Recreation opportunities abound in our region! Here are a few of the best our area has to offer.
Woodstock Winter Market
Through April, Sat. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Farmers market offerings along with several local artisans. Building D, McHenry County Fairgrounds, 12015 Country Club Road, (815) 338-5315, woodstockfarmersmarket.org.
Jan. 13, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Explore the ins and outs of snow science, test different recipes of fake snow, learn the difference between snow and ice, and make an exploding snowstorm. Time permitting, take a snowshoe hike through the woods. Ages 7-10. Red Oak Nature Center, 2343 S. River St., Batavia, (630) 897-1808, foxvalleyparkdistrict.org.
Leave it to Beaver
Jan. 13, 1-2 p.m. Learn about beavers and what they’re doing this time of year. Explore the woods to find beaver tracks. Ages 7-9. Red Oak Nature Center, Batavia, (630) 897-1808, foxvalleyparkdistrict.org
DIY Homemade Snowshoes
Jan. 15, noon-3 p.m., ages 11-17; Jan. 17, 6 p.m., ages 18 & up. Tromp around in the snow without having wet, cold feet when you wear your own snowshoes. Crystal Lake Park District, Nature Center, 330 N. Main St., Crystal Lake Ave., Crystal Lake, (815) 459-0680, crystallakeparks.org.
Art Attack Sip and Paint
Jan. 19, Feb. 16, March 9, 7 p.m. Bring snacks and your favorite beverage for an evening of creativity. Local artist Julie Kukreja gives stroke-by-stroke instruction to make an 11-by-14-inch canvas acrylic painting. Materials provided. Age 15 & up. Grand Oaks, 1401 W. Ill. Rt. 176, Crystal Lake, (815) 477-5873, crystallakeparks.org.
Jan. 19-20, 5-9 p.m. Bring your skis and enjoy cross-country skiing on trails lit only by candlelight, then gather around the campfire for refreshments. Ski if 4 inches of snow or more; enjoy a candlelight hike if not. No pets please. Coral Woods Conservation Area, 7400 Somerset, Marengo, (815) 338-6223, mccdistrict.org.
Eagles of Illinois
Jan. 20, 11 a.m. See the power and beauty of these magnificent birds of prey when you meet a Bald Eagle and a Golden Eagle, as well as other birds of prey. Reg. req. Prairieview Education Center, 2112 Behan Road, Crystal Lake, (815) 479-5779, mccdistrict.org.
Mysteries in the Snow
Jan. 20, 1:30-3 p.m. Discover who’s active in winter by observing animal tracks and scat. Dress in layers for the weather and wear warm, sturdy boots. Age 6 & up. Buffalo Creek Forest Preserve, 18163 W. Checker Road, Long Grove, (847) 367-6640, lcfpd.org.
Aldo Leopold and the Ghost of Sand County
Jan. 20, 1:30-3 p.m. A family-friendly musical portraying Leopold, the godfather of conservation, and his children as he sends them out on an adventure into the wilderness of Wisconsin. Family activities before and after the play. Reg. req. Lost Valley Visitor Center, Glacial Park, Ill. Rt. 31 & Harts Road, Ringwood, (815) 678-4532, mccdistrict.org.
Family Class: Loco for Cocoa
Jan. 20 & 28, 9:30 a.m. & 1 p.m. Discover how chocolate goes from a bitter bean to a delicious dessert; taste test different types, and practice dipping fruits and snacks into melted chocolates to make special treats. Reg. req. Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, (847) 835-5440, chicagobotanic.org.
Winter Scavenger Hunt
Jan. 21, 1:30-3 p.m. Bring the family for some outdoor fun and fresh air. After a campfire, head out on a scavenger hunt, looking at winter plant life and searching for signs of animal activity. The Hollows Conservation Area, Hollows Shelter 1, 3804 U.S. Rt. 14, Cary, (815) 338-6223, mccdistrict.org.
