Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Oak Brook, IL

  • Published 2022/12/08

Oak Brook is a small village in DuPage County, located less than 30 minutes from the state capital, Chicago.

Although this village is famous for being the home of companies like Ace Hardware and Blistex, you can enjoy different activities and sights in Oak Brook.

These include historical museums, quiet nature preserves, picturesque estates, and plenty of golf courses.

Want to know more about this village?

If so, here’s a rundown of the best things to do in Oak Brook, Illinois:

Visit the Graue Mill & Museum

Exterior of the Graue Mill & Museum

James Andrews1 /

The Graue Mill is one of the state’s two operating water-powered grist mills and is the only operating one near the Chicago area.

Today, the Graue Mill & Museum offers visitors a glimpse into the past and insight into how vital mills were for the area.

Find various artifacts and join educational programs on milling, spinning, and weaving on your trip to the museum.

Wheel of the Graue Mill & Museum

James Andrews1 /

At Graue Mill & Museum, check out the grinding area, farmer’s workshop, and Victorian parlor, and find artifacts like wooden gears, buckboards, and weaving equipment.

The hands-on area also allows you to try on period clothing and feel as if you’ve been transported back in time.

After your tour, head to the museum shop and purchase souvenirs, unique gifts, freshly ground cornmeal, homemade jams, and jellies.

Waters in front of the Graue Mill & Museum

James Andrews1 /

Get Your Dose of Italian Cuisine at Antico Posto

Satisfy your Italian food craving at Antico Posto, a cozy trattoria and wine bar serving your favorite Italian classics.

Located at the Oakbrook Center, this is a popular stop for shoppers looking for a mid-day meal or those looking for a nice dinner place after a day out.

At Antico Posto, try their homemade pasta dishes, butternut squash ravioli, chicken limone, pesto-roasted salmon, and other authentic Italian meals.

In addition, house specialties include chicken meatballs with arrabbiata, brick oven pizza, homemade gnocchi with mushroom, and baked eggplant parmesan.

Pair your meal with a glass of wine from their wide selection, or enjoy desserts like olive oil cake, panna cotta, tiramisu, or homemade gelato.

See the Mayslake Peabody Estate

Daytime view of Mayslake Peabody Estate

DiscoverWithDima, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Nestled at the heart of the Mayslake Forest Preserve, Mayslake Peabody Estate is a beautiful estate waiting to be discovered.

It was built as the country home for Francis Stuyvesant Peabody, a wealthy American businessman, and features a Tudor-style mansion, a chapel, and an expansive green space.

Learn about the origins, architecture, and legacy of Mayslake Peabody Estate on an educational tour of the property.

Exterior of Mayslake Peabody Estate

DiscoverWithDima, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Check out the Tudor-style features of Mayslake Hall, now used as a venue for lectures, art and nature-related classes, concerts, performances, and more.

On the other hand, Portiuncula Chapel is available for weddings, memorial services, and other private ceremonies.

Around the estate, walk along the forests and take pictures of the tranquil scenery on a nature walk.

A lake at Mayslake Peabody Estate

DiscoverWithDima, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Play Bowling and Bocce at Pinstripes

Pinstripes Oak Brook offers a unique kind of entertainment, combining casual Italian-American dining with fun and exciting games of bowling and bocce.

The establishment offers well-maintained bocce courts and bowling lanes, comfortable seats, and an impressive menu featuring Italian and American fare.

Challenge your friends and family for a game of bowling or bocce and unleash your competitive side.

In between games, refuel a wood-fired pizza or homemade pasta over a bottle of ice-cold beer, wine, or a handcrafted cocktail.

Pinstripes Oak Brook is conveniently located in Oakbrook Center, so you can visit the establishment in the middle of your shopping trip.

Spend the Day at Fullersburg Woods Forest Preserve

The waters of Fullersburg Woods Forest Preserve

Hank Erdmann /

Surround yourself with gorgeous natural scenery at Fullersburg Woods Forest Preserve, a 220-acre preserve perfect for a getaway with nature.

Despite its location in an urban setting, visitors can take a temporary respite from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis.

Find miles of trails for hiking, biking, trail running, and horseback riding at Fullersburg Woods Forest Preserve, along with fishing and boating areas along Salt Creek.

