Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Glen Ellyn, IL

  • Published 2023/04/04

Glen Ellyn is a thriving and affluent suburban area in Western Chicago.

This small village in DuPage County has thrived over the years following its massive development in the late 1950s.

Glen Ellyn is a lowkey magnificent travel destination for those looking for a quick weekend getaway.

This small Illinois village boasts an eclectic collection of attractions.

Glen Ellyn is also home to the College of DuPage’s main campus, the second biggest higher education institution in Illinois.

Likewise, this village is also a renowned area for arts and culture, making it a fascinating place to explore.

In addition, Glen Ellyn’s streets have a delightful collection of local businesses from boutiques, restaurants, and shops that make up its downtown area.

Many exciting activities and attractions in Glen Ellyn are worth checking out.

So, check out the best things to do in Glen Ellyn, Illinois.

Explore Downtown Glen Ellyn

Exterior of the Glen theatre at Downtown Glen Ellyn

Nicola Patterson /

To witness Glen Ellyn’s vibrant streetscape, head to its downtown area, which treats you to a delightful experience.

Downtown Glen Ellyn is on Main Street, where you can find most of the village’s businesses.

It’s also where you’ll see the Metra Union Pacific West Line.

It serves as a thoroughfare following the railroad corridor of the Illinois Prairie Path network.

Marquee of Glen theatre at Downtown Glen Ellyn

Eddie J. Rodriquez /

There’s no better place in Glen Ellyn to spend your afternoon or evening than its downtown area.

You’ll easily spend hours browsing shops, restaurants, and businesses offering various products and services.

Likewise, enjoy shopping, dining, and other leisure activities you won’t expect to find in a small community like Glen Ellyn.

Wander Lake Ellyn Park

This gorgeous park in Glen Ellyn is in the center of its community.

It has a boathouse that serves as the locals’ favorite event venue for social gatherings and community events.

Lake Ellyn Park’s shores offer visitors picturesque scenery, making it an excellent place for recreation and relaxation.

It has an expansive deck on its eastern portion, offering visitors another spectacular view of Lake Ellyn.

You can also see local flora and fauna there.

The deck can accommodate as many as 150 people, making it an idyllic picnic spot in Lake Ellyn Park.

In addition, you can rent a boat and explore the lake yourself.

Lake Ellyn Park spans around 29 acres, an ideal way to start your travel adventure in Glen Ellyn.

Have Fun Outdoors with Your Dog at Spring Avenue Dog Park

Traveling with your furry friend can be tricky; some outdoor spaces may not be friendly.

Fortunately, Glen Ellyn’s Spring Avenue Dog Park celebrates your pet’s freedom and curiosity for the wilderness.

This off-leash and enclosed dog park has everything you need for your beloved pet’s outdoor adventure.

With its multiple disposal bags, picnic tables, and a large open play area for your dogs to run, play, and socialize with other dogs.

Spring Avenue Dog Park is open all throughout the week, so be sure to come by when you’ve got the time.

As the name suggests, this dog park is on Spring Avenue near Highway 53.

Learn to Skate at the Center Ice of Dupage

The Center Ice of Dupage is your ultimate destination for indoor ice skating and hockey.

This center comes with two arenas.

It features a wide range of programs, including skate rentals, skating lessons, and even hockey classes.

Come by with your friends and loved ones and enjoy the arena with either rollerskates or skating scooters.

You can also watch live hockey games and leagues.

Get going to Highland Avenue to reach the Center Ice of Dupage.

Explore Art at the Annual Festival of the Arts

When it comes to historic events in Glen Ellyn, the annual Festival of the Arts takes one of the top places on the list.

This annual event takes place every August.

A community staple, this event welcomes over 40 artists into the beautiful shores of Lake Ellyn for an outstanding art program.

It features juried art showcases, booths, live performances that highlight folk music, and other forms of entertainment.

And best of all, this event offers free admission!

