I found a suggested road trip to the suburb of Naperville, Illinois in a recent AAA magazine:
Several things strike me about this list:
1. All but one of the listed items to do is in downtown Naperville (with that other location almost out of the suburbs on the northwest side). This is a testament to the vibrancy and uniqueness of downtown Naperville.
2. Related to #1, all but one of the locations is walkable from the others. This is probably pretty unique in many American suburbs which are automobile dependent (as is the majority of Naperville).
3. What is missing from this list: Naper Settlement, the downtown shopping options, the rest of Naperville (see #5).
4. There is no mention here of proximity to Chicago. Naperville stands on its own with over 140,000 residents even though Chicago is accessible by car or train within roughly an hour. Would a road trip to a smaller and (perceived to be) safer location – a suburb – be more appealing to many Americans than a global city?
5. Does this accurately represent what Naperville is? On one hand, yes. The downtown features of Naperville represent a unique collection of recreational and consumer options within a suburban downtown. On the other hand, no. Naperville is a sprawling suburb marked by numerous subdivisions, strip malls, and lots of driving. Naperville is unusual both because of its downtown and its size and wealth with the latter two features perhaps not providing much appeal for a road trip.