On your excursion around the forest, spot beavers, red foxes, and birds like egrets, songbirds, herons, and more.

At the Fullersburg Woods Nature Education Center, check out the hands-on and interactive exhibits on flora and fauna in the area.

But if you prefer to do something less physically straining, bring some snacks and enjoy a relaxing picnic in the woods.

Explore the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art

The Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art is an art museum showcasing the best works of lapidary art and exhibits on gemstones and earth science.

The museum was founded in 1962 by Joseph Lizzadro, an Italian immigrant who started collecting jade and other precious stones for jewelry and his personal collection.

Later, he reached an agreement with the government of Elmhurst, Illinois, to display his works before moving the museum to Oak Brook.

See a vast collection of gemstones, hardstone carvings, cameos, and intricately-carved jade art as you explore the exhibits at the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art.

On your visit, don’t miss Castle Lizzadro, a breathtaking 18K gold carving of a castle decorated with amethyst, malachite, azurite, and vanadium.

Shop at Oakbrook Center

Exterior of Oakbrook Center

David Wilson from Oak Park, Illinois, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

For your shopping, dining, and entertainment needs, head to Oakbrook Center, the second-largest shopping center in the Chicago metropolitan area by gross leasable area.

The premier shopping destination houses hundreds of clothing stores, restaurants, cafes, specialty stores, and more, catering to all kinds of buyers.

You can catch a movie at the theaters, take a challenge at the escape room, or enjoy a game of bowling or bocce.

Flower bed at Oakbrook Center

David Wilson from Oak Park, Illinois, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Oakbrook Center also has a range of fast-casual restaurants, sit-down restaurants, and cafes where you can rest and grab a bite before resuming your trip.

With its location along the main thoroughfares in the city, the mall is a perfect one-stop destination.

Follow the Trails along York Woods Forest Preserve

York Woods Forest Preserve is DuPage County’s first forest preserve, featuring 71 acres filled with oak trees, paved trails, and picnic areas.

The centuries-old oak trees create the perfect canopy protecting the area from the heat of the sun, and you can spot birds like red-bellied woodpeckers, owls, northern orioles, and more.

Visitors at the park can relax and have a picnic, go birdwatching, or take a short walk along the trails.

The short trails at York Woods Forest Preserve take hikers around the woods, connecting the north and south picnic areas.

If you’d like to go for a longer walk, there’s a 0.6-mile trail that connects to the 25-mile Salt Creek Greenway Trail.

Enjoy Outdoor Activities at Central Park

Bridge trail at Central Park

Tahaa /

Break a sweat and head to Central Park for various outdoor sports and activities.

The park is conveniently located along the Kingery Highway and is excellent for family fun under the sun.

Find tennis courts, basketball courts, disc golf courses, ball fields, and volleyball courts where you can play and interact with the locals.

Central Park also has walking and biking paths with trails ranging from 0.5 to 1 mile.

After sweating out or exploring the park, head to the picnic shelter or the gazebo to take a breather and enjoy some light snacks.

Check Out Dean Nature Sanctuary

Dean Nature Sanctuary may be one of the lesser-known parks in Oak Brook, but it is one of the region’s more important and unique ecological sites.

The nature preserve offers a secluded and peaceful place for residents and tourists to unwind and take a break.

It also combines ecosystems like oak savannas, wetlands, ponds, and prairie habitats in one area, letting you see and experience various environments on your visit.

Explore Dean Nature Sanctuary and see the micro-apiary for bees, allowing them access to nutrient-rich pollen.

You can also take a walk on the hiking trails on the eastern side of the sanctuary, circling the pond and leading to the Salt Creek canoe ramp.

Some amenities in the area include picnic tables, a portable bathroom, a fishing pier, and exhibits along the limestone trails.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Marvel at the Greenery at The Morton Arboretum

Scenic view of the Morton Arboretum

Mark Baldwin /

Take a 20-minute drive from Oak Brook to Lisle and be in awe of the beauty of The Morton Arboretum.

The 1,700-acre botanical garden boasts around 222,000 plant specimens from 4,500 plant species, a library, a herbarium, and plenty of spots for taking photos.

