Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Barrington, IL

  • Published 2023/03/26

The Chicago suburb of Barrington is in both Lake and Cook counties in Illinois.

It is known for its country-suburban atmosphere and abundance of wetlands, forest preserves, parks, and horse trails.

Barrington has a dense suburban vibe.

The area is known for numerous museums, cafes, restaurants, green spaces, and nature reserves.

Here are the best things to do in Barrington, Illinois:

Explore the Crabtree Nature Center

Nature scene at Crabtree Nature Center

Rajesh Vijayakumar /

The Crabtree Nature Center on Stover Rd is a fantastic wildlife facility with miles of walking trails and incredible wildlife.

The beautiful trails are not paved but provide access to an extensive wilderness area.

The Forest Preserve District purchased the Crabtree property in the mid-1960s.

Since then, it has been gradually restored by staff and volunteers to its original state of natural beauty.

Crabtree Nature Center is home to numerous unique plant and animal species and habitats.

This 1,182 acres of forest, swamp, and prairie serve as a rest area for migrating birds.

Fall trees at Crabtree Nature Center

Rajesh Vijayakumar /

At least 89 species of birds and mammals breed in these areas.

You’ll have fun watching the various bird species gather in the feeding stations.

The Crabtree Nature Center also hosts several programs centered around crafts, wildlife, and more.

The Crabtree Nature Center is a great place to unwind while gaining valuable insight into the natural world.

Visitors are encouraged to explore the natural habitats of local animals and plants on their own by venturing out onto the numerous miles of pathways.

Visit the Place de la Musique

Place de la Musique at the Sanfilippo Theater houses one of the world’s largest collections of antique musical instruments.

The Place de la Musique has an impressive assortment of vintage musical equipment, including phonographs, chandeliers, art glass, and even a pipe organ.

Collectors prize these items throughout the globe.

Public access to this property is available through a paid tour (by appointment) and special events like the annual Wurlitzer Christmas Performance.

It’s home to the world’s most outstanding collection of musical instruments and one of the most thought-provoking museums in the area.

This is a must-see museum in Barrington, especially if you’re passionate about art or history.

Enjoy the Exhibits at Barrington History Museum

The Barrington History Museum, officially the Barrington Area Historical Society, was created in 1968 by community members committed to preserving Barrington’s culture and history.

The museum collects, preserves, documents, and displays relevant local history while offering unique educational opportunities for people of all ages.

Barrington History Museum is in a renovated 1929 blacksmith shop on West Main Street.

It is the primary venue for local exhibits.

In addition to two restored folk Victorian cottages stuffed with relics, the site has a working blacksmith shop open seasonally.

The museum is in two renovated vernacular Victorian buildings on Barrington’s Main Street.

The Wichman Blacksmith Shop was moved in 1991 from its original location on Station Street in downtown Barrington to the grounds of the Barrington History Museum, just behind the Donlea-Kincaid Mansion.

Stroll around the Barrington Historic District

Sidewalk at Barrington Historic District

Janteps, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Barrington Historic District spans 92 acres.

Some of the structures date back to the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Octagon House, also known as the Hawley House, was constructed in the 1860s and is now a National Historic Landmark and popular tourist destination.

The 2001 Heritage Overlay District was established to preserve the Village’s history and its many notable buildings and areas for their historical, architectural, or cultural significance.

Explore the district and pass row after row of historic buildings like Barrington’s White House, Octagon House, and The Catlow Theater.

Enjoy a Picnic at Langendorf Park

Langendorf Park is an urban green space featuring a gym and other recreational facilities.

Barrington Park District’s primary amenities are at Langendorf Park.

There is always something fun to do in the park.

It features a five-hole, par-3 golf learning center and three playgrounds perfect for kids of all ages.

You can also have a nice picnic in one of the many pavilions at the park.

In addition, the Fitness and Recreation Center also houses administrative offices, a 4,500-square-foot Fitness Center, a gymnasium with a walking track, meeting community rooms, and two preschool rooms.

Another highlight of Langendorf Park is the Freddie Herriman Pederson splash pad.

The park is located at Lions Dr, Barrington, Illinois.

Spot Birds at Baker’s Lake Nature Preserve

Baker’s Lake Nature Preserve is a 219-acre park in the Barrington area.

It can be reached from State Route 14 just south of Lake Cook Road.

Baker’s Lake Nature Preserve offers excellent opportunities for birdwatching, hiking trails, and other water activities.