Abominable Snow Race
Jan. 27, events all day. The Midwest’s premier winter obstacle race challenges participants with 4-6 miles of snowy terrain, more than 20 winter-themed obstacles and potentially abominable weather. Blending fitness, family and fun, with lots to do before and after the race. Reg. online. Grand Geneva Resort and Spa, 7036 Grand Geneva Way, Lake Geneva, (800) 558-3417, abominablesnowrace.com.
Nature Open House & Campfire
Jan. 27, 5-6:30 p.m. Winter is a magical time to join naturalists for a campfire and nature activities to discover which animals are out and about in the woods. Dress for the weather. Edward L. Ryerson Conservation Area, 21950 N. Riverwoods Road, Riverwoods, (847) 968-3320, lcfpd.org.
Jan. 27-28, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Watch demonstrations of sled-pulling and skijoring, a winter sport where the dogs pull a person on skis. Visit the teams, inspect the equipment and have your picture taken with the rigs. Information available about husky adoption. Please leave pets at home. Morton Arboretum, 4100 Ill. Rt. 53, Lisle, (630) 968-0074, mortonarb.org.
Lake Geneva Winterfest
Jan. 27-Feb. 4. During the two-week festival, watch 15 teams of sculptors and artists create works of art out of huge snow blocks in the national snow sculpting competition; enjoy live music, food, a human dog sled race, live magic and illusion, helicopter rides, tours of Maxwell Mansion, a star party at Yerkes Observatory, a chili cook-off and the Cocoa Crawl in downtown Lake Geneva. Various locations, Lake Geneva, visitlakegeneva.com/winterfest.
Jan. 28 & March 25, 2 p.m. Put on your boots and hike through the woods, enjoying the sights and sounds of the season on your way to the cave. Reg. req. Red Oak Nature Center, Batavia, (630) 897-1808, foxvalleyparkdistrict.org.
Woodstock Groundhog Days
Feb. 1-4, events daily. Celebrate with daily events including groundhog trivia, a showing of the 1993 film “Groundhog Day” and a chili cook-off. Historic Woodstock Square, (815) 334-2620, woodstockgroundhog.com.
Mom & Son Date Night
Feb. 2, 6-8 p.m. Enjoy an evening of high-octane fun activities, entertainment and dancing. Dinner is pizza and salad, “Cars”-themed treats and a sundae bar. Costumes encouraged. Reg. req. Age 3 & up. Pottawatomie Community Center, 8 North Ave., St. Charles, (630) 513-4329, st-charlesparks.org.
Winter Scavenger Hunt
Feb. 3 & 18, 10 a.m. Search the winter woods for nature’s treasures, such as animal tracks, seeds, burrows and more. Reg. req. Feb. 3 hike at Elburn Forest Preserve, 45W061 Ill. Rt. 38, Maple Park. Feb. 18 event at Tekakwitha Woods Forest Preserve, 35W076 Villa Marie Road, St. Charles, (630) 232-1242, kaneforest.com.
Feb. 10, 1:30 p.m. Enjoy a short hike, have your family’s picture taken and make a natural picture frame to complete your Valentine’s Day gift. Lost Valley Visitor Center, Ringwood, (815) 678-4532, mccdistrict.org.
Feb. 11, 12:30 & 3 p.m. The historic Colonel Palmer House is a perfect setting for an elegant luncheon tea for you and your valentines. Tables of four available. Colonel Palmer House, 660 E. Terra Cotta Ave., Crystal Lake, (815) 477-5873, crystallakeparks.org.
Feb. 13, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Celebrate Fat Tuesday with New Orleans music, a hurricane drink, some Jambalaya, beads and boas. Take the bus to the Jacob Henry Mansion in Bettendorf, Iowa, for a day of Louisiana sizzle. Leave from Park Place, 406 W. Woodstock St., Crystal Lake, (815) 477-5873, crystallakeparks.org.
