Recreation opportunities abound in our region! Here are a few of the best our area has to offer.
Ellwood House Holiday Traditions
Through Dec. 7, Sat.-Sun. Enjoy a holiday open house and tour the beautifully decorated mansion. Volunteers in each room relate the history of the house and generations of Ellwood family members. Holiday open house special events Dec. 5-7. Ellwood House Museum, 509 N. 1st St., DeKalb, (815) 756-4609, ellwoodhouse.org.
Bird Walks at Volo Bog State Natural Area
Through Dec. 14, Sat.-Sun. 8 a.m. Dress for the weather; BYO binoculars/field guides or borrow from leader. Registration requested. Parking lot, Volo Bog State Natural Area, 28478 W. Brandenburg Road, Ingleside, (815) 344-1294.
Nov. 21, 6-8:30 p.m. Live holiday displays in the windows of downtown businesses, special moonlight madness deals, activities for the entire family. Downtown Sycamore, discoversycamore.com.
Christmas on the Fox
Nov. 22-23, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Juried show of more than 90 exhibitors with quality, handmade art and crafts. Kane County Fairgrounds, 525 S. Randall Road, St. Charles, (815) 772-3279, artoftheheartlandinc.com.
Nov. 27-Jan. 1, Th.-Sun. 5-9 p.m. Stroll the museum grounds and experience a magical holiday lights celebration. Presented by The Sunrise Rotary Club of Naperville. Naper Settlement, 523 S. Webster St., Naperville, (630) 420-6010 napersettlement.org.
Woodstock’s Lighting of the Square
Nov. 28, 6:30 p.m. Late-night shopping and dining, and a visit from Santa. Tree lighting 7 p.m. Caroling before and after. Historic Woodstock Square, woodstock-il.org.
Festival of Lights Parade
Nov. 28, 7 p.m. Decorated floats, marchers, music and Santa’s arrival. More than 50 parade entries and thousands of spectators attend this lighted nighttime parade. Downtown Crystal Lake, downtowncl.org.
Nov. 28-29, Fri. 5 p.m. Lights come on at First Street Plaza. Sat. 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Family activities downtown, ending with Electric Christmas Parade. Downtown St. Charles, downtownstcharles.org.
Christmas on the Fox Arts & Crafts Show
Nov. 29-30, 10 a.m. Shop quality, handmade gift & holiday items. Christmas trees, music, readings. Kane County Fairgrounds, 525 S. Randall Road, St. Charles, (815) 772-3279, artoftheheartlandinc.com.
Nov. 29-30, 12:30-3:30 p.m. Learn to make bright, colorful, hard candies; take home recipes to start your own holiday tradition. Programs begin on the half-hour. All ages. Free. Registration not required. Kline Creek Farm, 1N600 County Farm Road, West Chicago, (630) 876-5900, dupageforest.com.
Nov. 30, 2-5 p.m. The parade around the Square officially heralds Santa’s arrival. Call the Woodstock Opera House, (815) 338-4212, for special holiday program info and to visit the Christmas Tree Walk set up in the Community Room. Historic Woodstock Square, woodstock-il.org.
Celebration of Lights Festival
Nov. 30, 5:30 p.m. Tree lighting with Santa, hayrides, food vendors, roasted chestnuts, decorated holiday trees by local groups, visit with Santa. Batavia Riverwalk, 100 N. Island Ave., Batavia, bataviaparks.org.
Little Friends Holiday Parade of Lights
Nov. 30, 3:45 p.m. entertainment, 5 p.m. parade. Festivities, brightly lit floats, musical entertainment, Santa and Mrs. Claus’ arrival. Begins Water & Webster streets, north on Main, left on Van Buren, ends at Naper School. Downtown Naperville, downtownnaperville.com.
Winter Chocolate Walk
Dec. 4, 5-7 p.m. Enjoy the quaint downtown shops & sample chocolate treats, from hot chocolate and chocolate martinis to truffles and fudge. Get your guide cards signed at each stop to enter a prize drawing. Downtown Sycamore, (815) 895-3456, discoversycamore.com.
