Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in DuPage County, IL

  • Published 2023/05/13

DuPage County in Illinois combines big-city living with the charm of smaller towns.

Located a few minutes from the Chicago metropolitan area, it’s a perfect escape or weekend destination for those who want to take a break from the metro.

It has large parks, child-friendly and family-friendly establishments, and other places of interest for every kind of traveler.

If you’re looking for a quick getaway from the busy streets of Chicago, check out the 20 best things to do in DuPage County, Illinois!

Go for a Walk Along Naperville Riverwalk

Sunset at Naperville Riverwalk

Hendrickson Photography /

Hailed as the Crown Jewel of Naperville, the Naperville Riverwalk is a great place to get an overview of what the city has to offer.

The riverwalk was built in honor of the city’s 150th anniversary.

It spans 1.75 miles and takes you around quaint parks, historical sites, bridges, pavilions, and other notable structures.

Water fountain at Naperville Riverwalk

EA Given /

On your walking and sightseeing tour along Naperville Riverwalk, you can stop by the fountains, memorials, playgrounds, and parks for a quick break before resuming.

Since the path is paved and brick-laden, travelers with limited mobility or on wheelchairs can still explore the area comfortably.

Signage of Naperville Riverwalk

Steve Cukrov /

Explore the Gardens of The Morton Arboretum

A sculpture at The Morton Arboretum

Rajesh Vijayakumar /

The Morton Arboretum is one of DuPage County’s most popular tourist sites, located in Lisle.

This botanical garden offers 1,700 acres of specialty gardens, exhibits, and hiking trails, giving you a deeper appreciation of nature and how they contribute to our planet.

Be in awe of Mother Nature’s works at The Morton Arboretum and discover thousands of tree species as you wander through the exhibitions.

Meadow and lake at The Morton Arboretum

Mark Baldwin /

There are winding maze gardens, gorgeous foliage from oak, gingko, and maple trees, towering conifers, and beautiful ornamental flowering trees.

Aside from usual garden tours, you can also join special events like summer concerts, wine tastings, and brunch events at the arboretum.

Joy path at The Morton Arboretum

Mark Baldwin /

Learn History at Naper Settlement

Exterior of Naper Settlement

Hendrickson Photography /

Established in 1969, Naper Settlement is a 12-acre outdoor history museum that gives visitors a glimpse into how Naperville turned from a pioneer outpost to a thriving community.

The museum complex contains 30 historic structures, including a schoolhouse, a Civil War-era church, a carriage house, and the Martin Mitchell Mansion.

The Martin Mitchell Mansion is a timeless Victorian-era mansion with well-maintained interiors that reminds you of period films.

Explore Naper Settlement and feel as if you’ve traveled back in time as you walk around the buildings and houses.

Some of the buildings you’ll find include a blacksmith shop, firehouse, stone carver’s shop, smokehouse, and windmill.

Bring Your Kids to DuPage Children’s Museum

Traveling with kids? Take them to DuPage Children’s Museum and let their curiosities run free and discover new things.

Founded in 1987, the museum features various interactive and hands-on exhibits to pique your child’s interest and encourage exploration.

Not only will they discover new things, but they’ll also get the chance to meet and play with children of the same age.

Visit DuPage Children’s Museum and play along with your kids as you visit one exhibit and another.

Let them develop their critical thinking and problem-solving skills, help them unleash their inner artist, and have a fun day bonding with your kids at the museum.

See the Grandeur of the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Chicago

Entrance arch of BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Chicago

Uladzik Kryhin /

Pay your respects or enjoy a few moments of tranquility at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Chicago, a Hindu traditional place of worship.

It boasts over 27 acres, with the mandir itself built with Turkish limestone and hand-carved Italian marble.

Discover the beauty of the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Chicago and explore the place of worship and cultural complex.

Water fountain at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Chicago

Uladzik Kryhin /

Learn about Hindu culture and get a deeper appreciation of it as you tour the mandir itself and the haveli.

Then, drop by the souvenir store to bring home traditional snacks, herbal health products, and gifts.

Facade of BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Chicago

Uladzik Kryhin /

Meet the Animals of Cosley Zoo

Signage of Cosley Zoo

Christian Wilcox from Madison, United States, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Get an up-close interaction with various animals at Cosley Zoo, a five-acre zoo in Wheaton, DuPage County.

The zoo is built on the site of a historic train station, housing native animals and other wildlife species native to Illinois.

Aside from providing a safe haven for these animals, the zoo takes pride in sustainable conservation practices like minimizing plastic waste and repurposing materials.

Peacock at Cosley Zoo

boliyou, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Explore Cosley Zoo’s 20 exhibits and enjoy a safe yet fun way to interact with the animals.

See animals like miniature donkeys, bearded dragons, red-tailed hawks, and four-toed salamanders.

