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The Group Travel Leader Going on Faith Select Traveler

‘Clusters of Convenience’ in DuPage County

It has nearby big city excitement, it is a major metropolitan suburb, and it has many quaint little cities scattered around it. DuPage County, Illinois, combines these elements into a unique place to meet, sleep, dine, shop and explore.

DuPage County is home to a surprising 38 different commÎunities holding a combined population of 932,000 and scattered around 337 square miles. In Illinois, this suburban county is second only in population to Chicago’s Cook County.

“We’re just 20 miles west of Chicago,” said Nanette Traetow, director of marketing and operations at the DuPage Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We use three words when we describe DuPage County as it compares to Chicago. Those are convenience, affordability and variety. We’re close to O’Hare International Airport [15 miles away] and Chicago Midway International Airport [21 miles away].”

The area is serviced by eight major expressways, such as the technology- and industry-heavy I-88 corridor. There are also Interstates 290 and 355. For history buffs, a portion of the famed Route 66 winds its way through DuPage County. Mass transportation makes getting around easy. There are three commuter rail lines provided by Metra and several more from Amtrak. They pass through various local communities and can be taken directly into Chicago’s business loop.

Besides the convenience, DuPage County is less congested than Chicago, has lower sales taxes for the budget-conscious meeting planner and has hotels that offer free parking, which you don’t often find in Chicago. Several colleges and universities make DuPage County their home. There is a low unemployment rate in the county, a healthy economic sign, and major corporations such as McDonald’s, Ace Hardware, Blistex and Sharpie have their headquarters in Brook Park.

DuPage County likes to promote what it calls its four “Clusters of Convenience.” In these areas, meeting venues are either a short walk or a short drive from hotels, restaurants, entertainment or shopping. “It really takes the hassle out of logistics for meeting planners,” said Traetow.

These clusters areas include the Oak Brook area, an upscale international destination; the Lombard area, known for its historic town center and beautiful Lilacia Park; the Naperville/Lisle/Warrenville area, with tree-lined streets and a technology corridor that draws people and activities; and the Itasca/Schaumburg area, with its premier golf resort, river walk and enjoyable nightlife.

Those who plan meetings, conferences and special events have a powerful incentive to book DuPage County.

Local Appeal

The DuPage area boasts numerous attractions, with everything from a world-famous zoo to a beautiful arboretum, wineries, art galleries, historic homes and museums.

Many meeting attendees need to get outdoors after work for some recreation. DuPage County may be part of a metropolis, but it has its wild side, with 450 miles of trails on which to meander plus woodlands, lakes, rivers and streams, as well as 50 golf courses. There’s also indoor recreation, a water park, sports complexes and ice arenas.

Shopping is a great escape from work pressures. DuPage County has huge shopping complexes full of brand-name stores, inviting open-air shopping centers, outlet centers for bargain hunters and quaint little town centers full of boutiques.

When traveling, what meeting attendee doesn’t enjoy eating at an exciting restaurant they can’t find back home? Because DuPage County is so close to Chicago, it has many of the same world-class restaurants or “sister restaurants.” Overall, there are hundreds of restaurants to choose from in the county.

Attractions are everywhere in DuPage County. Meeting delegates can spend free time at the world-famous Brookfield Zoo. Another outdoor activity is a visit to the 1,700-acre Morton Arboretum. The first winery in Illinois is located in DuPage County and is open for tours and sipping. There are museums and historical and cultural exhibits to take in, too.

The performing arts are a great option for delegates out on the town during nonworking hours. They can enjoy Broadway-style musical and theatrical productions, concerts of all types and comedy clubs. Some listen to the Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra, entertaining the western suburbs and celebrating its 50th year.

Anytime delegates or meeting attendees come to DuPage County and have a little free time, they should check the area’s year-round calendar of events. The many communities in DuPage County host their own annual festivals, fairs, tours, shows, celebrations and concerts. There are also plenty of professional sports to see in person. DuPage County is home to many PGA and LPGA championship matches. Junior World Figure Skating Championships, Professional Bowlers Association tournaments and NCAA Track and Field Championships have also been held in the county. If that’s not enough, major league baseball, football, basketball and hockey are all a short distance away in Chicago.

Dan Dickson

Dan has been a communicator all his professional life, first as an award-winning radio and TV news reporter for two decades and then as a communications director for several non-profits for another decade. He has contributed to The Group Travel Leader Inc. publications since 2007.