This village in the western Chicago suburbs sprouted up in the 1960s and grew quickly through the 70s and 80s.
The name, Woodridge, comes from a wooded ridge on the east bank of the DuPage River, and was adopted by a historic public golf course that predated the village by decades.
Now home to almost 35,000, Woodridge has many of the hallmarks of an affluent Chicago suburb, with an abundance of public facilities run by the local Park District and ample wild space cared for by DuPage County.
The famous Morton Arboretum is minutes to the north, and a massive ropes and zipline course opened in a former quarry nearby in Lemont in 2020.
1. The Morton Arboretum
Woodridge is a stone’s throw from a major Chicagoland visitor attraction that conducts groundbreaking research on trees and plants.
With more than 4,100 plant species in its living collections, the Morton Arboretum is spread across 1,700 acres and has much to see on its grounds.
Started in 1962, the Schulenburg Prairie here is one of the oldest prairie restoration projects in the Midwest.
As well as a tapestry of wetlands, lakes and woodlands to explore, you can check out indoor and outdoor exhibitions and a stunning array of collections and sub-gardens including a Conifer Collection, Willow Collection, Ornamental Flowering Trees Collection, Maze Garden, Ground Cover Garden and Four Seasons Garden.
The dreamlike, interactive Children’s Garden is a must for families, covering four acres, with hidden streams, giant acorns and tree-root slides.
2. Cypress Cove Family Aquatic Park
Many of the communities in the Chicago suburbs have excellent outdoor pool complexes and Woodridge is no different.
Cypress Cove is a super attraction open throughout the school summer break, with a postseason that continues to Labor Day weekend.
The park has a kind of bayou theme, and features a large wading pool with zero-depth entry, a six-lane program pool, a 600-ft lazy river, a state-of-the-art spray playground, a sand play area and two long water slides, Pelican’s Plunge and Tabasco Falls.
And for a tasty snack or refreshing, hand-dipped ice cream you’ve got the Swamp Shack Cafe and Snapper’s Snack Shack.
3. Lost Mountain Adventure Golf
A lot of care has gone into this seasonal 18-hole miniature golf course close to the Woodgrove Festival Shopping Center in Woodridge.
Evoking an Indiana Jones set with its artifacts, rocky outcroppings, rope bridges and jungle huts, Lost Mountain shines for its wonderful landscaping.
The course is laid out on slopes leading up to a 22-foot waterfall, with three tiers and feeding a system of little springs and pools.
And although the setting is whimsical the holes are relatively sensible, requiring you to negotiate some tricky slopes instead of lots of outlandish obstacles. The course is even better lit up at night, and stays open until 10:30 pm on weekend evenings.
4. Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve
In the southeast of the village, Woodridge borders this 2,500 DuPage County forest preserve in a scenic hilly landscape.
Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve has a patchwork of habitats, with oak-maple woodland, savanna and prairie, growing three quarters of all the plant species native to DuPage County.
Some of the black walnuts in the preserve’s Bluff Savanna date back two centuries and are the oldest trees of their kind in the county.
There are 11 miles of trails in the preserve, for hikers, joggers, bicyclists, horseback riders and snowshoeing/skiing in winter, and these will take you to some very photogenic places.
Two that warrant special mention are the Rocky Glen Waterfall and the bluff overlook at Sawmill Creek.
5. Greene Valley Forest Preserve
The East Branch DuPage River flows through this DuPage County forest preserve on Woodridge’s west flank.
With more than 540 plant species in 1,388 acres, this is one of the most botanically diverse spots in the county, with brilliant displays of native wildflowers in spring.
The Greene Valley Forest Preserve also has a beautiful stand of mature oak woodland north of 79th Street, and among the 370+ species of native animals living in the preserve are horned owls, white-tailed deer and meadowlarks, as well as egrets and herons in the wetland areas along the river.
On weekends, May through October you can climb a 190-foot tower in the preserve for a lovely view of the Chicago skyline.
6. The Forge Zipline Park and Adventures
This spectacular outdoor adventure park opened at former quarries next to the Des Plaines River in nearby Lemont in 2020.
In 300 acres, the Forge offers a wealth of activities, but the main event has to be the Eight Towers Adventure, combining almost 300 ropes course elements with two miles of ziplines, much of which is over water.
You can also take in amazing views of the Chicago skyline, from more than 100 feet above the park.
The Two Towers Adventure is purposely designed for smaller climbers, and a host of other adventures are available, from paddlesports to rock climbing, biking, laser tag and escape rooms.
7. Seven Bridges Ice Arena
This multi-purpose indoor sports facility opened in Woodridge in 1994 and has an annual foot traffic of more than a million, making it one of the most visited centers of its kind in the Chicago area.
Under one roof there’s an NHL-size rink, an Olympic-size rink and a large 13,760-square-foot turf space used for a range of sports.
