Recreation opportunities abound in our region! Here are a few of the best our area has to offer.
Long Grove Vintage Holidays
Weekends through Dec. 22. A relaxing way to experience the season in a small-town setting. Enjoy horse-drawn sleigh rides, carolers, Victorian buildings trimmed in lights, cobblestone walkways lined in luminaria, small shops and visits by Santa. Historic Long Grove Village, Old McHenry Road, (847) 634-0888, longgrove.org.
Happy Holiday Railway
Weekends through Dec. 23, see website for times. Take a magical train ride through the winter countryside with Santa; enjoy treats and hot chocolate, a gift for children on Santa’s “good list” and see a holiday lights display. Illinois Railway Museum, 7000 Olson Road, Union, (815) 923-4391, irm.org.
Illumination at the Arboretum
Through Jan. 5, except Mondays, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, 4:30-9:30 p.m. Multicolored lights dance to symphonic music, highlighting the beauty of trees in winter. Enjoy seasonal music, warm up by a crackling fire with a warm drink or roast marshmallows for s’mores. Morton Arboretum, 4100 Ill. Rt. 53, Lisle, (630) 968-0074, mortonarb.org.
St. Charles Indoor Farmers Market
Fridays through April, 9 a.m.-noon. Includes freshly harvested and locally grown fruits and vegetables, bread, meat, eggs, artisan cheese, garden art and more. Baker Memorial Church, 307 Cedar Ave., St. Charles, (630) 584-6680, bakermemorialchurch.org.
Woodstock Farmers Market
Dec. 7 & 21, Jan. 4 & 18, Sat. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Shop for seasonal fruits and vegetables, flowers, cheese, eggs, pet treats, bakery items, candles, olive oil, pottery and more. McHenry County Fairgrounds, 12015 Country Club Road, Woodstock, (815) 338-5164, woodstockfarmersmarket.org.
Dec. 6, 6-9:30 p.m. Festivities begin with the arrival of Santa Lucia, the lighting of the great tree, and a visit with Santa Claus, then continue with roasted chestnuts, strolling carolers and a live nativity; carriage rides available. Downtown Geneva, genevachamber.com.
Holiday House Tour
Dec. 6-7, Fri. 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat. to 5 p.m. The tour features five architecturally unique homes decked with boughs of holly and festive Christmas decor. Tickets include a traditional holiday tea at the First Congregational Church, 327 Hamilton St. Location: Downtown Geneva. Tickets/Info: Geneva Chamber of Commerce, (630) 232-6060, genevachamber.com.
Holiday Open House
Dec. 7, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Take family photos by the Christmas tree, garland-decorated fireplace and winding oak staircase. Learn about the house and life in the late 1890s from docents dressed in historical costumes. Barrington’s White House, 145 W. Main St., Barrington, (224) 512-4115, barringtonswhitehouse.com.
Oscar Swan Country Inn Holiday Brunch
Dec. 7-22, Sat.-Sun. noon. Tour the vintage mansion, meet Santa and enjoy live music with traditional ethnic fare. Enjoy German cuisine Dec. 7, Italian cuisine Dec. 14, and New Orleans cuisine on Dec. 21. Res. req. Oscar Swan Country Inn, 1800 W. State St., Geneva, (630) 232-0173, oscarswan.com.
Dec. 7, 1-7 p.m. Family fun with horse-drawn trolley rides, crafts and face painting, story time with Mrs. Claus and visits with Santa. Cantigny, 1S151 Winfield Road, Wheaton, (630) 668-5161, cantigny.org.
St. Lucia Holiday Tea
Dec. 7-8, Sat. noon & 2:30 p.m., Sun. noon. Celebrate one of Sweden’s biggest cultural traditions
with St. Lucia, an ancient mythical figure who is a bearer of light in the dark Swedish winters. Ages 4 and up. Reg. online. Cantigny, Wheaton, (630) 668-5161, cantigny.org.
Dec. 7-8, 2-6 p.m. Step back in time and enjoy the warmth of the hearth, music in the parlor, old-fashioned ginger cake and fragrant evergreens everywhere. Durant House and Sholes School, 37W700 Dean St., St. Charles, (630) 377-6424, ppfv.org.
Candlelight at the Inn
Dec. 7-8, 3-7 p.m. Experience the tradition of winter visits as practiced by families like the Garfields at their 1846 brick inn. Hospitality, food, music and a bake sale. Garfield Farm Museum, 3N016 Garfield Road, LaFox, (630) 584-8485, garfieldfarm.org.
