In 1981, the City of Naperville celebrated its 150th anniversary. The Riverwalk was designed as permanent feature that would forever memorialize the day. The once neglected and largely ignored shoreline was reimagined to become the star attraction in the City. Embraced as a gathering place for all ages, the linear park is a focal point of the community. Among the many notable landmarks are the aptly named Dandelion fountain and the Dick Tracy Statue which was erected to honor Naperville’s resident, Dick Lochner, the comic strip’s cartoonist. This iconic sculpture was designed by Lochner himself.
Nestled in the heart of Naperville’s downtown the Naperville Riverwalk offers 1.75 miles of paths paved with brick winding along the banks of the West branch of the DuPage river. The peaceful walk is highlighted by quaint bridges, lovely fountains, amazing sculptors and artwork. Strolling along trail will take visitors past sites such as the Water Street district, Centennial Beach, the Jaycees Riverwalk playground (ADA accessible), the Moser tower/Carillon, the paddleboat quarry and a tranquil forest.
From mid-May to early October, guests can rent paddle boats or kayaks for 30 minutes at a time and boat around the five-acre quarry lake located at the corner of South Eagle Street and Jackson Avenue. In 2017, the lake began allowing paddle boards, and the Naperville park district has been offering kayak and paddle boarding lessons ever since. The calm, easy water is perfect for beginners, and all necessary equipment is provided onsite.
Dotted with several benches along the way to sit back and relax, it’s an ideal place to commune with nature, rest and recover from your day, or just listen to the water as it flows. These benches are part of the City’s legacy gift program which allow citizens to purchase them or brick pavers to honor a friend or loved one or celebrate life’s special moments.
Located directly across from the Nichols Library lies the City’s Riverwalk amphitheater. It is in this attractive setting the library preforms story time on the Riverwalk on Tuesday evenings with a repeat performance on Wednesday morning. This weekly event which, happens from June to August, draws a large audience with many families picnicking on the lawn. It has become a much looked forward to experience in the town. The amphitheater is also home to several city sponsored summer concerts called Rollin’ on the river. October brings blustery nights prefect for the “Ghost Stories in the Park… in the Dark” series. In December, Santa’s house is set up in the nearby Grand Pavilion and children delight in a visit with Santa while also enjoying some light crafts and coloring stations. Pictures with Santa may purchased or visitors can take their own.
With so much natural beauty as a backdrop, it is easy to see why so many people opt to celebrate their special day on the Riverwalk. The park has been home to many a wedding and special event. Patrons can rent and reserve the Grand Pavilion, the Millennium Carillon and the Riverwalk amphitheater. Pictures are allowed and no Permit is needed.