Flora at the Morton Arboretum

Mark Baldwin /

At The Morton Arboretum, you’ll also learn more about the plants featured and appreciate their contribution to the environment.

Human nature art sculpture at the Morton Arboretum

Rajesh Vijayakumar /

Get lost in the maze garden, check out the Asian and European-inspired gardens, admire the foliage of the oak and ginkgo trees, and don’t miss the fragrant ornamental trees in spring.

As beautiful as the garden looks during the day, you’ll also appreciate the garden at night during events like Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum, where the garden is lit in different colors.

A library at the Morton Arboretum

Hendrickson Photography /

Have a Fun-Filled Day at The Forge Adventure Park & Ziplines

Climbing steps at The Forge Adventure Park & Ziplines

James Andrews1 /

Conquer new heights and feel the adrenaline rush as you enjoy different outdoor activities at The Forge Adventure Park & Ziplines.

Located at Lemont, the adventure park is only a 30-minute drive from Oak Brook.

Spanning 300 acres, the park features zip lines, rope courses, bouldering areas, climbing towers and walls, and trails for hiking and mountain biking.

Aerial view of The Forge Adventure Park & Ziplines

SummerForge, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Climb & Zipline area has different routes and activities which can suit people with varying levels of difficulty, guaranteeing that there’s something for everyone.

Visitors at The Forge Adventure Park & Ziplines can also participate in competitive games like laser tag, axe throwing, and archery tag.

Drop by the on-site restaurants serving and replenish with grilled burgers, salad, and alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks in a relaxed setting.

Watch a Theater Performance at the Drury Lane Theatre

The Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace is one of the five remaining theaters that were part of the Drury Lane Theatres in the Chicago area.

Located 10 minutes from Oak Brook, the theater was named after London’s historic Theatre Royal Drury Lane.

It also presents five shows in a season, ranging from family-friendly titles to classic shows that are sure to delight everyone.

Some current and future theater productions at the Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook Terrace include Grease, Elf The Musical, Cinderella, and Ring of Fire.

If you’re traveling with children, some child-friendly shows include Shrek and A Christmas Carol.

Complete your theater experience and have brunch, afternoon tea, or dinner at the Lucille Restaurant before or after the show.

See the Animals at Brookfield Zoo

The grounds of Brookfield Zoo

Steve Cukrov /

Also known as the Chicago Zoological Park, Brookfield Zoo is one of the must-visit zoos in Chicago, famous for their innovative indoor and outdoor exhibits.

The zoo is located in Brookfield, around 15 minutes from Oak Brook, and is home to 2,300 animals from around 450 species.

It takes pride in being the first zoo to introduce an indoor dolphin exhibit and an indoor rainforest simulation with the goal of replicating the animals’ native habitat.

Carousel at Brookfield Zoo

Steve Cukrov /

Visit Brookfield Zoo and get a chance to get up close and personal with animals like bearded dragons, porcupines, red-tailed hawks, and reindeer.

You can also join fun activities like feeding the penguins or preparing food for the rainforest birds.

Macaws at Brookfield Zoo

Zinnia Jones, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Take a Day Trip to Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve

Cascades of Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve

Nejdet Duzen /

Located in Lemont, drive 20 minutes south of Oak Brook and spend a relaxing day at Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve.

The forest preserve is widely considered one of the best hiking spots near Chicago, offering 11 miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing.

In addition, it boasts a diverse natural scene, with prairies, woodlands, and savannas housing 740 plant species and more than 300 animal species.

Trail at Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve

James Andrews1 /

At Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve, plenty of outdoor activities await you.

Catch breathtaking views from the savanna bluffs and of the waterfalls on a hiking trip while bikers can traverse through the limestone-covered trails.

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve also has a model-craft area where visitors can test their model aircraft or fly a kite.

Tall trees at Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve

Hank Erdmann /

Final Thoughts

Oak Brook may be known for its corporate and industrial background, but this village in DuPage County has more to offer.

The village has plenty of parks, and nature preserves where you can sit back and escape from the busy city life.

In addition, you can find museums and picturesque estates where you can learn more about Oak Brook and DuPage County.

Consider this village on your next weekend trip, and check out these best things to do in Oak Brook, Illinois!

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