Whether you’re an artist or an art enthusiast, make sure the Festival of the Arts is on your calendar.

This event takes place in downtown Glen Ellyn and Lake Ellyn Park on Lenox Road.

Walk through the Sensory Garden at Newton Park

On Fairview Avenue, Newton Park stands out as an outdoor recreational space in Glen Ellyn.

Spanning 25 acres, this public park features an inclusive playground, an open play area for all kinds of sports and games, and benches for your respite.

It also has two tennis courts and an outdoor basketball court.

During the winter season, the park opens with an outdoor skating rink and a sledding hill.

With these facilities in mind, you can be sure the fun and entertainment are endless!

Newton Park also has a skate park worth checking out.

So, add it to your itinerary as soon as you can.

Admire the Beauty of Nature at Russell R. Kirt Prairie

The 18-acre Russell R. Kirt Prairie is a restored prairie and savannah natural spot in Glen Ellyn.

Many come by to admire the abundance of sunflowers growing within the area, alongside other native plantations.

The spot is also a monitoring site for many scientists and ecologists interested in birds, butterflies, and other insects and wildlife.

Sign up for guided tours around the property for a more immersive nature experience.

Russell R. Kirt Prairie is a part of the College of DuPage’s Natural Areas.

You can find this prairie land along Lambert Road.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Explore the Morton Arboretum

The calm waters of meadow lake at Morton Arboretum

Mark Baldwin /

Drive outside Glen Ellyn to Lisle, Illinois, and you’ll reach the magical place of Morton Arboretum.

It’s 18 minutes away from Glen Ellyn.

This tree research facility is widely known throughout Illinois for its outdoor museum, public garden, herbarium, library, and the Center for Tree Science.

It’s a fascinating place, especially if you want to take a side trip involving an educational tour with nature.

The Morton Arboretum is home to more than 222,000 plant specimens from 4,650 species.

Human Nature art installation on the grounds of Morton Arboretum

Rajesh Vijayakumar /

It features massive plant collections through its gardens amid charming natural woodland and prairie landscapes.

Visitors will enjoy a pleasant experience exploring its gardens and forested areas.

You can hike and take photos of the beautiful scenery.

In addition, kids will have fun exploring the arboretum’s Children’s Garden and the Sterlin Morton Library.

A bench along a paved trail at Morton Arboretum

Mark Baldwin /

Enjoy the Outdoors at Maryknoll Park

Many Glen Ellyn locals consider this community park in Glen Ellyn as one of their favorite places to hang out.

During summer, Maryknoll Park brims with families and groups who look for outdoor fun through its amenities and park facilities.

Maryknoll Park features a 27-hole mini-golf course.

At the same time, it has an extensive splash park with around a dozen interactive water sprays, playgrounds, and an adventure course.

Those who want to take their outdoor adventure in Maryknoll Park to the next level can head to the 75-foot zip line or perhaps its 25-foot climbing wall.

Most of all, Maryknoll Park is a charming place to picnic with your loved ones.

Don’t forget to visit this park to pass the time or have fun with your companions.

Spend Time at the Cantigny Park

Beautiful landscape of Cantigny Park

JR Inspirations /

This natural area is a sprawling 500-acre outdoor attraction that is worth visiting if you’re in Glen Ellyn.

It’s in Wheaton, Illinois, 15 minutes from Glen Ellyn.

Cantigny Park is an incredible place to visit, especially for those who want more outdoor adventure.

The park features vast fields, forested areas, picnic groves, playgrounds, hiking trails, a 27-hole golf course, and a gift shop.

Since 1958, this park has welcomed visitors from all over, making it one of the longest-running parks in DuPage County.

Bright flowers at Cantigny Park

Danita Delimont /

It’s known throughout the county and Illinois as a top-notch recreation center that doesn’t just offer fun-filled activities but educational activities as well.

