton, the club/brewery features a micro-brewery, absinthe bar, comedy shows, ghost tours, a Walter Payton Museum, dinner menu, banquet faculties, and live music. 205 N. Broadway Avenue, Aurora, IL 60506 (630) 264-2739.
If looking for a good spot for drinks specials and good conversation, check out the Tavern Off the Fox. Their Facebook group regularly posts info on drink specials, special events, and even live music. 2340 S. Eola Road, Aurora, IL 60503 (630) 236-6667.
Also a major factor in Aurora nightlife is the Hollywood Casino. Admission is always free and you must be over 21 to enter. Hollywood Casino is also open late til 4:30am on weekdays and 5:30am on weekends. Joining the club rewards card will earn points and guarantee free parking. 1 New York Street Bridge, Aurora, IL 60506. (630) 801-1234.
For an authentic Irish pub experience all year long, Ballydoyle Irish Pub is favorite spot for all who enjoy a relaxing drink and great food. They sometimes host a bags tournament and recommended by the regulars at Ballydoyle is the Corned Beef Balls or the Irish Chips. 28 W New York St, Aurora, IL 60506
One attraction that brings people from Chicago to the Aurora area is the Chicago Premium Outlet Shopping Center. The outlet stores include designer shops like Coach, Wilsons Leather, Calvin Klein, Hugo Boss, DKNY, and tons more. 1650 Premium Outlets Boulevard, Aurora, IL 60502 (630) 585-2200.
The next biggest shopping attraction near Aurora is the Westfield Fox Valley Shopping Mall. The mall features dozens of clothing and retail stores as well as over 20 food court and snack options. 195 Fox Valley Center, Aurora IL 60504 (630) 851-7200.
Downtown Aurora features many small and unique retail shops along the river and in the historic district of Aurora. Stores like Boca Rosa Fashion, Diversified, Francisco's Menswear, Hope Chest - Resale Store, Nancy’s Boutique, Estrella’s Bridal, Evyliz Bridal Shop, Johno's Main Surplus, J.H. Antiques Segunda General, and many more.
For theater in Aurora, every resident music visit the historic Paramount Theater located in downtown Aurora with valet parking services. The beautiful theater was built in 1931 using a venetian style art deco. The architecture alone is worth a visit to the Paramount Theater. 8 East Galena Boulevard, Aurora, IL 60506 (630) 896-7676.
Opera is not only confined to large metropolitan cities. The Sandwich Opera House was established in 1879 and still runs stage productions today as well as being available to rent for private parties. The house is located in the city of Sandwich and is about 20 miles west of Aurora.
For additional theater in downtown Aurora, the Riverfront Playhouse host theater productions year round and even contains a children’s theater. 11-13 Water Street Mall, Aurora, IL 60505 (630) 897-9496.
To experience a full service cinema experience, Hollywood Palms Cinema is conveniently located in neighboring Naperville. Hollywood Palms is a great movie experience, that includes a wait service to bring dinner, popcorn, snack, and even speciality cocktails and pitchers of margarita’s. With comfortable seating and great snack, Hollywood Palms is one of the funnest cinemas around. 352 S Rt 59, Naperville, IL 60540 (630) 428-5800.
For other nearby movie theater experiences, the Randall 15 IMAX Theater is located in Bactavia and about a 20 minute drive. 550 N. Randall Road, Batavia, IL 60510 (630) 761-0501.
Aurora has a diverse selection of restaurants and dining experiences much like you’d expect when tiny in the city.
For good pizza and family fun, try Luigi’s Pizza and Fun Center for the pizza and drinks while the kids can burn off energy in the arcade or laser tag games. Try a speciality pizza like the Cajun Pizza or the Crab Meat Pizza. 732 Prairie Street, Aurora, IL 60506 (630) 896-9861.
One truly unique dining experience in Aurora is at Chef Amaury’s Epicurean Affair. At Chef Amuary, you’ll experience a five-course meal referred to as Ecclectic Cuisine. The menu changes every week and ingredients are always bought fresh from local farmers. 481 N. Commons, Unit G, Aurora, IL 60504 (630) 375-0426.
Basil’s Greek Dining is a good upscale restaurant in Aurora with great service and delicious Greek food. Many locals recommend the Tzatziki appetizer and the menu continues with plenty of Greek and Mediterranean dinner plates. Try something off the desert menu which features many Greek pastries like Loukoumades or Baklava. 4000 Fox Valley Center Drive, Aurora, IL 60504 (630) 692-1300.
If looking for a great soup and salad place, Sweet Tomatoes has a soup and salad bar style of dining that constantly changes and offers a bigger variety in soups and salads. Whether you try a prepared salad or build your own, many recommend trying some of the fresh baked breads. 986 N Rte 59, Aurora, IL 60504 (630) 978-4017.
Aurora has many of the attractions expected from large cities. The SciTech Hands on Museum is a fun and educational day well spent without the high admission prices at city museums and teacher’s admission is free. 18 W Benton St, Aurora, IL 60506 (630) 859-3434.
The Phillips’s Park Zoo is one of the biggest family-friendly attractions in Aurora. Admission to the Zoo is always free and open year-round. Recently named in the “Top 10 Best Free Places to Take Your Kids this Summer,” the zoo is also home to Aurora Movies in the Park. Every week, the Zoo has outdoor showings of popular kids movies. 1000 Ray Moses Dr., Aurora, IL 60505 (630) 256-3730.
Fox Valley Park District Parks and Trails maintains over 150 parks in the Aurora area. This includes three water parks, Splash County Water Park, Phillips Park Family Aquatic Center, and Vaughan Aquatic Center. The district also maintains four Bike Trails, Hupp Skate Park, and a Dog Park.
For other good outdoor activities, the Park District also provides information about Lakes and Fishing in Aurora. For nature-lovers, the Red Oak Nature Center is free and open year round and is a popular field trip attraction for most schools in Aurora.
Blackberry Farm is another outdoor activity that is both family friendly and educational. Located on 54 acres of land, the farm has five historical houses displaying cultural and historical lifestyles and artifacts. 100 S. Barnes Road, Aurora, IL 60506, (630) 892-1550.
The summer time attracts people to the Aurora area and a visit to Raging Waves Water Park is conveniently only 15 minutes away in Yorkville. The park is open during the summer and features a lazy river, wave pool, cafe, and plenty of water slides for a day of family fun. 4000 N. Bridge St., Yorkville, IL 60560 (630) 882.6575.
Festivals in Aurora can be primarily found in the downtown area. Whether you prefer music or art, Aurora hosts fests like the Aurora Art Walk, Downtown Alive Festival Series, Sports Festival Summer Camp, and an annual Farmer’s Market. One of the funnest of the festivals is the Blues on the Fox Festival which features free Blues music for two days and great food.