Dec. 8 & 14, 9:30-11 a.m. or 1-2:30 p.m. Make your own cookies to enjoy and explore all the different plants and plant parts needed to make this traditional winter treat. Ages 4-10. Reg. online. Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe, (847) 835-5440, chicagobotanic.org.
Santa’s Wonderland Extravaganza
Dec. 8, 1-3 p.m. A magical afternoon with games, activities, entertainment and a visit from Santa. Reg. online. Grand Oaks, 1401 W. Ill. Rt. 176, Crystal Lake, (815) 459-0680, crystallakeparks.org.
Jingle Bell Rock
Dec. 10, 6 p.m. Children 1-5 years old enjoy musical activities, decorating trees, making cookies, playing in the snow and more. Cantigny, Wheaton, (630) 668-5161, cantigny.org.
Dec. 12, 5 p.m. Children 5-12 learn fascinating tricks to amaze friends and family, using cards, ropes, coins, mind-reading and more. Materials provided; participants take home a magic kit. Reg. online. Rotary Building, Veteran Acres Park, 431 Walkup Ave., Crystal Lake, (815) 459-0680, crystallakeparks.org.
Oscar Swan Country Colonial Dinner
Dec. 12, 7 p.m. Enjoy live muisic and home-cooked fare at a beautiful vintage mansion. Courses include beef brisket, fingerling potatoes, garden winter veggies, scones and pecan pie. Res. req. Oscar Swan Country Inn, 1800 W. State St., Geneva, (630) 232-0173, oscarswan.com.
Holiday Brunch Party
Dec. 13, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Seniors enjoy brunch along with entertainment by Jeorge Holmes. Bring a $5 wrapped gift if you wish to participate in a gift exchange. Reg. online. Grand Oaks, Crystal Lake, (815) 459-0680, crystallakeparks.org.
Movie Posters & Scavenger Hunt
Dec. 14, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. View an extensive collection of movie posters for current and upcoming films; then test your powers of observation by completing a movie poster scavenger hunt to enter a prize drawing. Main Branch, Gail Borden Library, 270 N. Grove, Elgin, (847) 742-2411, gailborden.info.
Holiday Baking & Cooking
Dec. 14, 10 a.m.-noon. Kids 5-11 learn basic cooking and baking skills, creating an appetizer, main course and a layered holiday dessert. Bring an apron and water. Reg. online. Woodscreek Activity Building, 850 Willow Tree Dr., Crystal Lake, (815) 459-0680, crystallakeparks.org.
Dec. 14, 5-7:30 p.m. Stroll under the stars through a candlelit trail; enjoy hot chocolate and s’mores around a campfire while listening to holiday songs. Veteran Acres, Crystal Lake, (815) 459-0680, crystallakparks.org
LEGO Train Show
Dec. 14-15, Sat. 9 a.m.-8 p.m., Sun. to 4 p.m. This holiday tradition is produced by the Northern Illinois LEGO Train Club and is its largest show. Visitors encouraged to bring a new, unwrapped toy for the Marines’ Toys for Tots. Cantigny, Wheaton, (630) 668-5161, cantigny.org.
Festival of Lights
Dec. 15, 2-3 p.m. Families learn about Hanukkah through stories, music, food and the dreidel game. Main Branch, Gail Borden Library, Elgin, (847) 742-2411, gailborden.info.
Festival of Arts & Crafts
Dec. 15-16, Sat. 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Featuring quality, handcrafted treasures by 200 artists from six states, including indoor and outdoor furniture, painted windows, purses, stained glass, hand-poured soap, woven baskets and home furnishings. Pheasant Run Resort, 4051 E. Main St., St. Charles, (847) 301-8543, pheasantrun.com.
Flipping with Frosty
Dec. 17, 9:30 a.m.-noon. Children 18 months to 6 years old and an adult play holiday games, have a snowfall fight and navigate a winter wonderland obstacle course. Reg. online. Eola Community Center, 555 S. Eola Road, Aurora, (630) 851-8990, foxvalleyparkdistrict.org.
Books & Cooks: Cocoa
Dec. 17, 1-2 p.m. Kids ages 3-5 and a caregiver enjoy stories, songs, games and a cooking activity. ITW Kitchen, Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe, (847) 835-5440, chicagobotanic.org.
Gingerbread House Workshop
Dec. 19-20, Fri. 8 a.m.-8 p.m., Sat. 11 a.m.-noon. Decorate a gingerbread house with “Frozen”-inspired characters; supplies provided. Reg. online. Main Branch, Gail Borden Library, Elgin, (847) 742-2411, gailborden.info.
