(Cover photo credit: Downtown Neighborhood Association)
This summer will give us the opportunity to hit the road and explore some more attractions and communities close to home. Whether you are looking for live music, new ways to create memories with the family or want to learn more about the history of the region the Elgin Area has a weekend staycation for everyone.
Gail Borden Public Library brings thousands of visitors every week to this state-of-the-art facility located along the Fox River in downtown Elgin. Bald Eagles nesting in the winter months can be easily seen from the second floor but the summer exhibits are what people flock to see every year. Exhibits have included everything from Giants: African Dinosaurs to the Science of Supercroc. Check out the Gail Borden Public Library’s website to learn what is coming next. If you are looking for something to do that will have the whole family putting down their phones then Underground Retrocade in West Dundee is a must. Enjoy numerous cabinets of arcade games and hours of memories! Plus you can forget the quarters, for $15 you get a wristband for unlimited plays all-day long!
The Elgin area has two zoos that are perfect for a relaxing afternoon watching the animals. The Lords Park Zoo in Elgin is located a short walking distance from the Elgin Public Museum and is surrounded by the 108-acre Lords Park. This park offers numerous facilities in a picturesque setting of mature Hickory and Oak trees on rolling terrain where picnicking is a popular activity at one of the two permitted picnic shelters. Next, there’s Randall Oaks Zoo in West Dundee. Perfectly situated at the top of a hill, this zoo offers a variety of kid-friendly farm animals for viewing, petting, and feeding. A stroll through the barn gives visitors an opportunity to meet alpacas, goats, and a few of our other animal friends. This is another popular picnic destination with 141 acres of open space that includes a playground and full disc golf course.
Plan a three day staycation in the Elgin area your entire family will enjoy at www.exploreelginarea.com/familygetaway/.
Community Events and Live Entertainment
Summer events are back and in full swing for most communities across the Elgin Area. Elgin has announced the dates for summer concerts and movies in the park, South Elgin has taken over Wednesdays with food trucks during the lunch hours and then concerts or entertainment at night in the new Panton Mill Park. Also, the Village of East Dundee has brought back their popular event line-up including Motor Mondays, Wine Down Wednesdays and Thirsty Thursdays for visitors to enjoy food and drinks from the businesses surrounding the event while enjoying live entertainment. Live concerts will also be returning with the Dundee Township Park District.
Love shopping local? Then you’ll love the Elgin area, where we have 3 local farmers markets taking place this Summer! Experience locally made and sourced foods and products at the Downtown Elgin Farmers Market, Hampshire Farmers Market or the Depot Market in East Dundee. The Downtown Elgin’s Farmers Market can kick your weekend off every Friday from 3:00 PM-7:00 PM. This open-air market is a popular place for local artisans to sell their good and if you happen to stop by in the evening time, you’ll catch a glimpse of the dazzling lights strung up through the downtown area. And with all the local restaurants in Elgin’s downtown, you can head inside to cool off and grab a bite to eat or stroll through an art gallery before continuing through the market. The Hampshire Farmers Market takes place the third Saturday of every month during the summer and is known to be a true community event with lots of options for produce and a great assortment of local organizations to connect with. And last but certainly not least, the Depot Market is held 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM every Saturday mid-May through October and features around 40 vendors each week selling veggies, honey, flowers, and bedding plants, plus soaps, antiques, and collectibles.
A full list of area events can be found at www.ExploreElginArea.com/events.
Dive into Elgin’s Art Scene
Public art can be seen all around Elgin’s downtown area and by taking the self-guided tour, you’ll be led through parts of the scenic Fox River Trail. This tour is great to enjoy while the morning is still cool to watch the wildlife that calls the Fox River home while enjoying the Elgin art scene. 2021 will be a big year with new artwork set to be released throughout Elgin thanks to the Elgin Cultural Arts Commission.
For a truly unique stroll through an art gallery, you have to visit Funky Rooster Tattoo and Art Studio in downtown Elgin. The team who runs this tattoo shop are incredibly talented and you can find their work in the form of murals around town and on the bodies of locals as well. Because of the artistic prowess of the owners and employees of this shop, artwork is always on display which is why this location rightly features “art studio” in the name. As a testament of their originality, Funky Rooster is a recent addition to the Illinois Office of Tourism’s Illinois Made program. The last gallery for the day is located nearby at Side Street Studio Arts. This gallery features themed exhibitions that go on throughout the year and 2021 will be no different. Stop by to see what exhibition is running and enjoy more creations from local artists.
Plan a three day staycation in the Elgin area focused on immersing yourself in Elgin’s art scene at www.exploreelginarea.com/arts/.
An Architecture Adventure
Architecture is seeing history through the art of buildings. The Elgin area, and predominately the city of Elgin, is full of history which is reflected in the buildings sprinkled throughout this Fox River Valley community. We always encourage visitors and residents looking to learn more about the Elgin area’s history and architecture to first stop at the Elgin History Museum. Located in “Old Main” this museum is one of the area’s architectural sights. This museum will show you who settled in the Fox River Valley and why this impacted the types of homes and businesses that were built.
The museum also offers maps for self-guided walking tours for the historic residential district. This tour winds through the neighborhoods composed of homes listed in the national register of historic homes and display unique architectural styles, including the classic Painted Lady Victorian homes and Sears homes. In fact, these neighborhoods are so full of historic architecture, filmmakers come to Elgin to film scenes in their movies and TVs shows to capture the vision of the past. Once you start walking around these neighborhoods, you’ll see why!
Did you know the only farmhouse Frank Lloyd Wright designed and built in his lifetime is just 15 minutes from downtown Elgin in Hampshire? The Muirhead Farmhouse is owned by the family that had the home originally built so they have all correspondence between Frank Lloyd Wright and the family during the building process. This property is expected to be reopened for private tours later this year.
Plan a three day staycation in the Elgin area focused on learning more about architecture at www.exploreelginarea.com/architecture-adventure/.
Escape into Nature
The portion of the Fox River Bike Trail that runs through the Elgin area spans over 40 miles. It runs beside the scenic Fox River in Northern Illinois, alongside historic railroad lines, crossing six bridges and passing through nature preserves and charming towns. Riders can park for free and get on the trail in many locations including downtown Elgin by Festival Park or Gail Borden Public Library, South Elgin by the new Panton Mill Park or East Dundee’s Depot. If you would like to rent a bicycle then we recommend Main Street Bicycles in Carpentersville.
The Fox River Trail is also very popular for kayaking and canoeing, especially during the Summer months. We recommend renting equipment through Myak Kayak, based in Elgin. Check out our website for a list of routes recommended by the experts for all different experience levels but going out on an organized trip is best for beginners and groups.
For the sportier visitor, you’ll want to know about all first-rate public fishing spots situated along the Fox River, popular for catching bass, catfish and walleye. And, of course, there are plenty of tackle shops to hook you up with the right gear. Local favorite spots along the river in South Elgin, Carpentersville and West Dundee have become legendary among anglers for record-breaking walleye and smallmouth bass.
Plan a three day staycation in the Elgin area focused on reconnecting with nature at www.exploreelginarea.com/escape-into-nature/.