A short trip out of the city can do wonders for the soul. A little change in scenery can give you a burst of energy, while trying something new offers you an exciting look on life. It doesn’t take much—maybe an hour’s drive west or a short trip south.
Some of the best ideas for a weekend getaway begin right in your own backyard. These locales might be a bit smaller and quieter than you’re used to, but that’s why they’re perfect for your next excursion. It’s not the distance, size or pace of the destination that makes an experience meaningful. The adventure is the experience.
So come explore the Elgin area with us. While you’re here, sample some local fare—maybe grab yourself a Concrete treat from Van’s Frozen Custard after a Surf and Turf Burger from Prime BurgerHouse. Then, shop for unique gifts and indulge your senses in distinct architecture, art and live music. Elgin is waiting for you to soak in the vibe of a beautiful river city that is easy to get to and difficult to forget.
Want to be surprised? Check out Elgin Community College’s Arts Center to enjoy amazing artists in intimate theatres and three fine arts galleries. Or peruse a permanent art collection displayed around campus, featuring a diverse range of provocative work by international, national and regional artists such as Edward Burtynsky, Enrique Chagoya, Brian Dettmer, William Kentridge and more.
Catch a show at the Marcus Elgin Cinema or during the summertime Movies in the Park series held in Festival Park. Try your luck at the Grand Victoria Casino in downtown Elgin. Music lovers rock out at the RocHaus in West Dundee. And while you’re there, jump across the street to the nostalgic Underground Retrocade, full of classic arcade and pinball games. Oh, you like games? Then why not get lost over and over again at the PANIC Escape Room and Escapade 360?
Explore Fox Valley’s largest and most charming shopping venue with more than 30 unique shops at State Street Market in Elgin. The Half Full Nest in West Dundee and the Soulful Sparrow in Elgin both offer something for those who love timeless fashion, vintage quality and eclectic style.
Enjoy dinner with a view at Grumpy Goat Tavern or Bowes Creek Country Club, where you can relax on patios overlooking rolling greens and sparkling lakes of two award-winning golf courses. Head over to the Milk House in Pingree Grove for fresh, locally made ice cream your sweet tooth won’t soon forget.
Have you ever been to a supper club? You don’t need to be a member to enjoy Sunday brunch at the Anvil Club in East Dundee. Enjoy an aperitif or post-nosh craft beer at Emmett’s Brewing Co. or Black & Gray Brewing Co. You may even be lucky enough to catch a food-truck night.
When it comes to the outdoors, Elgin and the surrounding communities have it all! Explore lush parks, diverse hiking and biking options, walking art and architecture tours, stunning lakes, rivers and more.
Play like a pro at one of the many public golf courses in the area. For the seasoned golfer, Bowes Creek Country Club offers a member-for-a-day experience. Or play the course that generations have played—the oldest nine-hole municipal golf course in Illinois, Wing Park Golf Course.
If traditional golf isn’t your thing, there are several disc golf courses in the area, such as Rolling Knolls Disc Golf in Elgin or Randall Oaks Disc Golf in West Dundee.
You can bank on some excellent fishing opportunities in the Elgin area, from the Fox River to crystal-clear lakes and ponds in local forest preserves and parks.
The Fox River Bike & Water Trails offer more than 40 miles of lush scenery, greenery and rolling waters. The bike trail runs beside the scenic Fox River in Northern Illinois, alongside historic railroad lines, crossing six bridges and passing through nature preserves and charming towns. Downtown Elgin is a great spot to access the trails. Park in one of the free parking garages, and then head north to visit East Dundee and Carpentersville, or head south to explore South Elgin. Visitors coming from Chicago to Elgin are able to bring their bikes on Metra’s Milwaukee District West Line and get off at the National Street or Elgin exits, both a block away from the esteemed bike trail.
For animal lovers, try one of Chicagoland's most popular goat yoga classes! It’s about disconnecting from day-to-day stress, illness or depression and focusing on happiness all while enjoying the outdoors.
Take a break in West Dundee to experience Voyageur Landing Forest Preserve. The boat launch here is popular for a reason. This is a gorgeous spot to kayak, boat, cast a bait or kick back with a cold one on the deck and watch the eagles like a hawk. Choose your own adventure from one of several launch sites, or better yet, book a guided canoe tour. Don’t forget to outfit yourself for the trip with Kayak Myak in Elgin or South Elgin Canoe. Both provide kayak rentals and water maps of the trails. The Kane and Cook County Forest preserves are great spots to enjoy a picnic, hike miles of trails or catch a glimpse of wildlife.
Looking for a wild adventure? Visit one of the many zoos and animal sanctuaries in the area. Randall Oaks Zoo in West Dundee houses a variety of kid-friendly farm animals for viewing, petting and feeding. Historic Lords Park Zoo in Elgin includes buffalo, elk and whitetail deer, which can be seen all year long. During the summer, the zoo provides visitors with the opportunity to interact with animals from local farms. A bison-feeding program is also available year-round.
If you’re looking for a full-day adventure, look no further than Santa’s Village Amusement Park! This park features roller coasters, thrill rides, family classics and kid rides as well as animal attractions and Santa Springs water park. Speaking of water, you can find more than a dozen public pools and splash pads in the Elgin area to keep cool during the hot summer months.
Soak up the Elgin area’s rich history and heritage with interactive exhibits at charming museums and historic sites, such as the Elgin History Museum, Elgin Public Museum, Elgin Fire Barn No. 5 Museum, Fox River Trolley Museum or Bartlett History Museum.
Immerse yourself in hundreds of events, classes and exhibits all year long at the award-winning Gail Borden Public Library, the third-largest library in Illinois, located in downtown Elgin along the Fox River. Check out the entire wing dedicated to kids’ activities.
Have a kiddo that enjoys jumping and flipping in the air? Check out the area’s largest trampoline park at Epic Air in South Elgin. There is plenty to do all day long.Start planning your visit to Elgin, Illinois