We are extremely excited to announce 2023’s list of top 10 libraries for kids in the western suburbs, as voted by our readers. Thank you to all our Kidlist readers for your votes! These libraries were chosen for their kid-friendly play areas including kitchens, sensory play areas, STEM toys, dress-up areas, puppet theaters, games, and more. A trip to one of these spots is a fantastic, free way to keep your kids entertained. As a mom to twins who need constant entertaining, I love that in most libraries, organized programs and events are ever-changing, too.
Top 10 Libraries in the Western Suburbs
Downers Grove Public Library
1050 Curtiss Street
Downers Grove, IL 60515
Our readers picked the Downers Grove Library as the #1 library for kids in Chicago’s west suburbs! Kids can explore a big light-up wall, a discovery box area, a train table, a doll house, an animal barn, large magnetic shapes, blocks, puzzles, iPads, and more. The kitchen also known as Mouse Cafe is stocked with play food, a cash register, shelves, tables and more.
The baby area is going through a slight renovation and was pulled out in early January 2023; watch out social media for updates on the area.
The library hosts daily story times, including on Saturday mornings. Some are drop-in, while others require pre-registration. Personally, we love their special events! We have been coming here for years for infant playtime, family movie and game times, LEGO building groups, guided STEM activities, and special classes for school-aged children when school is not in session.
Located just south of the Downers Grove Main Street Metra stop, the library would be an easy train ride from another town. Looking to make a longer outing? Near the entrance of the library is an ice cream cafe specializing in egg waffles. Just being in downtown Downers Grove means you and your family are surrounded by plenty of dining options!
Wheaton Public Library
225 N. Cross Street
Wheaton, IL 60187
Wheaton has a huge lower level dedicated kids’ area with tons of different play spaces, from a giant fruit stand to a row of activity cubes. There are tables set up with games, craft stations, take-home crafts, and more. The kids area has plenty of space and activities spread out across that it can easily entertain your kids for hours between the puzzle areas, game areas, coloring areas and more.
The library also has a coffee shop, Altiro, which serves coffee, sandwiches, baked goods, and more. They keep board games stocked in the cafe area so you can take your time with treats and a game!
Wheaton’s library is walkable from the downtown area, so it’s easy to turn a library trip into a longer outing. Check out the calendar for events including story times and a daily after-school STEAM program for grades 3–6. Plan your visit for the model train Saturdays that take place on the third and fifth Saturday monthly at the DuPage County Historical Museum right across the street.
La Grange Public Library
10 W Cossitt Ave
La Grange, IL 60525
Kidlist reviewers loved the La Grange library for being clean, organized, and packed with options for fun. It’s on the main floor and has floor to ceiling glass windows which allows for wonderful light into the library. The library organizers manage events from Zumba for kids, story times, puppet shows and more. The children’s area is large and includes tons of books, puzzles, and DVDs, as well as play spaces with doll houses, vehicles, and more for little kids and bigger kids alike. There’s also a large media center where kids can play and learn on both desktop and laptop computers.
Elmhurst Public Library
125 S. Prospect Avenue
Elmhurst, IL 60126
Elmhurst is a big library that welcomes kids in with an aquarium display with some beautiful bright colored fishes. Babies and toddlers can explore the redesigned Learning Garden play area while older kids will find puzzles, computers, giant stuffed animals, and fun seating areas throughout the first floor. The staff hosts events like story times, LEGO club, baby playtimes, STEM workshops, and more and are usually open to walk-ins with no registrations required, be sure to check their website for the full list of events.
There’s a café area near the lobby with coffee drinks and food that closes around 4.30pm. You can also bring your own food in to eat at the tables. It is is walkable from the downtown area, so plan your day to include checking out downtown Elmhurst.
Indian Prairie Public Library
401 Plainfield Road
Darien, IL 60561
Readers praised the Indian Prairie Library’s rotating selection of crafts and projects for kids to do. It was renovated not long ago and provides a wider kids area for play which includes pretend play opportunities such as a kitchen, costumes for imaginative play, a train table, a light table and plenty of other vehicles to keep the young ones entertained. There are smaller tables for younger kids to work on coloring and a larger table in the middle of the library. The lego display wall is a constant hit with kids. My kids have personally enjoyed the seasonal scavenger hunt that takes place in exchange for a sticker.
Older kids can play on the giant chess board, camp out on the computers and even use the makers studio (for card holders) to work on special projects.