Walk With Santa
Dec. 5, 5:45 p.m. Parade with Santa, Mrs. Claus and elves through downtown to the courthouse lawn, where Santa will light the holiday tree and then be available at his house for hearing children’s wish lists. Begins at State Street Theater, 420 W. State St., Sycamore, discoversycamore.com.
Geneva Christmas Walk House Tour
Dec. 5-6, Fri. 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Sat. to 5 p.m. Five distinctive homes, decorated for the holidays by local decorators, are opened to visitors for self-guided tours. $30. Tickets: Geneva Chamber of Commerce, 8 S. 3rd St., Geneva, (630) 232-6060, genevachamber.com.
Dec. 5-7, Fri. 6 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m. The arrival of Santa Lucia, Santa’s lighting the great tree, roasted chestnuts, strolling carolers, a live nativity; free carriage rides on Saturday and Sunday. Downtown Geneva, genevachamber.com.
Santa’s Frozen Fingers
Dec. 6, 10:30 a.m. shotgun start. Snow or shine. With every hole turned into a par 3, it’s like playing a new course. Annual charity event, this year benefitting Toys for Tots. Players bringing in a new or gently used toy receive a free round of golf for 2015 season. Register by Dec. 5. Pheasant Run Golf Resort, 4051 E. Main St., St. Charles, (630) 584-6300, pheasantrungolfresort.com.
Dec. 6, 1-3 p.m. An annual tradition, this year featuring Elgin Opera singers. Elgin Area Historical Museum, 360 Park St., Elgin, (847) 742-4248, elginhistory.org.
Christmas on the Farm
Dec. 6, 1:30-3:30 p.m. Celebrate a Victorian Christmas inside the farmhouse. Say hello to an old-fashioned Santa, and take your picture in a sleigh. Stop by a warming fire for caroling and hot apple cider. Activities ongoing. All ages. Free. Registration not required. Kline Creek Farm, West Chicago, dupageforest.com.
Kane County Flea Market
Dec. 6-7, Sat. noon-5 p.m., Sun. 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Up to 1,000 dealers display and sell antiques, collectibles & shabby chic. Country breakfast served on Sundays. $5/Free 12 & under. Kane County Fairgrounds, St. Charles, kanecountyfair.com
Polar Express Storytime Train
Dec. 6-7, 9:30 a.m.-noon, 1:30-4 p.m. Kids travel to the North Pole to pick up Santa & his friends, return to Geneva for lunch or dinner at Front Street Cantina, then Santa’s lap for gift lists and photos. Festive pajamas encouraged. Register early; registration required, (630) 232-4542, genevaparks.org. Train departs Geneva Metra station.
Happy Holiday Railway
Dec. 6-7, 13-14, Sat.-Sun. Take a magical train ride to visit Santa Claus and his elves at the Toy Workshop. Those on Santa’s “Good” list get a gift. Special Fare Event. No passes honored. Holiday event; grounds/buildings not open. Illinois Railway Museum, 7000 Olson Road, Union, (815) 244-7245, irm.org.
Dec. 6-21, Sat.-Sun. 2-6 p.m. Holiday classics, festive decorations, crafts, snacks, hayride, visit Santa. $5/Age 2 & up. Blackberry Farm, 100 S. Barnes Road, Aurora, (630) 892-1550, foxvalleyparkdistrict.org.
Woodland Santa’s Holiday Workshop
Dec. 7, 10-11:30 a.m. Activities include Santa’s arrival pulled by dogsled team, making an ornament, writing a letter for Santa, Santa photo op, snacks. All children must be accompanied by an adult. Hickory Knolls Discovery Center, 3795 Campton Hills Road, St. Charles, (630) 513-4399, stcparks.org.
Dec. 7, 5-7 p.m. An informative presentation, a hike to listen for owls, meeting with a live owl. Hilly terrain; dress for the weather. Lost Valley Visitor Center, Glacial Park, 6316 Harts Road, Ringwood, (815) 338-6223, mccdistrict.org.
Introduction to Snowshoeing
Dec. 10, 7-8 p.m. Indoor lesson on the best way to dress, where can you go, equipment needed. Lost Valley Visitor Center, Ringwood, mccdistrict.org.