The Seven Bridges Ice Arena operates a variety of public programs, from public skating sessions to “Learn to Skate”, “Learn to Play Hockey” and sessions for freestyle skating and stick and puck.
8. Lake Harriet Park
Next to the Woodridge Park District Offices, this park is made up of a cute fishing pond and its wooded banks, surrounded by an upscale residential district.
You can wander or bicycle around the shore, or come to the peaceful fishing area. Non-motorized craft are allowed on the water here. In just under nine acres, Lake Harriet Park also has a picnic area and a multi-purpose open play area.
Another great thing about the parks in this part of Woodridge is that several are linked by multipurpose trails, so you can get from Lake Harriet Park to the restful Hawthorne Hill Woods, the splash pad at Hobson Corner Park or the disc golf course at Castaldo Park, without having to use a car.
9. Hobson Corner Park
At the foot of the Woodridge water tower, the Hobson Corner Park packs numerous amenities into quite a small space.
In summer the headline for families is of course the large splash pad, open daily, from the end of May through October 1.
Also at the park are tennis courts, picnic tables and a shade pergola. Hobson Corner Park is also on the Southern DuPage County Regional Trail, 49 miles long from Hinsdale in the east to Aurora in the west.
Locally you can use the trail to stroll or cycle to Triangle Park, 63rd St. Park and Summer Hill Park.
10. Cinemark Seven Bridges and IMAX
Touted by many as the best theater of its kind in the western suburbs, the Cinemark Seven Bridges has all of the signatures of a top modern cinema.
This multiplex opened in 2000 and is praised for its hygiene, comfortable seating, attentive customer service, high-quality popcorn (free refills) and world-class sound system. So, pretty much all you could want from a movie theater.
If you can, try to catch the next blockbuster at the IMAX screen for a truly memorable viewing experience.
Check the website for specials, including $5 movies all day on Tuesdays, and if you have time to kill before your movie starts there’s a decent arcade inside.
11. ARC – Athletic Recreation Center
This high-end public facility opened across 83rd St from Cypress Cove in 2017.
Among the features at the ARC are a 60 x 40-yard indoor artificial turf field, a multi-court gymnasium, a running track, a remarkable indoor ropes course, a state-of-the-art fitness center and various rooms for fitness classes.
The ARC hosts a range of leagues and events for all kinds of sports, including but not limited to soccer, rugby, lacrosse, football, softball and baseball.
You can also rent out various spaces for parties, and there’s also equipment for laser tag in the gymnasium.
12. The Promenade Bolingbrook
Partly overlapping with Bolingbrook there’s a wealth of shopping opportunities flanking the I-355 in the south of Woodridge.
Here you’ll find branches of Ikea, Costco and Meijer, as well as the Promenade Bolingbrook, a sprawling open-air shopping center that opened in 2007.
On pretty streets with trees, shrubs and flowers are more than 100 stores, including brands like Barnes & Noble, H&M, Macy’s, American Eagle, Claire’s and Victoria’s Secret. Also on site is an escape room, comedy club (CG’s) and an IPIC Theaters location.
13. Seven Bridges Golf Club
On both banks of the East Branch DuPage River, Seven Bridges is a highly-rated public golf course that opened in 1991.
Smartly integrating a wetland site, the course was designed by noted architect Dick Nugent, and water hazards feature heavily.
As well as the river there’s a whole system of little lakes, with water coming into play on no fewer than 14 of the 18 holes. This means that even the most experienced players will need to ponder their club choice and shot selection.
The course has a high reputation for its standard of maintenance, and previously hosted the Michael Jordan Charity during his time at the Bulls.
14. Skeleton Key Brewery
This craft microbrewery a little way south of the Kohl’s on Lemont Rd has a big local following and created additional seating in 2021.
Sadly Skeleton Key Brewery was damaged in the tornado that struck Woodridge and Naperville on Father’s Day 2021, and when we wrote this article was temporarily closed.
Keep an eye on the website for news of reopening so you can sample the Skeleton Key’s acclaimed lineup of beers, including IPAs, Hazies, Saisons, Oatmeal and Milk Stout, and the ever popular Scotch Ale.
Usually there’s a lot of live music, more than most craft breweries, and food trucks are ever-present on weekend evenings.
15. Greene Valley Dog Park
Dog owners know it can be tricky to find an off-leash park for their four-legged friend. In Woodridge you have a superb one on the north side of the Greene Valley Forest Preserve.
The off-leash area is mostly grass fields, with two sections, one for big dogs and one for smaller and older dogs.
You can set off along the trails for a hike with your pup, although you’ll need to remember to have the dog’s shots and tick and flea treatment up to date.
The Greene Valley Dog Park is run by DuPage County, and it’s easy to get hold of a day permit or annual pass via their website.