Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in DeKalb County, IL

  • Published 2023/03/24

Nestled in the heart of Northern Illinois, DeKalb County is a hidden gem that offers something for everyone.

Outdoor enthusiasts can explore over 25 miles of hiking and biking trails or spend a day fishing on one of many lakes in this county.

Those who want to relax in the country can picnic in one of the county’s many parks or stroll through its charming towns and villages.

History buffs can stroll through the beautiful Victorian-style courthouse square in downtown Sycamore or tour the Egyptian Theatre, a restored 1920s movie palace.

If you’re looking for a fun weekend getaway or a quiet place to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, DeKalb County is the perfect place to relax and recharge.

Enjoy the best things to do in DeKalb County, Illinois!

Catch an Electrifying Performance at the Egyptian Theatre

Exterior of the Egyptian Theatre

Nicola Patterson /

The historic Egyptian Theatre is one of the most beautiful places to visit in DeKalb.

This lovely old theater opened its doors in 1929 and has delighted audiences ever since.

Whether you’re a live theater, music, or film fan, you will find something to enjoy at the Egyptian.

The theater’s Main Stage hosts a variety of stunning performances throughout the year, from classic plays to contemporary musicals.

Details of the Egyptian Theatre

Eddie J. Rodriquez /

The acoustics are excellent, and the theater has no bad seats.

If you’re looking for a more intimate experience, check out the events on their website, and you will find something that will surely interest you.

You can also take a tour of the theater and see its architectural designs, learn its history, and tackle the current works of the theater!

The Egyptian Theatre is a cherished part of DeKalb’s history and a visitor must-see!

Marquee of the Egyptian Theatre

Eddie J. Rodriquez /

Ride a Majestic Horse at Runaway Ranch

There’s nothing quite like the experience of riding a horse.

Feel the wind in your hair, the power beneath you, and the sense of freedom.

It’s no wonder that horseback riding is one of the most popular activities to do in Illinois.

At Runaway Ranch in Sycamore, you can enjoy all the thrills of horseback riding in a safe and scenic setting.

This ranch offers various horseback riding experiences, from gentle trail rides to challenging cross-country courses.

They also offer a variety of lessons for riders of all levels.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced rider, they can help you learn more about this exciting sport.

Visit Runaway Ranch and enjoy an experience you’ll never forget!

Check Out the Exhibits at Northern Illinois University Art Museum

Northern Illinois University Art Museum is a great place to view exhibits and appreciate art.

The museum routinely collaborates with many other art museums and galleries at various colleges, history centers and archives in the area, and commercial galleries.

They also collaborate closely with NIU’s School of Art and Design, other academic departments, and institution resource centers.

The Northern Illinois University Art Museum has several galleries that feature both temporary and permanent collections.

Some collections feature art, including paintings, sculptures, and pottery.

You can also check out special exhibitions which are hosted throughout the year.

These exhibitions allow visitors to see rare or unusual pieces of art.

Spend Quality Time with Your Family at Leon D. Larson Memorial Park

Spending time with family is essential, but finding activities for everyone to enjoy can be challenging.

If you’re looking for a fun day for the whole family, head to Leon D. Larson Memorial Park in Sycamore.

This park is the perfect spot to lay a blanket, prepare food, and enjoy time with your family.

The park offers plenty of activities for kids of all ages, from playgrounds to fishing and hiking.

If you’re looking for relaxation, the park has a beautiful pond where you can sit back and enjoy the scenery.

If you want to spend some time outdoors being active or just relaxing, Leon D. Larson Memorial Park is the ideal spot.

Catch Fish at Russell Woods Forest Preserve

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of reeling in a big fish.

At Russell Woods Forest Preserve, plenty of fish can be caught.

Plenty of places to cast your line, with miles of Kishwaukee River’s shoreline to explore.

This 126-acre land preserve is home to freshwater fish, including bass, catfish, and crappie.

You can also relax as you listen to the sound of a flowing river and nature in the preserve while you wait for your catch.

Prepare your rods and start reeling in the Russell Woods Forest Preserve waters.

Whether an experienced angler or a complete novice, you will enjoy a day on the water at Russell Woods Forest Preserve.

Smell the Stunning Flowers at Blumen Gardens

Nestled in the heart of Sycamore, Blumen Gardens is a hidden gem you must visit.

Upon entering the gardens, you will immediately be enveloped in the tranquility of the space.

Birdsong fills the air, and colorful flowers and foliage abound.

The gardens are open year-round, and each season brings new delights.

In spring, the bulbs bloom, providing a cheerful splash of color after the long winter months.

Summer is a riot of color as annuals and perennials bloom.

Fall brings a different beauty as the trees’ leaves change color.

Even in winter, there is something to enjoy, as evergreens provide a welcoming touch of green amidst the barrenness of the season.

Appreciate the beauty of nature and enjoy the serenity of Blumen Gardens as you vacation in Illinois!

Hit the Links at Indian Oaks Country Club

Indian Oaks Country Club in Shabbona is the perfect place to enjoy a game of golf with your family.

This golf course has served its visitors for over 50 years, offering an enjoyable place to play golf.

Indian Oaks Golf Club has nine holes of Championship golf that can be turned into 18 by changing up the tee configurations.

This makes for a more challenging round that is still fun.

Also, they have a short game practice facility that is like no other and should be noticed!

This place has a driving range and practice putting greens available for those who want to improve their skills before playing a game.