In Search of Eagles
Dec. 13, 9 a.m.-noon. Carpool excursion to McHenry Dam. Begins at Prairieview Education Center. Check back for details. Prairieview Education Center, 2112 Behan Road, Crystal Lake, mccdistrict.org.
Saturday with Santa
Dec. 13, 1-3 p.m. Visit with Santa, create a holiday craft with his elves, sip hot cocoa, warm your feet by the fire. Santa habla español, tambien. $5. Pre-registration recommended. Peck Farm Park, 4038 Kaneville Road, Geneva, genevaparks.org.
Dec. 19, 6:30 -7:30 p.m. Learn past rituals of this celestial event, take a candlelight hike, warm up around a campfire. Dress for the weather. No flashlights; candles and stars will light the way. Prairieview Education Center, Crystal Lake, (815) 479-5779.
Cross-Country Candlelight Ski
Dec. 19-20, 5-9 p.m. Ski on trails lit only by candlelight; all experience levels. Must bring your own equipment. Campfire, refreshments. Fewer than 4 inches of snow, take a candlelight hike. Prairieview Education Center, Crystal Lake, (815) 479-5779.
Holiday Sleigh Rides
Dec. 26-Jan. 3, Fri.-Sat. 6-9 p.m. Horse-drawn bobsled rides, hot chocolate, cookies, holiday music. $10/$12 nonresident. Ages 14-under must be accompanied by adult. Primrose Farm, 5N726 Crane Road, St. Charles, (630) 513-6200, st-charlesparks.org.
Dec. 30, 7:30-9 p.m. Take a nighttime hike through woodlands and meadows. Ages 8 and up. Free. Call (630) 206-9581. Herrick Lake, 3S580 Naperville Road, Naperville, (630) 933-7248, dupageforest.org.
Owls of McHenry County
Jan. 9, 7-8:30 p.m. Live owls, stories/folklore, short hike in search of owls. Dress for the weather. Separate, simultaneous program for ages 6-13. Prairieview Education Center, Crystal Lake, mccdistrict.org.
It’s a Wonderful Time of the Year
Jan. 10, 3-4:30 p.m. Hike, winter games, search for winter inhabitants. Dress for weather. Ages 7 & up. Prairieview Center, Crystal Lake, mccdistrict.org.
Jan. 17- Feb. 22, 9 a.m.-4p.m. Two levels of trains traveling through the beauty of four seasons. Free with admission. Morton Arboretum, 4100 Ilinois Rt. 53, Lisle, (630) 968-0074, mortonarb.org.
Woodstock Groundhog Days
Jan. 29-Feb. 2, events daily. Festivities kick off 6 p.m. Wed. and continue throughout the week, including Woodstock Willie with his weather prediction, to mark filming of 1992 film Groundhog Day. See website for full list events/times. Historic Woodstock Square, (815) 334-2620, woodstockgroundhog.org.
Cross-Country Candlelight Ski
Jan. 30-31, 5-9 p.m. All levels. Must bring your own equipment. Campfire, refreshments. Hike if not enough snow. Coral Woods Conservation Area, 7400 Somerset, Marengo, (815) 479-5779, mccdistrict.org.
Murder Mystery Event
Feb. 13, 7-9 p.m. Special adult activity new this year. $20/$35 couple. Part of Discovery Days at Hickory Knolls Discovery Center. Registration required. (630) 513-4399, stcparks.org.
Alive at Night!
Feb. 14, Fri. 6-9 p.m. An evening of hiking and stargazing. Part of Discovery Days at Hickory Knolls Discovery Center. $5. (630) 513-4399, stcparks.org.
Outdoor Winter Fun
Feb. 15, noon-4 p.m. Dog sledding, ice sculpting, cardboard sled race, more. Discovery Days at Hickory Knolls. $5. (630) 513-4399, stcparks.org.
Cross-Country Candlelight Ski
Feb. 20-21, 5-9 p.m. All levels, BYO equipment. Rush Creek Conservation Area, 20501 McGuire Road, Harvard.
Winter Woods Walk
Feb. 28, 2:30-4 p.m. A walk in the cool, crisp air to watch for winter wonders. Dress for the weather and for walking through snow. Pleasant Valley, 13315 Pleasant Valley Road, Woodstock, (815) 479-5779, mccdistrict.org.