The 165-acre lake and adjacent island are the park’s main draw.

The island once had old oak trees but now serves as artificial nesting sites for colonial waders.

In 1984, Illinois designated Baker’s Lake as a nature preserve in recognition of the island’s significance as a colonial nesting ground.

Nesting platforms were built by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County and other organizations.

Today, many species of colonial wading birds use these platforms.

More than two hundred nesting pairs of great blue herons, great egrets, and double-crested cormorants were attracted to these artificial structures in 1999.

Visit the preserve on E Dundee Road in Barrington to take advantage of everything nature offers.

See the Latest Movies at the Catlow Theatre

Exterior of Catlow Theatre

I, G LeTourneau, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located in the center of Barrington Village, the Catlow Theater has entertained locals and visitors since 1927.

Alfonso Lannelli, a renowned sculptor and designer from the Prairie School, used the Tudor revival style for the interior.

The Catlow Theater has a single screen and shows first-run movies.

Since then, the theater has upgraded some equipment, including its digital projection and sound quality.

In addition, the Catlow Theater was the first movie theater to include a restaurant.

The theater has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Also nearby is Boloney’s Sandwich Shop, a local favorite known for its hearty servings and cozy atmosphere.

Take a Hike around Cuba Marsh Forest Preserve

Cuba Marsh Forest Preserve is a 781-acre park that welcomes humans and their pets for a day of exercise, picnics, and animal observation.

The preserve is home to a beautiful combination of wetland, forest, and grassland.

The five-kilometer out-and-back trail in the Cuba Marsh Forest Preserve is easy.

The path has some mild ups and downs, but the total elevation increase is negligible.

You can go hiking, biking, or cross-country skiing along the three-mile portion of this trail.

It travels via grassy, undulating slopes with great views of the nearby marsh and woods.

The paths here are kid-friendly because they are broad and can accommodate strollers.

The park has forested and open sections, making it a popular area for spotting local wildlife.

It’s also a great place to go for a peaceful walk outdoors.

The preserve is located at W Cuba Rd, Deer Park, Illinois.

Ride a Bike at Citizens Park

Barrington is home to the 45-acre Citizens Park, accessible through Northwest Highway and Lake Zurich Road.

The park occupies the grounds of the former Diamond Tea Company.

Citizens Park has been famous to visitors for its scenic trails, waterfall, and other recreational amenities since its dedication in 2007.

Through cooperative efforts of the Barrington Park District and the Lake County Forest Preserve have linked their properties with a lovely bike/running path that winds through Cuba Marsh and onto Citizens Park.

The Jewel Tea Pavilion, located within the park, is a beautiful venue for any celebration, including wedding ceremonies, receptions, and even bridal and baby showers.

This 1,900-square-foot space features a catering kitchen and enough seating for 110 people to hold various events.

In addition, you can watch a concert or other stage event at the Robert Soule Amphitheater.

With its central heating and air conditioning, the Lodge at Citizens Park is suitable for hosting modest events, such as birthday parties, business meetings, and other celebrations.

Play Golf at Makray Memorial Golf Club

The grounds of Makray Memorial Golf Club

Dan Perry, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Makray Memorial Golf Club, originally Thunderbird Country Club, is a private club that has welcomed members and non-members since 1962.

The course’s picturesque 18-hole championship layout will test even the most seasoned golfers.

However, any golfer looking for a relaxing day on the green will be blown away by the lovely scenery.

In 2002, the course underwent a significant makeover to celebrate its first 40 years of providing excellent golf.

It’s now more fun to play and more challenging, thanks to the upgrades.

The Makray Golf Course’s expansive clubhouse is home to a restaurant known as Terrace Oak Grille serves up delicious American fare.

In addition, a dining hall that can accommodate up to 250 guests is available for rent.

Makray’s is a beautiful venue for organizing anything from a quiet day in the course to a lavish party in their expansive clubhouse.

They are located at S Northwest Hwy, Barrington, Illinois.

Practice Your Golfing Skills at Barrington Hills Country Club

In 1921, passionate golfers got together to create the Barrington Hills Country Club.

Tom Doak recently refurbished the classic golf course built by Golden Age architect George O’Neil.

Barrington Hills Country Club was established by a group of “gentlemen farmers” 40 miles outside of Chicago to create a community that valued close relationships amongst its members.

This rolling par 71 gem offers players of all skill levels six tees and some of the area’s quickest greens.

