As I mentioned in the first post in this series, not everyone can just pick up and spend eleven days in Spain. However, one of our most memorable days in Spain was when Matt and Cassandra shared their favorite places and experiences with us. It gave me the chance to look at our hometown with different glasses. What would I put on such a list if I had to share our hometown with guests?
Coffee and a pastry at Arabica Cafe. Although Diane and Chef Brian are currently trying to sell the cafe so that they can start chapter two of their retirement plan, it is still one of my all time favorite spots. I did almost all of my interviews for my book The Many Faces of Elgin there. The coffee is good and the pastries are amazing (or go later in the day for lunch- wowza).
Check out the dam at Kimball Street. It is one of my all-time favorite spots in Elgin. If it’s freezing cold out, you might spot an eagle. If it’s summer, you’ll probably see a line of people fishing. Either way, it’s a very peaceful and beautiful spot to see the Fox River. Stroll down a bit and check out Walton Island.
Enjoy a bike ride, run or walk on the Fox River Trail. You can park at the Gail Borden Library in downtown and head north toward Algonquin or head south toward Aurora.
Enjoy a martini at The Martini Room. Each month the lounge hosts the art of a local artist. Although they do not sell food, their cocktails are outstanding.
Get a bag of popcorn at Mama Lee’s to snack on while checking out the shops around downtown. Meraki Market features the work of local artisans. Elgin Knit Works is a beautiful yarn shop. Steep ‘n Clay is a tea and pottery shop. There are a variety of antique shops scattered around downtown as well.
Check out the public art throughout town. Elgin has amazing murals and sculptures. Most of it is accessible on foot from downtown.
Get a German pretzel roll at Herb’s Bakery. These are the real deal and they sell out very fast. Call ahead and order a half-dozen…or go crazy and order a dozen. You won’t regret it.
Have an iconic meal at Al’s Cafe (lunch or dinner- you won’t be disappointed).
Elgin has a large hispanic population and as a result some excellent options for authentic food. One of our favorites is Taqueria Chapala on the far east side.
Elgin Symphony Orchestra at the Hemmens Center. We are crazy lucky to have three amazing orchestras in Illinois. If you want to skip the major hassle of traveling downtown to see the CSO, you won’t be disappointed with free parking, ample dining options within walking distance and world class talent at the ESO.
Discover the amazing architecture throughout Elgin. Whether it is a walking tour of the famous painted ladies and other historical homes or the various churches and temples, Elgin has it all.
Bluff City Cemetery is a stunningly beautiful historic cemetery on the far east side of town. Wander the grounds and then go for a hike in Bluff Spring Fen, which is accessed at the far end of the cemetery.
What would be on your Staycation Itinerary if I were to visit your area?