Grab your coat and keys! From local festivals to the great outdoors, there’s no shortage of things to do in our region that’ll help curb cabin fever.
Bone-chilling winds and ice crystals suspended in the air are common during a Chicagoland winter. It’s enough to make you want to hide indoors where it’s warm and cozy. But you can’t stay in your home for the entire season.
The truth is there are many ways to break that cabin fever and find a little fun outside the house this season. How about bundling up and braving the cold or cozying up in a new indoor space? Our region has excitement that’s sure to send that cabin fever running for the hills.
Expand Your Mind
Museums abound in our region, and they provide a thought-provoking journey into our past, our culture and our environment. They also offer something fun for kids and grownups alike.
At Northern Illinois University’s art museum in DeKalb, a new exhibit features stories of Americans who lived in the southeast Asian nation of Burma during the last half of the 20th century. This exhibit, created with help from the Center for Burma Studies, tells fascinating stories about a moment in world history.
You might also head to the Elgin Public Museum, which is a favorite among children for its exhibits on science and natural history. Collections of endangered birds, Illinois fossils and Fox River artifacts delight children and adults as they make new discoveries.
Then, take a trip to Libertyville and learn all about dinosaurs and the first people to inhabit Lake County at the Bess Bower Dunn Museum of Lake County. The museum’s huge, feathery Dryptosaurus makes a terrific photo opportunity.
Take In Local Entertainment
For Broadway-caliber theater, the Paramount Theatre in Aurora presents “School of Rock,” a ballad to rock ‘n’ roll music that’s inspired by the Jack Black film. It runs April 12 through June 4.
Visit Arcada Theatre in St. Charles and travel back in time – not just with the Spanish Colonial architecture and 1920s-vintage chandeliers but with the silent films presented on screen and the rock stars of yesteryear who visit the stage nearly every weekend.
Catch a new movie release at Classic Cinemas in Woodstock, where a fully restored historic movie theater features eight screens, free popcorn refills and self-serve ICEEs.
Explore the Great Outdoors
A brisk stroll in the cold might be just what you need to hit refresh.
The Chicago Athenaeum International Sculpture Park in Schaumburg is located on 20 acres of meadow and forest where the trails reveal numerous surprises. Hidden within the landscape are sculptures both modern and classical, all of them collected nearly 20 years ago from American and international artists.
Grab your four-legged friend and head out to dog-friendly trails at Cuba Marsh Forest Preserve in Deer Park, where 781 acres of marsh, woodland and grassland are perfect for activities like hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
For scenic urban sights along the Fox River, visit the Batavia Riverwalk, where a winding path along the waterway puts you up close with a dam, a wildflower sanctuary, historic buildings and the Fox River Bike Trail.
Hunt for Antiques
There’s no telling what you might find at an antique store.
At Cantlon’s Collectibles in St. Charles, you’ll find no shortage of quality antiques collected from around the world. For more than 25 years, the store’s owners have been filling up the family barn with all sorts of fascinating finds such as lamps, folk art, enamelware, farm-related primitives, German miniatures and toys. The barn has been featured in multiple magazines and television shows.
Just off Illinois Routes 176 and 23 in Marengo lies Bulldog Antiques. Located in a cozy little 1919 bungalow, the neatly organized store specializes in eclectic and unique, mid-century or earlier antiques with an emphasis on advertising, farm, furniture, home, industrial and high-quality small items.
Just up the road, Roscoe Woodstock Antique Mall in Woodstock has a surprisingly vast selection of merchandise that’s always changing. This 35,000-square-foot antique mall features more than 70 dealers who bring everything from slot machines, jukeboxes, pinball and gumball machines to classic toys, vintage clothing, vinyl records, collectibles and many more incredible finds.
Indulge at Indoor Farmers Markets
While snowfall and chilly temperatures linger outside, our region’s farmers and producers head inside with a bounty of fresh, locally raised and made products.