In addition to hosting various summer and wintertime events, the club is home to state-of-the-art clay tennis courts, swimming pools, platform tennis, and skeet shooting.

Several dining areas are available to members and their guests within the club.

They are located at W County Line Rd, Barrington, Illinois.

Shoot Hoops at Braemar Park

Braemar Park spans a modest 3.6 acres.

It’s perfect for a stroll, a quick run, relaxation, or rest after work.

It’s a modest park, but there’s plenty of room to run around and plenty of fun things for the kids to do there.

Braemar Park is a great place to take the kids or meet up with friends in Barrington.

There are baseball fields, soccer fields, and a volleyball court at the park.

You can also shoot hoops with your friends on the basketball court.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Go Back in Time at Kline Creek Farm

People walking along Kline Creek Farm

Ken Schulze /

Go back to the 1800s with a visit to Kline Creek Farm.

Kline Creek Farm is located in West Chicago’s Timber Ridge Forest Preserve.

It is a living history farm recreating a traditional DuPage County traditional farm during the 1890s.

Tourists can relive Illinois’ agricultural boom at the turn of the nineteenth century.

Sheep at Kline Creek Farm

Ken Schulze /

You will see volunteers recreating everyday farm tasks such as sheep shearing, canning, beekeeping, and baking.

You will also see domestic animals, such as cattle, chickens, horses, and sheep, living in the farm’s barns and pastures.

Bring your pals along for a once-in-a-lifetime adventure on the farm.

Kline Creek Farm is located on County Farm Road in West Chicago, Illinois, 32 minutes from Barrington.

Interior of a barn at Kline Creek Farm

Mark Baldwin /

Explore the Beach at Paulus Park

Paulus Park, in the southwest corner of Lake County, is a large park complex with a beach and other outdoor recreation facilities.

This park is a renowned tourist destination and a preferred meeting place for locals.

The many amenities offered by Paulus Park are a sandy beach, picnic area, playgrounds, sporting fields, a splash park, and a summer concert stage.

The playground equipment and open space at Paulus Park are ideal for young explorers.

Bring the kids for a day of beach fun at Paulus Park.

The beach is divided into a swimming area and off-limits to swimmers.

The beach, accessible for a fee, was tidy, safe, and equipped with an umbrella and two inflatables for children.

Events like the Lake Zurich Area Triathlon and the annual Fourth of July fireworks extravaganza are staples of the waterfront area.

Visitors to the park in the winter can enjoy sledding and ice skating.

However, the sledding hill is closed once the sun goes down due to a lack of lighting.

This park is in Lake Zurich, Illinois, eight minutes from Barrington.

Spot the Birds at Deer Grove Forest Preserve

The waters of Deer Grove Forest Preserve

WhiteBlush /

Deer Grove Forest Preserve is a 2,000-acre reserve with miles of trails perfect for hiking, mountain biking, and cross-country skiing.

Acres of woodland, wooded ravines, wetlands, and prairie provide an unrivaled opportunity to connect with nature.

The Illinois Nature Preserves Commission has designated two locations in Deer Grove Forest Preserve as among the state’s best-quality natural areas.

If you want a stress-free way to get acquainted with Deer Grove, take the paved Red Paved Loop trail, which is 2.8 miles long.

The trailhead is in the parking lot on the north side of Dundee Road, around 0.5 miles west of Hicks Road.

Nature scene at Deer Grove Forest Preserve

WhiteBlush /

Many small wetland areas spread out around the preserve provide a home to a wide variety of wildlife, including several endangered species of turtles, frogs, and salamanders.

Migrating birds benefit from the woodland’s shelter and food supply in the spring.

Likewise, migratory birds find refuge and nourishment in the spring forest.

You can hear veeries and hooded warblers in the dense undergrowth while you can listen to savannah sparrows in the forest’s periphery.

Visit the Deer Grove Forest Preserve on W Dundee Rd., Palatine, Illinois, six minutes from Barrington.

Trail at Deer Grove Forest Preserve

Rajesh Vijayakumar /

Final Thoughts

Barrington’s long and storied past begins with the indigenous Prairie Potawatomi and Mascoutin peoples of North America.

Its historic district, designated in 2001, is a must-see and a superb example of how old structures can and should be preserved.

Barrington also boasts many natural attractions like lakes, nature preserves, and open green spaces.

Enjoy the best things to do in Barrington, Illinois.

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