A 3 Day Itinerary
After spending so much time inside we miss being outside and exploring wide open spaces. It’s a great way to exercise, and has so many mental and physical benefits. Treat yourself to a weekend away in the outdoors this year and we’ve made it easy! The planning and researching is already done. Keep reading to discover your Escape into Nature.
Start your trip with the basics, checking in to where you’ll be staying. Hotels in the area sometimes offer deals and specials to Summer travelers. See Hotel Deals and Offers→ or see our Full List of Accommodations→ in the area.
Once you’re checked in and ready to begin your nature adventure, stop by Hawthorne Hill Nature Center. This nature center sits on 67 acres and contains hiking trails, meadows, and ponds. Benches make for a great spot to enjoy and learn more about the local wildlife. Or if the Bartlett Nature Center is closer, stop by to visit one of their seasonal exhibits and enjoy one of the outdoor shelters.
Next, we recommend stopping by Plank Road Tap Room. This award-winning tap room is located just outside urban Elgin and hosts one of the largest beer gardens in all of Chicagoland. Stop by to try a local brew, and food vendors serving from the food truck rotation. Also known for hosting bands and events, it’s a great place for adults looking to spend time in a comfortable laid-back outdoor setting with some amazing amenities and services. Plank Road Tap Room is not for children, so if you’re looking for a more family friendly afternoon meal we recommend visiting Old Republic Kitchen + Bar. This restaurant features a great outdoor dining experience and food to match.
To end the first day head over to one of the Elgin area’s forest preserves like the Hampshire Forest Preserve or the Burnidge Forest Preserve. Here you can enjoy nature in a more peaceful and relaxing setting for activities like reading, drawing or meditation. If you’re visiting with the family these preserves make a great place to enjoy trails perfect for running, and large fields for activities like frisbee and playing catch.
To begin day 2, enjoy the morning at Lords Park. Here you can walk along the nature paths, visit the historic Lord Park pavilion and Lords Park zoo to see the bison. There is also Wing Park which is a great fit for those looking for a more active way to begin the day. At Wing Park there are basketball, sand volleyball and tennis courts as well as baseball fields, a 9-hole golf course and a playground!
The main activity for day 2 is to enjoy the Fox River Trail. Running through South Elgin, Elgin, East Dundee and Carpentersville is 40 miles of paved trails. Enjoy the trails by bike by renting from Main Street Bicycles in Carpentersville located right off the trail. From there you can head south to East Dundee where you’ll find a few places right off the trail that make a perfect lunch stop. Rosie O’Hare’s Public House serves classic Irish pub fare and a patio space that overlooks the Fox River. There’s also Mockingbird Bar + Garden that features upscale dining and cocktail options and also has an amazing outdoor patio space.
Check out of your hotel and see if your golf game is par for the course at one of the best golf courses in the area. The Highlands of Elgin, Bowes Creek Country Club and Randall Oaks Golf Club are all excellent locations to enjoy for an afternoon. Or if you don’t want to bring out the clubs, try disc golf! If you haven’t been you’ll want to stop by Randall Oaks for or visit the course at Rolling Knolls Forest Preserve. Converted from an old country club golf course, this disc golf course features 18 holes situated around the rolling terrain and trees.
For a slower start to the day, start with some bird watching at Jelke Creek Bird Sanctuary outfitted with over 100 acres of curated lands optimized for its avian inhabitants. The sanctuary is dog-friendly and deeper ponds are available for fishing. There’s also Bluff Springs Fen which is named for its type of fen where the spring water stays a constant 50 degrees causing the flourish of unique plants, endangered species and other unusual fauna. For an extra interesting stop, walk through historic Bluff City Cemetery to see all kinds of markers dating back to the 18oos.
Get our Visitor’s Guide for all you need to know about the Elgin area.
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