Voted the No. 1 farmers market in Illinois in 2021 and 2022, the Farmers Market+ At The Dole runs inside the historic Dole Mansion in Crystal Lake every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through April 23. It then heads outside every Sunday from May 28 through October 29. Visitors can enjoy a wide range of farmers, vendors and plenty of live music, food trucks, drinks and complimentary children’s entertainment and activities. A longtime favorite that ranks No. 2 in Illinois, the producer-only Woodstock Farmers Market continues indoors at the McHenry County Fairgrounds every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through April. After that, it heads back to the Historic Woodstock Square. Familiar farmers, food producers and artisans offer a large selection of delicacies like freshly baked pies, fruit and produce, meats, and treats like baklava.
A farmers market in Huntley returns on the second Saturday of the month at First Congregational Church, located downtown.
“We have a wide variety of homegrown and homemade items, crafts and convenient home-based businesses such as Tastefully Simple and Norwex Cleaning Products,” says Barb Read, management assistant and special events manager for the Village of Huntley, which runs the market.
Attend a Local Gathering
Local festivals bring people together and create long-lasting memories for everyone. A little cold never stops us Midwesterners from gathering.
In Geneva, coffee lovers can join the fifth Geneva Coffee Crawl on April 22, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Explore downtown Geneva and treat your taste buds with coffee-inspired beverages from more than 15 local coffee shops.
Up north, the McHenry County Craft Beverage Trail features nine craft breweries and two distilleries located within the county. Download the Naturally McHenry County app to join challenges and win prizes.
Meanwhile, the Fox Valley Park District’s annual tradition of turning maple sap into maple syrup continues at Maple Fest on March 18 and 19 at Red Oak Nature Center in North Aurora. Visitors can learn how maple syrup was made through history and taste some of the delicious product – harvested, of course, on-site.
“There is a tasting at the end of each tour, along with hands-on activities in which guests can participate,” says Tim Wagner, PR and content strategist for the Fox Valley Park District, which operates the nature center. “For those who are more adventurous, maple syrup flights featuring different flavors can be purchased.”
Enjoy a Delicious Meal
Tired of eating the same old food while you’re hibernating at home? Our region is full of inventive restaurants that will introduce you to something new and tasty.
If authentic Japanese cuisine in a sleek and elegant atmosphere is what you seek, look no farther than Shakou, in Barrington. Located on Main Street, this two-story restaurant offers on-the-go, dine-in and party platter menus with classic Asian dishes such as miso soup, salted edamame, shrimp tempura and shrimp fried rice in an elevated environment.
Inspired by Swedish chemist, engineer, inventor and philanthropist Alfred Nobel, downtown Geneva’s Nobel House features more than 30 beers on tap including local and nationally recognized microbrews. The menu boasts a selection of savory sustenance such as fresh oysters, Atlantic salmon, Maine lobsters, Gulf shrimp and smoked black Angus brisket.
The family-run Bimbo’s Italian in McHenry has been part of the community for more than 60 years and its owners still offer an authentic taste of Italy. They serve up everything from calamari and Italian sausage to meatball Bolognese, lobster ravioli and chicken piccata.
Find Your New Favorite Read
Broaden your horizons and get lost in a new story – at a cozy nook, no less – by shopping at one of our region’s local bookstores.
At Harvey’s Tales in Geneva, visitors are embraced by a welcoming environment that fosters exploration, knowledge and relaxation. The independent bookshop carries new books and has plenty of reasons to hang out, with a giant wall Scrabble game, a coffee bar, free Wi-Fi and a community room for meetings. The bookstore offers a book club, a teacher discount, a birthday club for children ages 1 to 6 and a coffee club.
Journey out to Woodstock’s Square to find Read Between the Lynes, where there’s a wide selection of books and audiobooks plus a busy events calendar where the public can meet authors of newly released books. The store hosts children’s storytime on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. under a gigantic tree in the children’s section.
In DeKalb, Robin’s Nest Book Shoppe is a quaint bookstore with a carefully curated collection of new releases and classics in addition to board games, puzzles and toys. Coloring and drawing books, storage bags, candles and novelty mugs appeal to book lovers of all types.
No matter how you choose to kick cabin fever, you’ll have plenty of options throughout our region. From devouring authentic cuisine to collecting unique antiques, it’s not a question of what to do, but what to do next.