Linda Sokol Francis Brookfield Library
3541 Park Ave,
Brookfield, IL 60513
In July 2021, the new library was unveiled after renovations. The library features floor-to-ceiling windows that let in a flood of natural light. The first-floor children’s area has a bright blue, green, and gray color scheme that’s fresh and welcoming. The kids’ area is organized with a small area with foam mats where younger kids can play safely, as well as plenty of bins with toys such as dinosaurs, STEAM materials, vehicles and more.
Naperville Public Library
200 W. Jefferson Ave.
Naperville, IL 60540
Naperville’s library has three branches: the 95th Street Library, Naper Blvd Library and the Nichols Library. It’s the Nichols Library that comes in at number 7 on our readers’ list! On the main floor, you can find views of the Naperville river, or play with the dollhouses and vehicles. Storytimes and other events held at this library also set it apart, with many options to cater to various age groups.
Before you go, make sure to stop upstairs to peek into the tiny model library. Kids can step up to get a good view and press a button to make the magical display light up.
The Nichols Branch is located in the heart of the downtown area, which gives options for lunch or outdoor fun by the Riverwalk on a nice day.
Thomas Ford Memorial Library
800 Chestnut Street
Western Springs, IL 60558
This isn’t a huge library, but the space has been maximized. Kids love the reading train they can climb aboard and make themselves comfortable in little benches to enjoy books or some imaginary play. The library was renovated in 2019 to add additional study rooms, new spaces for children’s play and Storytime, and a new Teen and Tween space.
You also won’t want to miss the iconic Western Springs Water Tower play area with hand puppets to put on a show. The new space has magnetic letters and Velcro ramps to arrange an obstacle course for balls to roll down. In July 2022, this library also joined the growing number of local libraries that have gone “fine free,” where no overdue fines are charged for materials.
Geneva Public Library
227 S. Seventh St.
Geneva, IL 60134
In our previous top 10 library article, we predicted that this spot would likely be on this list post renovation in 2020. We’re delighted to report that this prediction came true! The Geneva Public Library’s newly renovated children areas provide plenty of space and is kept nice and clean. The children’s team does a wonderful job of organizing various events based on aged groups such as meet the critters, Lego displays, and storytime.
Downtown Geneva boasts many cafes and restaurants, including Graham’s Chocolate and the All Chocolate Kitchen, both just two minutes away. You’re also not a far drive from the St. Charles library if you want to keep exploring there, too!
Woodridge Public Library
3 Plaza Drive
Woodridge, IL 60517
The second level of the children’s area was remodeled in 2016. I visited last week and can confirm that the space has been maintained beautifully! The staff are always happy to help. They put on an extensive range of programs for all ages, including programs catered for other languages. The space is big and bright with a train table, a light table, a magnet board with spinning gears and alphabets, and more.
Looking for more to do nearby? Just two minutes away is a McDonald’s with a playplace. You can also head across the street to Lake Carleton to enjoy the playground behind the Woodridge Park District center.
Local Library Renovations and Projects in 2023
Finally, we wanted to give you a few updates on changes happening to libraries around our towns:
- The Westmont Public Library will begin renovation work starting February 6th 2023. The renovation will last approximately 4 weeks and visitors can expect new flooring, paint, and expanded play area and more. During the renovation, spaces and services will be limited.
- The La Grange Park Public Library will undergo renovation in Spring 2023 to repair water damage and revamp the existing floor plan. Some of the additions to the building will include a new bathroom placement on the main floor, more meeting rooms and enclosed spaces, and even a ‘Maker Space,’ which would provide opportunities for people to use and learn different technologies, like 3D printers.
- The Lisle Public Library started renovations in March 2022 that was expected to end in 10-12 months. Renovations were focused on some of these areas such as family restrooms, increased youth services department, more study rooms, centralized entrances, accessible staff, enhanced technology and more. Renovations are expected to be completed by end January 2023.
- Joliet Public Library completed its renovations in September 2022. A discovery zone area was added for children to encourage creative play.
- Palos Heights Public Library just finished their renovation and we heard it has an amazing kids area! Maybe it will make the list next year.
- The New Helen Plum Library in Lombard opened in April 2023. Click here for a sneak peek!
Looking for more opportunities for indoor play? Our Guide to Indoor Play Areas has tons of options for you as well as features and pricing for each one.