Holiday Movie Marathon
Dec. 23, noon-8 p.m. Enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and your favorite holiday classics. Main Branch, Gail Borden Library, Elgin, (847) 742-2411, gailborden.info.
Oscar Swan Country Inn Brunch
Dec. 25 & Jan. 1, noon. Enjoy live muisic and home-cooked fare at a beautiful vintage mansion. Courses include beef brisket, fingerling potatoes, garden winter veggies, scones and pecan pie. Res. req. Oscar Swan Country Inn, 1800 W. State St., Geneva, (630) 232-0173, oscarswan.com.
Happy Noon Year Party
Dec. 30, 11 a.m.-noon. Preschoolers and their caregivers ring in the new year with stories, games, treats and dancing. Reg. online. Rakow Branch, Gail Borden Library, 2751 W. Bowes Road, Elgin, (847) 531-7271, gailborden.info. Also 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at Gail Borden Library Main Branch, Elgin, (847) 742-2411, gailborden.info.
Kids’ Movie Day Outing
Jan. 2, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Children ages 5-13 enjoy a movie, popcorn and snacks in a comfy recliner while watching a newly released movie at the Cinema 12 in Carpentersville. Bring a lunch and drink, and dress for the weather to play outside afterwards; crafts and games round out the day. Reg. online. Transportation from Woodscreek Elementary School, 1100 Alexandra Blvd., Crystal Lake, (815) 459-0680, crystallakeparks.org.
Teddy Bear Slumber Party
Jan. 11, 1-2:30 p.m. Hop into your PJs, grab your favorite stuffed animal and enjoy stories, a craft and a snack. Ages 3-6. Reg. online. Rakow Branch, Gail Borden Library, Elgin, (847) 531-7271, gailborden.info.
Loco for Cocoa
Jan. 12 & 25, 9:30-11 a.m. or 1-2:30 p.m. How does chocolate go from a bitter bean to delicious dessert? Kids ages 4-10 investigate the raw ingredients of chocolate, taste test different types of chocolate and make treats by dipping fruits into chocolate. ITW Kitchen, Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe, (847) 835-5440, chicagobotanic.org.
Lake Geneva Winterfest
Jan. 29-Feb. 2. During the two-week festival, watch sculptors 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 show, helicopter rides, tours of Maxwell Mansion, a chili cook-off and the Cocoa Crawl in downtown Lake Geneva. Lake Geneva, visitlakegeneva.com/winterfest.
Snowbird Softball Tourney
Feb. 2, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Get a team together and compete in a single-elimination tournament with consolation division; all teams guaranteed a minimum of two games. Reg. online. Lippold Park, 851 Ill. Rt. 176, Crystal Lake, (815) 459-0608, crystallakeparks.org.
Feb. 2, noon-4 p.m. Pick up a map at the Visitors Center, then visit participating merchants to sample cocoa-inspired treats, such as chocolate mousse cups, chocolate balsamic fudge cookies, chocolate-covered pretzels, brownies and hot chocolate, then return to the center to enter a drawing to win a prize. Historic Long Grove Village, (847) 634-0888, longgrove.org.
Chili Open Golf Classic
Feb. 8, 8 a.m. The tradition continues as golfers ages 18 and up play a 9-hole, par-32 course on the frozen lake. All foursomes receive a gift and a chance to win in the longest putt raffle. Reg. online. Main Beach, 300 Lakeshore Dr., Crystal Lake, (815) 459-0608, crystallakeparks.org.
Family Valentine Tea
Feb. 8, 10 a.m. Celebrate Valentine’s Day with stories, songs and a craft. For children 3-6 and their families. Main Branch, Gail Borden Public Library, Elgin, (847) 742-2411, gailborden.info.
Sweetheart Tea: Victorian Valentines
Feb. 8, noon-1:30 p.m. Enjoy a luncheon tea and chocolates from around the world in an historical home’s Victorian parlors. Ages 4 and up. Reg. online. Colonel Palmer House, 660 E. Terra Cotta Ave., Crystal Lake, (815) 477-5873, crystallakeparks.org.
Those Were the Days
Feb. 23, 2 p.m. Experience the Golden Age of Radio, as Radio Players West creates live radio shows based on original scripts from the 1930s to the 1950s, with original music and a Foley artist creating sound effects. Main Branch, Gail Borden Public Library, Elgin, (847) 742-2411, gailborden.info.