A chicken at Cosley Zoo

boliyou, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth at Chocolaterie Stam Glen Ellyn

Since 1913, Chocolaterie Stam Glen Ellyn has been creating world-class chocolate and other confections using European traditions.

The chocolate shop uses recipes handed down from one generation to another, preserving ages-old family traditions and producing high-quality products.

At Chocolaterie Stam Glen Ellyn, try their famous hand-painted chocolates, truffles, and signature milk, dark, and white chocolate bonbons.

On a cold day, grab a cup of hot chocolate, coffee, and signature drinks based on their chocolates.

Aside from their chocolates, you can also order a scoop of their Italian gelato in a variety of flavors.

Walk Around Naperville Historic District

Sleight street at Naperville Historic District

Bcsimon15, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A walking and sightseeing tour of Naperville Historic District is a must for history buffs and architecture enthusiasts.

Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the historic district boasts hundreds of buildings that have contributed to the development of the city.

Some of the houses in the district were former residences of prominent figures and families of Naperville.

A house at Naperville Historic District

Bcsimon15, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The best way to explore Naperville Historic District is by joining guided tours for added information on the structures.

However, you can also go on a self-guided tour around the district and admire the timeless architecture.

North Avenue at Naperville Historic District

Teemu08 at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Enjoy Year-Round Activities at Cantigny Park

Trail at Cantigny Park

JR Inspirations /

At 500 acres, Cantigny Park is one of the largest parks in DuPage County, located in Wheaton.

The park offers picturesque formal gardens, a historical museum, hiking trails, and picnic areas.

With all these facilities, you can easily spend half a day or even a full day at Cantigny Park.

Baseball at Cantigny Park

Ken Schulze /

Visit the First Division Museum at Cantigny for a deeper insight into the military history of the First Infantry Division.

In addition, you can bring snacks for a picnic, take photos of the colorful blooms in the gardens, or go for a scenic stroll or view the wildlife along the miles of nature trails.

Colorful blooms at Cantigny Park

Danita Delimont /

Take a Tour of Mayslake Peabody Estate

The grounds of Mayslake Peabody Estate

David Wilson, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Mayslake Peabody Estate is a former country home that’s part of Mayslake Forest Preserve.

The estate complex showcases the Tudor Revival-style Mayslake Hall, the Portiuncula Chapel, and several acres of oak savannas, wetlands, lakes, and restored prairies.

Admire the well-preserved interior and travel back to England’s Tudor Period on a tour around Mayslake Hall.

A chapel at Mayslake Peabody Estate

DiscoverWithDima, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The hall is also a popular venue for concerts, cultural programs, nature programs, and other local events.

After touring the hall, explore the rest of Mayslake Peabody Estate, like the Portiuncula Chapel and the surrounding nature trails.

Waters at Mayslake Peabody Estate

DiscoverWithDima, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Shop at Wheaton French Market

Shop for artisan goods, fresh produce, and other local finds at Wheaton French Market.

The French-style open-air market in Wheaton is only open on weekends and provides an opportunity for local businesses and growers to showcase their products to a wider audience.

You can also find what fruits and vegetables are in season as the market provides the freshest batch of them.

Visit Wheaton French Market and find an assortment of items, including baked goods, clothes, handmade accessories, fresh flowers, and more.

As you shop around the market, be serenaded with live music that transports you to the lively cities in France.

Hike the Trails at Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve

The waters of Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve

Nejdet Duzen /

Enjoy various outdoor activities at Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve, a 2,503-acre nature preserve in Lemont, DuPage County.

It’s considered one of the best hiking areas near Chicago, with 11 miles of trails suited for hiking, horseback riding, biking, and cross-country skiing in winter.

But the highlight of the forest preserve is the scenic Rocky Glen Waterfall, a gorgeous body of water that’s worth the hike.

Nature trail at Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve

Nejdet Duzen /

Follow the trails at Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve, some of which are suited for beginners and visitors with dogs.

You can also relax at the large open field that’s also a popular spot for model aircraft flying.

Log bench at Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve

James Andrews1 /

Tour Kline Creek Farm

People touring Kline Creek Farm

Ken Schulze /

See what life was like during the 1890s on a tour around Kline Creek Farm, a living history farm.

This 200-acre farm site in West Chicago consists of restored buildings, a chicken coop, a wagon shed, and other elements of farm life in DuPage County back then.

Visitors of Kline Creek Farm can join tours led by costumed interpreters for a better understanding of farming activities.

You can also watch staff and volunteers plant heirloom vegetables in the garden, tend to the orchard, harvest ice, and more.

The farm also presents old-school farming activities like canning, spring cleaning, sheep shearing, and preparing the house for special celebrations.

