Hilltop – Rock Island, IL

The Hilltop neighborhood of Rock Island, Illinois, provides area residents with a young, vibrant and thriving community for all types of people. Best known for being the home of highly respected Augustana College , Hilltop offers community members more than just the charm and convenience of a college town. Here, those who call Hilltop home can take in stunning views of the Mississippi River, a safe, small-town community feel and countless dining and entertainment options. Its convenient location just a mile away from the heart of Rock Island and proximity to local parks makes this neighborhood a popular destination for young professionals and growing families to call home.

Schools in Hilltop

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Restaurants & Nightlife

Most of the dining and nightlife options in Hilltop center around the large community of college and graduate students in the area. Residents can enjoy inviting local pubs and restaurants that serve up traditional American cuisine with plenty of happy hour specials to boot. At Legends Corner, right along the edge of the Augustana College campus, diners can enjoy locally made traditional American dishes. While sandwiches, soups and salads make up a majority of the menu, the establishment’s infamous Bourbon Bacon Burger has become a “must try” dish for all who visit the area. In the mood for traditional Mexican cuisine? Visit locally owned La Rancherita Restaurant right in the heart of Hilltop. Known for their eclectic mix of traditional Mexican cuisine and modern Tex-Mex dishes, this restaurant has become a local favorite, especially for their signature pork tacos. At the heart of the neighborhood lies Kavanaugh’s Hilltop Tavern , a friendly neighborhood bar and grill known for its Rolling Smoke BBQ and weeknight drink specials. In the warmer months, make sure to head back to the 1,300-square-foot covered patio and try some of their infamous Rolling Wings. This bar is particularly known for being a hot spot on St. Patrick’s Day, when the bar hosts one of the biggest celebrations in the city.

History & Culture

The origins of Rock Island date back to 1835, when the U.S. Army secured the area for settlers from Sauk leader Black Hawk. In 1875, Augustana College moved to Rock Island, developing the Hilltop community and the surrounding area. By the turn of the century, industrialization began transforming the neighborhood, and as musicians began traveling to the riverfront community, Rock Island became known for its jazz music. Every year, events such as Gumbo YaYa in Rock Island and the Quad City-wide Bix Jazz Fest celebrate the town's history with jazz music. Several museums surround Hilltop, including the Fryxell Geology Museum, where visitors can learn more about the natural landscapes on the area and how they have shaped Rock Island. Just down the street at the Augustana Art Museum, those interested in the arts can enjoy a rotating collection of pieces from some of the world’s top artists.


Most residents of Hilltop choose to travel by car thanks to the amount of free parking lots, complimentary street parking, and the community’s close access to the Arsenal Bridge, which connects the Iowa and Illinois sides of the Quad Cities. U.S. Interstates 74 and 80 are just minutes away from Hilltop, making traveling to the surrounding Quad Cities and to surrounding Iowa and Illinois towns a breeze. Cabs are available in the area but can be hard to hail, so most residents call one of the nearby stations. Uber does not service the community, but Hilltop has a free circulator bus that takes residents around to the bar districts in Davenport and Rock Island on weekend evenings. The Hilltop community is serviced by the Rock Island County Metropolitan Mass Transit system. This includes a bus that travels around Rock Island and neighboring Moline with dozens of stops throughout the area. Hilltop itself isn’t particularly walkable, due to its sprawling nature, and the large hill running through the community makes it difficult to bike throughout the neighborhood.


Life in Hilltop carries an average to below average cost of living when compared to both the rest of the city and the state average, making it an affordable neighborhood for college students and young professionals to call home. A bus ride to the city center costs approximately $1, while gas prices settle in around 0.8 percent lower than the national average. The typical one-bedroom apartment in the area costs around $637 per month, while a beer at the local pub costs around $2 per pint.


Shopping options in the Hilltop area of Rock Island include a number of local boutiques and modern conveniences that make life in the neighborhood convenient for all who call this neighborhood home. Stop by the local Family Dollar for household essentials, or pick up your everyday items, medications and beauty supplies at the neighborhood Walgreens. At Handy True Value Hardware, all types of home improvement items line the shelves. Those interested in more of a boutique shopping experience can visit Barkan’s, which stocks hip fashions for men, including the latest designer shoes and sneakers. This boutique holds a strong reputation as one of the premier destinations to buy men's designer clothing and limited-edition sneakers in the area. There's more to local shopping than just traditional clothing boutiques. At Teranga House of Africa Boutique, specialty lotions, oils and creamy skin butters from Africa provide shoppers with the opportunity to buy exotic international products right in the heart of the Midwest. Interested in antiques? Hilltop is home to Fred and Ethel’s Fifties Retro Antiques, featuring an eclectic collection of one-of-a-kind trinkets and historic pieces from the '40s, '50s and '60s. Residents have a couple of bargain grocery-store options, with both a Save-A-Lot and an Aldi in the area. The Rock Island Community Gardens Consortium hosts two weekly farmers markets in the summer months, one at Franklin Field and one at the Broadway Church. Fresh produce, jams and jellies are available for purchase.


Several parks throughout Hilltop make this neighborhood a popular spot for families, active individuals and those with canine companions. At Lincoln Park, community members enjoy baseball diamonds, well-lit tennis courts and basketball courts where many community sports leagues host their games. In the warmer months little ones can play on the community playground, while in the winter the park is a popular sledding destination. Lincoln Park also hosts its own outdoor theatre and band shell where several concerts, including orchestra performances and local school band performances, take place. At Old Horace Mann Park, residents can take advantage of a public ball diamond that hosts both Little League games and adult kickball leagues, as well as plenty of green space for pets and little ones to roam.