While you’re here, you can take advantage of the club’s other amenities, like its newly renovated clubhouse and bar and grill.

Indian Oaks is a great way to spend a day with your family, and you should create lasting memories on the course.

Explore Nature at Sycamore Forest Preserve

The Sycamore Forest Preserve is a nature lover’s dream come true.

With over 60 acres of forest, meadows, wetlands, and prairies, the Sycamore Forest Preserve has something for everyone.

Visitors can enjoy hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing on the many trails throughout the preserve.

There are also numerous picnic areas where you can spend time with your family, especially with your children.

The Sycamore Forest Preserve is an ideal destination for those who appreciate nature’s beauty and history’s importance.

Camp Out at Shabbona Lake State Park Campground

The grounds of Shabbona Lake State Park Campground

Yinan Chen, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re looking for a great camping spot in Illinois, check out Shabbona Lake State Park Campground in Shabbona Township.

Shabbona Lake State Park Campground is a beautiful place to camp and relax.

This picturesque location, perfect for anyone seeking some time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, boasts a mix of grassy meadows, woods, and a native fen.

The area has many things to do, including hiking, fishing, swimming, and bird watching.

Likewise, the campground is well-equipped with all the amenities you need for a comfortable stay, including bathrooms, showers, and a dump station.

You can also enjoy telling stories to your family as the wood is getting burned by the fire in the pits here.

Whether you’re looking for a quick getaway or a more extended vacation, Shabbona Lake State Park Campground is worth a visit.

See a Movie at Classic Cinemas Cinema 7

Spend quality time with your family by taking them to a movie at Classic Cinemas Cinema 7 Theatre in Sandwich!

Today, the Cinema 7 Theatre is known for its wide selection of movies, from Hollywood blockbusters to independent films.

Classic Cinemas Cinema 7 has seven auditoriums with luxury heated recliner seating, 7.1 surround sound, and 4K projection.

It also features a full-service concession stand, which offers a variety of snacks and drinks to enjoy during the show.

You can also enjoy free refills of popcorn and drinks when you visit this theater.

Spot Extraordinary Birds at Wilkinson-Renwick Marsh

If you love birdwatching, you’ll want to check out the Wilkinson-Renwick Marsh in Clare.

This 46-acre untouched marsh is home to various birds like Canada goose, tree swallows, gray catbirds, Eurasian collared dove, morning dove, woodpeckers, vireo, and many more.

The best time to visit the marsh is in the spring or fall when the bird population is at its peak.

However, you can still see plenty of birds throughout the summer months.

In other words, if you love or appreciate birds, add the Wilkinson-Renwick Marsh to your travel itinerary.

Expand Your Knowledge at the Sandwich Public Library

Learn new things by reading books at the Sandwich Public Library in Sandwich.

The library has various books available for all ages, and the staff is always willing to help you find the perfect book for your needs.

The library also has a large selection of e-books and audiobooks that you can borrow, in addition to offering traditional printed books.

With so many resources available, the Sandwich Public Library is the perfect place to explore new topics and expand your knowledge.

Explore all that the library has to offer.

You might just be surprised by what you find.

Find a Way Out of the Syco Escape Rooms

If you are looking for challenging activities, go to the Syco Escape Rooms in Sycamore!

The Syco Escape Rooms allow visitors to test their wits and skills in a fun and challenging escape rooms.

Escape rooms with themes like the Quest to the Thrones, Operation: Rogue Agent, Prison Break, and many more.

There should be an adventure that appeals to everyone.

Syco Escape Rooms is perfect for anyone looking to have some fun with friends or family, and it makes for a great team-building exercise for businesses.

Let your imagination run wild as you try to solve the puzzles and find your way out!

Unleash Your Inner Child at Star Worlds Arcade

Childhood memories often involve visiting the local arcade with friends.

For many of us, those days are long gone, but at Star Worlds Arcade in DeKalb, you can relive those glory days and create new ones with your children.

Play classic games like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Galaga, and Ms. Pac-Man.

Check out North America’s only Japanese Dance Dance Revolution Black HD cabinet!

Watch other people dance and see their scores live.

If dancing isn’t your thing, try playing Pop’n music to test your hand-eye coordination.

If you’re feeling competitive, the new Mario Kart GP2 machines allow you to race your friends and put your photos in the game!

With an online scoreboard, you can easily keep track of high scores for all your favorite games.

You can receive alerts when somebody beats your score so that you can try to reclaim bragging rights!

Stop by Star Worlds Arcade and unleash your inner child.

Indulge in the Calmness of Nature at P.A. Nehring Forest Preserve

Thanks to its peaceful woodlands and sparkling streams, P.A. Nehring Forest Preserve will capture your heart as you escape reality with the ones you love most.

Stroll along the overgrown nature trails while enjoying the vibrant foliage colors, giving you an unforgettable experience.

Imagine spending time with your family in a relaxing atmosphere surrounded by Mother Nature’s wonders.

There’s no better place to have quality conversations and great memories that’ll last a lifetime.

Plus, it lets you take a break from all the hustle and bustle of city life and enjoy quality time with your family while having a picnic in the preserve.

Whether you go for a picnic or a nature hike, this serene oasis will help you find solace.

Let all your worries slip away at P.A. Nehring Forest Preserve.

Final Thoughts

DeKalb County is a veritable trove of experiences awaiting you.

Remember to try the best things to do in DeKalb County, Illinois, to make your trip around the county fun and unforgettable.

Check out these suggestions to start your journey today!

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