Discover | Wheaton

April 2019 View more

Settling down

Wheaton is the county seat of DuPage County and was named
for two of its settlers, Jesse C. Wheaton and Warren L. Wheaton.

French fun

Stroll open-air booths selling flowers, produce, gifts, and edibles at the Wheaton French Market, open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. from mid-April through mid-November at Liberty and Cross Streets.

Dry times

The City of Wheaton was famously dry for nearly 100 years, having banned alcohol sales from 1887 until 1985.

College town

Wheaton has two Metra train stops on the Union Pacific West Line: one in downtown Wheaton and a second at College Avenue, near the campus of Wheaton College.


Wheaton does not have an Olympic speed skating track, but a trio of speed skaters are still happy to call it home.

Four-time Olympic speed skater Nancy Swider-Peltz (above), 62, grew up in Park Ridge and pursued a career in competitive speed skating while attending Wheaton College. The opportunity for her husband and classmate, Jeff Peltz, 60, to coach football on campus led them to stay and raise their children—Nancy Jr., 32; Jeffrey Jr., 29; and Johnny, 25—here. “We love the community and the schools,” Swider-Peltz says.

Coached by their mom, Nancy Jr. and Jeffrey Jr. also pursued competitive speed skating (see sidebar). Though they commuted back and forth to Milwaukee to train at Pettit National Ice Center countless times over the years, Wheaton always remained home base. “Downtown Wheaton has a small, old-time feel, and though some things are coming in that are new, there are shops that have been there forever,” Nancy Sr. says.


Adams Park

Just one square block in size, this pint-size park has benches, picturesque pergolas, and short walking paths. “This is the place I meet people in the summer,” Nancy Jr. says. “It’s fun to be by the fountain and just sit.” It’s also adjacent to the Wheaton Public Library, which has three floors, a tech center, a café, and a quiet room with a fireplace. “My mom involved us all in the library when we were younger—the book club and reading nights,” Nancy Jr. says.
Main Street between Wesley and Seminary

Five & Hoek Coffee

This coffee shop has a special place in Nancy Jr.’s heart, because it’s where she and fiancé Danny Puknaitis—a Naperville firefighter and son of Naperville Fire Chief Mark Puknaitis—got engaged. She now works here as a barista and recommends the protein bombs and oat milk lattes. Jeffrey Jr. is set to paint a mural in the shop’s new space when it expands next door.
114 N. Main St., 630.909.3480,

Bricks Wood Fired Pizza

The wood-fired oven at this cafe turns out thin-crust pizzas, as well as toasty French bread sandwiches. “It’s good, fast, quality food,” Nancy Jr. says. “I sometimes work the afternoon-to-closing shift at Five & Hoek and my coworkers will bring me dinner from there.”
103 E. Front St., 630.784.4620,

The Little Popcorn Store

“If you’ve got kids, they’ll just go crazy here,” Nancy Sr. says of this legendary candy emporium built in the alley between two buildings. Because of the close quarters inside, lines often extend out the door. “As a kid, you see rows and rows of candy … and it seems like it reaches up to the ceiling,” Nancy Jr. says. “I love caramel, so I loved getting the Bullseyes … and my dad would sometimes get the popcorn.”
111¼ W. Front St., 630.690.7712,

Mi Casa Restaurant

Jeffrey Jr. is a fan of this family-owned Mexican restaurant located north of downtown. “This family, they literally have seen me through all my ups and downs,” he says. “The food is so good, and whenever I go in, the owners have their kids there doing homework and they’re so happy to see me.” His go-to order is chips with salsa and the carne asada burrito.
1720 N. Main St., 630.668.4774

Sibling speed skaters Nancy and Jeffrey Swider-Peltz


The Swider-Peltz family has myriad competitive speed skating credits to their name. In 2002, Nancy Sr. and Nancy Jr. were the oldest and youngest speed skaters to compete in Olympic Trials at ages 45 and 14, respectively. Nancy Sr. was the first U.S. Olympian to ever compete in four winter games—1976, 1980, 1984, and 1988—and has coached the Park Ridge Speedskating Club since 1985.

Coached by their mother, Nancy Jr. and Jeffrey Jr. have competed internationally at the Speed Skating World Cup, as well as the World Championships. Nancy Jr. competed in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, and placed ninth in the 3,000-meter event and fourth in the team pursuit.

Since retiring from competition, the Swider-Peltzes have visited local schools to speak about navigating the successes and failures of competing as elite athletes.

As of press time, Jeffrey Jr. had just completed a speed skating-inspired gallery show as part of his senior project as a studio art major at Wheaton College. After graduation, he plans to work as a freelance artist and promote his own clothing line, Uesay Apparel. Nancy Jr. coaches beginner speed skaters and also hand-makes leather journals and engraved wooden art pieces sold through her online boutique,

Photos courtesy Swider-Peltz family

Illustration by Maeve Norton