Sky Circus on Ice
Feb. 16-18, see website for details. This three-day event promises family fun with a blizzard run snow slide, expert ice and snow sculptors bringing frozen forms to life, hands-on snow carving and kite-making workshops, kite-flying lessons, and gigantic kite displays over Delavan Lake. Connor Doran from “America’s Got Talent” provides evening entertainment. Lake Lawn Resort, 2400 E. Geneva St., Delavan, Wis., (262) 728-7950, lakelawnresort.com.
Backyard Bird Count
Feb. 18, noon-3 p.m. Drop in to count birds and help monitor bird populations. Bring a smartphone or tablet for birding apps. Edward L. Ryerson Conservation Area, Riverwoods, (847) 968-3320, lcfpd.org.
Kane County Flea Market
March 3-4 & March 31-April 1, Sat. noon-5 p.m., Sun. 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Up to 1,000 dealers display, sell antiques and collectibles. A country breakfast is served on Sundays. Kane County Fairgrounds, 525 S. Randall Road, St. Charles. Info: (630) 377-2252, kanecountyfleamarket.com.
Maple Sugaring Days
March 3-4, 1-4 p.m. Celebrate spring with the family as you learn how to tap a maple tree, drill and set a tap, simmer it over an open fire as it thickens to syrup, then sample. Creek Bend Nature Center, LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve, 37W700 Dean St., St. Charles, (630) 232-1242, kaneforest.com.
Geneva Wedding Walk
March 4, 11 a.m. registration. This annual event in downtown Geneva brings together top wedding businesses in the Chicagoland area; brides have the opportunity to visit venues and boutique shops to make wedding planning a breeze. Tickets/Info: genevabride.com.
Flashlight Easter Egg Hunt
March 23, 7-8 p.m. Bring your flashlight and head into the wild to find what the Easter Bunny has left behind. Gather treats and roast marshmallows. Age 3 & up. Hickory Knolls Discovery Center, 3795 Campton Hills Road, St. Charles, (630) 513-4393, st-charlesparks.org.
Easter Egg Hunt
March 24, 10 a.m. Participants are asked to arrive at 9:45 a.m. to receive instructions. Bring baskets to collect eggs. Age 9 & under. Pottawatomie Park, 8 North Ave., St. Charles, (630) 513-4326, st-charlesparks.org.
Doggie Egg Hunt
March 24, 2 p.m. Grab a leash and let your pup hunt for eggs filled with treats and prizes. Photos with Easter Bunny following hunt. Bring basket; current vaccinations and tags required. Age 3 and up. Reg. req. James O. Breen Community Park, Campton Hills & Peck Roads, St. Charles, (630) 513-4330, st-charlesparks.org.
Breakfast with the Easter Bunny
March 28, 9-10 a.m. Children ages 1-6 decorate their own bunny-face pancake, have their picture taken with the Easter Bunny and finish with the bunny hop. Reg. req. Pottawatomie Community Center, St. Charles, (630) 513-4326, st-charlesparks.org.
Breakfast with the Bunny
March 30-31, 9-11 a.m. Enjoy a tasty springtime buffet; the Easter Bunny visits with families and delivers Easter treats to the kids. Morton Arboretum, 4100 Ill. Rt. 53, Lisle, (630) 968-0074, mortonarb.org.
Springtime on the Farm
April 7, noon-4 p.m. With winter winding down, help the Primrose farmers ready the farm for warmer weather; shell corn, make butter, prepare the garden for planting and assist with household chores. Reg. req. Primrose Farm, 5N726 Crane Road, St. Charles, (630) 513-4374, st-charlesparks.org.
The Amazing Race: St. Charles
April 8, noon. Teams of 2-4 participants (one of whom must be 16 or older) use clues to race around St. Charles performing mental and physical challenges that require brainstorming, communication, strategy and teamwork. Age 12 & up. Reg. req. Baker Community Center, 101 S. 2nd St., St. Charles, (630) 513-4329, st-charlesparks.org.