Cantigny Park is also home to the Robert McCormick Museum, Cantigny Gardens, Trails, and the Cantigny Golf Course.

Whether you’re visiting this park in Wheaton for recreation or perhaps a bit of history, something exciting awaits you there.

Colorful trees beside the waters of Cantigny Park

Kim Lewis Photography /

Visit Stacy’s Tavern Museum

This local museum in front of Stacy Park features a unique piece of history that is fascinating to explore.

Stacy’s Tavern Museum today is a famous historical attraction in Glen Ellyn that you shouldn’t miss visiting.

You’ll easily notice this place because of its elegantly-designed Greek Revival architecture constructed in 1846.

This museum formerly served as a wayside stagecoach inn, popular lodging for passing travelers back in the day.

This museum in Glen Ellyn has plenty of artifacts and memorabilia that take you down memory lane.

It provides visitors a glimpse of what simple life was back in the day.

A tour at Stacy’s Tavern Museum is a fascinating experience you must include in your itinerary on your visit to Glen Ellyn.

Uncover the Past with Glen Ellyn Historical Society

For a pleasant historical tour throughout Glen Ellyn, hook up with the Glen Ellyn Historical Society.

Their office at Geneva Road welcomes visitors who want to explore Glen Ellyn’s history through their fascinating tours.

Since 1969, the Glen Ellyn Historical Society has offered visitors worthwhile historical tours throughout the village and neighboring towns.

In addition, they are renowned for their preservation efforts of Glen Ellyn’s historical landmarks and structures.

Today, Glen Ellyn Historical Society continues its mission to preserve and restore its community’s treasured past through its volunteer-based projects.

A tour with them is a genuine experience you must not miss, if you want to discover Glen Ellyn’s history.

Stroll through the Beautiful Lilacia Park

Welcome arch of Lilacia Park

Steve Cukrov /

This marvelous public garden was the culmination of Colonel William Plum and his wife, Helen’s creativity.

Find it in Lombard, Illinois, eight minutes from Glen Ellyn.

This famous garden is a horticultural masterpiece with over 700 lilacs and over 35,000 tulips blooming annually.

A visit to Lilacia Park is a worthwhile experience, especially for an anthophile or a person that loves flowers.

Lovely trees and flowers of Lilacia Park

Kim Lewis Photography /

Nonetheless, even an average tourist will marvel at Lilacia’s beautifully landscaped gardens filled with famous lilacs and tulips.

The entire garden spans 8.5 acres near the Helen M. Plum Memorial Library.

The best time to visit the lilacs and tulips is during the spring when they bloom fully.

During the spring, dozens of activities like concerts, tours, and food tastings also take place in the park.

Vibrant tulips along Lilacia Park's paved walkway

photo.eccles /

Bring Your Family to the Enchanted Castle Family Entertainment Center

This theme park offers you and your loved ones a wholesome fun-filled experience.

You’ll find it in Lombard, Illinois, 11 minutes from Glen Ellyn.

Enchanted Castle Family Entertainment Center features outdoor attractions, rides, and games that your loved ones will surely enjoy.

This theme park features a laser tag arena, blacklight miniature golf course, and an indoor go-kart racing course.

You can also try their virtual reality (VR) experience, mini bowling lanes, bumper cars, and a massive arcade featuring 200 game cabinets.

Appreciate Local Arts at the Cleve Carney Museum of Art

This charming art museum in Glen Ellyn is an excellent place for art lovers and enthusiasts.

Cleve Carney Museum of Art features a vast art collection featuring renowned artists such as Raymond Pettibon, Rodney Carswell, and Kehinde Wiley.

In addition, Cleve Carney Museum of Art has a vast collection of modern and contemporary arts showcased in its exhibits and galleries.

This charming art museum gets its name from local philanthropist Cleve Carney, also a renowned artist.

Aside from being a top-notch art museum, Cleve Carney Museum of Arts offers education programs.

