Top Things to Do in Illinois' Fox River Valley | Midwest Living

Top Things to Do in Illinois' Fox River Valley

A winding waterway unites the Fox River Valley, home to a collection of suburbs 40 miles west of Chicago. Check out some highlights of St. Charles, Aurora, McHenry, Elgin and more.

What to do

Entertainment lovers enjoy the various live shows at the 1926 Arcada Theatre in downtown St. Charles.

Seasonal celebrations bring visitors to the Richardson Farm in Spring Grove. In fall, for instance, Richardson Adventure Farm boasts the world’s largest corn maze, a 700-foot-long zipline, almost endless kids’ rides and a pumpkin patch. 

Richardson Adventure Farm

Richardson Adventure Farm. Photo: Illinois Office of Tourism.

Fill your trunk with treasures at the Kane County Flea Market, held at the fairgrounds, usually the first weekend of every month, or search for finds at the dozen-plus antiques stores in St. Charles.

Cycling enthusiasts will thrive in the Fox River Bike Trail, which passes through nature preserves and the towns of Aurora and Geneva before linking to the 26-mile Prairie Trail in Algonquin. From there, bicyclists follow a rail-to-trail path to rural McHenry.

Fox River Bike Trail

Fox River Bike Trail. Photo: Elgin Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Grab a ticket and take a seat to a Broadway show or movie showing at the 1931 Paramount Theatre in Auroroa.

Shop at the 170+ diverse stores at the Chicago Premium Outlets in Aurora.

The McHenry Outdoor Theater is a throwback to drive-in theaters. Pile kids into the car and see a flick under the stars.

Discover the vital role of railroads at the Illinois Railway Museum, the largest railroad museum in the states, in Union (22 miles northwest of Elgin).

Illinois Railway Museum

Illinois Railway Museum. Photo: Illinois Office of Tourism.

What to eat

In the clubhouse at the Highlands of Elgin Golf Course, Grumpy Goat Tavern specializes in Creole-inspired dishes (like crawfish étouffée).

Grumpy Goat Tavern

Grumpy Goat Tavern. Photo: Courtesy of Grumpy Goat Tavern.

Two Brothers Roundhouse in Aurora features bands, beer gardens and dining in the country’s oldest limestone railroad roundhouse.

In McHenry, they take barbecue seriously at the Hickory Pit, known for beef brisket and pulled pork.

Where to stay

A variety of fun makes up St. Charles' Pheasant Run Resort, which includes the Zanies Comedy Club, as well as an 18-hole, par-72 golf course and spa.

For a posh stay in downtown St. Charles, choose the historic Hotel Baker, perched above the Fox River.

Looking for bed-and-breakfast options? The Mansion Bed and Breakfast, located on a private estate in West Dundee, retains its early-1900s charm with exquisite woodwork and stained-glass windows.

The Mansion Bed and Breakfast

The Mansion Bed and Breakfast. Photo: Courtesy of The Mansion Bed and Breakfast.

Woodstock’s Royal Victorian Manor Bed and Breakfast appeared in the 1993 cult classic film Groundhog Day. In early February, the town celebrates Groundhog Days with movie screenings and a walking tour of film sites.



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