Sheep at Kline Creek Farm

Ken Schulze /

Practice Your Golf Skills at Cantigny Golf Club

Cantigny Golf Club is a 27-hole public golf course set on a terrain featuring rolling hills, lakes, and forests.

Ranking among the best golf courses in the Midwest, it provides a beautiful yet challenging environment for beginners and expert golfers.

It has three distinct areas, namely the Hillside, Lakeside, and Woodside, each having its unique charm.

Play a couple of rounds at Cantigny Golf Club, whether it’s a chill 9 to 18 or a competitive golf outing with friends or family.

After playing, have a well-deserved meal at Fareways Grill and enjoy burgers, sandwiches, and an impressive selection of cocktails, wines, and craft beers.

Spend a Relaxing Day at Blackwell Forest Preserve

Scenic view of Blackwell Forest Preserve

Mark Baldwin /

Take a break from your busy routines and relax within the surroundings of Blackwell Forest Preserve.

Located in Warrenville, the nature preserve offers more than 6 miles of multi-use trails, including one that connects to the longer Illinois Prairie Path.

You can also view the preserve from a different perspective by renting a canoe, kayak, or paddle boat.

Visit Blackwell Forest Preserve and enjoy various outdoor activities: from hiking and fishing to picnicking and camping.

Dogs are allowed in the preserve as long as they’re on a leash under 10 feet.

Marvel at the Flowers of Lilacia Park

Entrance arch of Lilacia Park

Steve Cukrov /

In spring, don’t miss a visit to the charming gardens of Lilacia Park in Lombard.

Spanning 8.5 acres, the park is famous for its hundreds of lilacs and more than 35,000 tulips that bloom in May.

Because of its contribution to horticultural history in Illinois and the US, Lilacia Park was included in the list of the National Register of Historical Places in 2019.

Explore the park and capture postcard-perfect photos with the flowers in full bloom.

Aside from the gardens, the park offers walking paths, benches for quick breaks, lookout areas, and picnic shelters.

Beautiful flora at Lilacia Park

Kim Lewis Photography /

Explore St. James Farm Forest Preserve

The grounds of St. James Farm Forest Preserve

ESB Basic /

St. James Farm Forest Preserve is the perfect place to surround yourself with pristine natural surroundings.

The farm used to be the country retreat for the McCormick family and is now a place where visitors can step back in time or enjoy leisure activities.

Find over 100 acres of woodlands, wetlands, and prairies, and over 300 wildlife and plant species at St. James Farm Forest Preserve.

In addition, there’s an indoor riding arena, hiking trails, a pond, and picnic tables.

If you’re visiting in autumn, don’t miss the gorgeous foliage creating a dreamy canopy of golds, yellows, and oranges.

A turkey at St. James Farm Forest Preserve

ESB Essentials /

Bike Along the DuPage River Trail

For biking enthusiasts, the DuPage River Trail offers several miles of trails past woodlands, farmsteads, meadows, and wetlands.

The trail is located in Naperville and is also ideal for dog walking, running, snowshoeing, and in-line skating.

DuPage River Trail has three main segments passing through Bolingbrook, Plainfield, Shorewood, and other neighborhoods.

As the trail is paved and flat, beginner bikers can take the trail as practice grounds, while those with more experience can bike here as a relaxing exercise.

Along your bike adventure, you can stop over at DuPage River Park or Whalon Lake for refreshing views of the greenery.

Have a Picnic at Mallard Lake

Sunset over Mallard Lake /

Mallard Lake is a good place for outdoor activities like boating, fishing, hiking, and picnicking.

It houses the area’s largest recreational lake, the 85-acre Mallard Lake, where visitors can fish or go kayaking.

The nature preserve also offers 4 miles of multipurpose trails, including one trail system with a boardwalk perfect for birdwatching.

For anglers, fish at Mallard Lake and catch bluegill, crappie, largemouth bass, and flathead catfish at the lake.

If you prefer a relaxing way to spend time at the park, bring your favorite book and a picnic blanket and relax in the grassy fields.

Take Your Dogs to Fullersburg Woods

Trees at Fullersburg Woods

Nagel Photography /

Traveling with your dogs? Bring them to Fullersburg Woods for a relaxing stroll or hike.

This forest preserve in Oak Brook provides 200 acres of scenic trails and a safe haven for several wildlife species.

All trails in the nature preserve suit visitors of different skill levels and are ideal for hiking and biking and winter activities like cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Go on an adventure with man’s best friend at Fullersburg Woods and enjoy the calming environment

Should you bring your dog to the woods, make sure they’re kept on a leash under 10 feet.

Final Thoughts

DuPage County offers numerous places to see and things to do, whether you want to go on a nature escape or visit historical sites.

Located near the Chicago metropolitan area, it’s the perfect weekend retreat from the busy city.

Let this list of the 20 best things to do in DuPage County guide you for a memorable vacation!

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