A visit to this art museum in Glen Ellyn is a worthwhile experience, especially for those who have a taste in art.

Go Fishing at the Hidden Lake Forest Preserve

Daytime view of Hidden Lake Forest Preserve

ESB Basic /

This 390-acre forest preserve south of Glen Ellyn is one of the favorite fishing spots for local anglers.

It’s in Downers Grove, Illinois, ten minutes from Glen Ellyn.

It spans 390 acres, a mixture of the lake and forested areas, encompassing an old-growth woodland and freshwater lake.

The Hidden Lake Forest Preserve is a fascinating natural area worth checking out in Glen Ellyn.

However, the most popular activity to enjoy there is fishing.

Hidden Lake is abundant in bluegill, carp, bass, and channel catfish, making fishing exciting.

Tee Up at the Holes and Knolls Mini-Golf Course

Mary Knoll Park is full of surprises and worth exploring.

One of them is the Holes and Knolls Mini-Golf Course.

If you’re looking for a fun activity to pass the time at Glen Ellyn, try to play golf at this mini-course.

The Holes and Knolls Mini-Golf Course features 36 holes, divided into two 18-hole golf courses.

Playing golf at this famous place in Glen Ellyn is an excellent way to bond with your loved ones.

At the same time, you’ll have a great time overcoming the challenging terrain that features waterfalls, ponds, streams, and boulders.

See Orchestra Performances at McAninch Arts Center

See a mesmerizing orchestra play at this plush arts center on the main campus of Illinois’ second-largest educational institution.

The McAninch Arts Center, constructed in 2013, is Glen Ellyn’s center for performing arts.

You’ll see Grammy-winning artists play there regularly.

A couple of the renowned performers that have played here are the New Philharmonic Orchestra and the Buffalo Theatre Ensemble.

Watching a show or two with these renowned groups is an unforgettable musical experience you must not miss during your visit to Glen Ellyn.

The art center features a 780-seater theater called the Belushi Performance Hall, where most artists perform.

At the same time, the Playhouse Theatre, a smaller venue with 184-seats, and the 70-seater Studio Theatre regularly host entertaining shows.

For an outdoor experience at the McAninch Arts Center, you can watch shows at the 1,200-seater Lakeside Pavilion.

Walk through the Churchill Woods

Thick fog over Churchill Woods

Mark Baldwin /

To explore the area’s natural beauty, head to Churchill Woods for some nature hiking activity.

It’s in Lombard, Illinois, five minutes from Glen Ellyn.

This vast forested area spans 255 acres and serves as a nature preserve in Glen Ellyn.

The Churchill Woods is also where you’ll find the East Branch of the DuPage River.

It serves as diverse habitat for native prairie wildlife.

Likewise, it’s a savanna of black maple, burr oak, and white oak.

It’s also a haven for nature lovers who want to explore the unspoiled natural area of Glen Ellyn.

Discover various tree and plant species and local wildlife while you wander the woods.

Hiking the Churchill Woods is a pleasant experience you should include in your Glen Ellyn travel itinerary.

Stretch Your Muscles at the Ackerman Park

This vast park adjacent to the Churchill Woods is one of the main places where the locals get active.

Ackerman Park boasts a top-notch sports and fitness center with modern facilities that will give you a quality workout.

If you want to take a break and exercise during your trip to Glen Ellyn, then visit Ackerman Park.

Ackerman Park has an indoor rock wall, synthetic field, basketball courts, group fitness studio, and personal trainers to give you top-notch workout sessions.

In addition, it has numerous sports facilities aside from its basketball courts, such as softball fields, soccer fields, and sand volleyball courts.

Final Thoughts

You’ll enjoy so many exciting activities in Glen Ellyn that you won’t finish all of them in a day.

Consider this small Illinois village your next travel destination, especially if you’re from Milwaukee or Chicago.

It’s only an hour away from these two major cities.

Otherwise, pencil off a weekend for your Glen Ellyn trip!

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