21 Best Things to Do in St. Charles, IL

St. Charles, IL
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A city located on the Fox River, St. Charles is a great place to venture into its history and the nature surrounding it.

You can find this city just 35 miles west of the bustling city of Chicago.

Apart from being near a large metropolis, St. Charles has made a name for its food and art scene.

However, it also has many green spaces to visit and explore.

Are you planning to come to this charming, historic city?

Here are the 21 best things to do in St. Charles, Illinois:

Stroll Through Downtown St. Charles

Street view of Downtown St. Charles
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You don’t have to travel far from St. Charles to look for tourist-worthy destinations.

The downtown district of this historic city is lined with fantastic shops, restaurants, venues, parks, and historic structures.

Main Street itself features vintage streetlamps with flower boxes dotting the sidewalk along with lush trees.

Riverwalk at Downtown St. Charles
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Stroll through the streets of this amazing city and look out for some of its most impressive historical buildings.

Some places to see are the St. Charles Municipal Building and Hotel Baker.

Walking around the city is a great way to spend your afternoon here in St. Charles.

View of Downtown St. Charles
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Explore Hickory Knolls Discovery Center

Don’t forget to visit the Hickory Knolls Discovery Center when you’re here.

Your kids can develop their curiosity with the many interesting exhibits and displays here.

One of them includes a reptile showcase and other areas where you and your kids can get close to many different animals.

Let your younger companions learn about the Ice Age, witness and experience an interactive mural, and explore easy trails full of incredible flora and fauna.

Hickory Knolls Discovery Center is a great place to bond with the entire family.

Make sure to check it out when you come to this city.

Hang Out at Delnor Woods Park

View of Delnor Woods Park
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St. Charles is a city with multiple green and natural places that you can visit.

One of them is Delnor Woods Park.

It’s a great place to head over to if you want some peace and relaxation by going on a walk and admiring the natural landscape around you.

View of Delnor Woods Park
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Here, you can bring picnic supplies and eat on the grass or at the pavilion.

There is a playground where your kids can play and have a blast.

Additionally, the park has numerous trails, river access, and multiple fishing spots you can check out.

Spend a relaxing afternoon at Delnor Woods Park when you’re in St. Charles.

View of Delnor Woods Park
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Appreciate Nature at Norris Woods Nature Preserve

Another outdoor nature preserve that you can go to while in this city is the Norris Woods Nature Preserve.

This is what remains of dry-mesic upland forests that the Fox River once bordered.

You can witness stunning nature when you come here, as it features beautiful spring wildflowers and old-growth trees.

It is also located right by a river, so you also have breathtaking river views.

The numerous old-growth trees make visitors stand in awe as the nature preserve features red and white oaks that are estimated to be between 100 and 150 years old.

You can also spot numerous woodland fauna here, including over 40 species of nesting birds, squirrels, American toads, and more.

It’s a great outdoor space that you can visit in the middle of the city.

Be in Awe of the Great Outdoors at Ferson Creek Forest Preserve

Fernson Creek Forest Preserve is another nature preserve that you can find within St. Charles.

Here, you can see wet floodplain forests right next to sedge meadows.

When you come here, you get to see many plant species endemic to the types of ecosystems present here.

You can also spot many animals using this area as their habitat.

Because many birds stay here or fly by during migration, this spot is great for birdwatching.

Some birds you can find here include prothonotary warblers, swamp sparrows, blue-gray gnatcatchers, and more.

Experience the natural beauty of St. Charles at Fernson Creek Forest Preserve.

Experience Taking Care of Animals at Primrose Farm

Scenic view of Primrose Farm
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It’s always fun to spend time with your companions to have amazing experiences.

When you’re in the city, visit Primrose Farm and interact with some amazing animals that call this place its home.

Apart from farm animal encounters, you can also explore and stroll through the premises for a relaxing time.

Wooden wheel at Primrose Farm
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You can also do many interesting activities here, including milking coats, giving food to the animals, and even collecting fresh eggs that you can also take home.

You can also get up close with the horses at this farm and learn how to take care of them.

You will have a pleasant time when you visit Primrose Farm.

Hop on Board the St. Charles Paddlewheel Riverboats

When you come to St. Charles, you must experience going onboard a St. Charles Paddlewheel Riverboat.

It hosts riverboat cruises along the Fox River, which many have considered as the must-do activity in St. Charles by visitors since the 1940s.

St. Charles Paddlewheel Riverboats’ fleet comprises two boats: the Fox River Queen and St. Charles Belle II.

You can catch a ride on both paddle wheelers throughout the summer season.

Hop on board and experience how people cruised down this river over a century ago.

It’s a unique and breathtaking experience to share with all your travel companions.

Learn About the City at St. Charles History Museum

If you want to learn more about the historic city of St. Charles, explore the St. Charles History Museum.

This place aims to share more information about the history of this beautiful city.

It features both permanent and temporary exhibits, all focused on telling the story of St. Charles, Illinois.

You can also check out their research room and archives, as well as their collection made up of over 10,000 photos and 15,000 collectibles.

Apart from preserving artifacts and showcasing them in exhibits, this museum also hosts several events throughout the years.

These include anything from informational classes to exciting scavenger hunts.

Make sure to add the St. Charles History Museum to your must-visit list.

Learn About Life in the 19th Century at Beith House Museum

View of Beith House Museum
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Another historical landmark that you can check out in St. Charles is the Meith House Museum.

You can find this right on the banks of Fox River.

This home is made with a Greek revival style of architecture.

Additionally, it is one of the few largely unaltered river stone structures in its neighborhood.

The home was owned by a stonemason named William Beith, who had the home constructed in 1850.

You can find permanent and temporary exhibits on the home’s first floor when you come here.

Tours and events are available here, and they’re the best ways to get to know more about the home’s history and its surrounding areas.

Get a glimpse of St. Charles’ past by visiting the Beith House Museum.

Step Back in Time at the Durant House Museum

You can find another amazing historic home in St. Charles.

Durant House Museum is an 1843 prairie farmhouse that has been authentically restored.

It features interpreters in period-appropriate costumes who help visitors immerse themselves in how life was like on a farm back in the mid-1800s.

The museum showcases furnishings appropriate to the era and a collection of memorabilia connected to the home.

It also hosts various special programs that let you experience a part of how people lived during that century in St. Charles.

This place is known for offering visitors a unique historical experience, so make sure to add this to your St. Charles to-do list.

Go on a Picnic at Pottawatomie Park

View of Pottawatomie Park
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Are you looking for a hangout spot in St. Charles?

If you are, then head on over to Pottawatomie Park.

You can find this lovely park right by the Fox River, and you can do a lot of activities here when you visit.

For those who want to play in the river, you can ride and fish on a canoe.

View of Pottawatomie Park
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If you want to make a splash, head on over to the park’s swimming pool.

It also features a playground where your kids can have fun, a picnic area for the family, and sports amenities for those who want to keep active.

You can also find several paved trails at the park that you can walk or run through.

View of Pottawatomie Park
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You can even find a golf course here!

It’s one of the best places to go for recreational fun with the family.

Make sure to visit this place when you come to the city.

Watch a Play at Steel Beam Theater

Performing arts brings a community together by enhancing their creativity and showcasing it to the public.

When you’re in St. Charles, make sure to catch a show at the Steel Beam Theatre.

This performing arts venue usually features fantastic, entertaining. and thought-provoking productions

They produce shows for all ages -- from kids’ plays to more complex shows for adults.

Apart from incredible shows, you can also participate in acting classes and performing arts workshops.

It’s a great place to witness stunning arts and develop your creativity.

Don’t hesitate to add this to your St. Charles itinerary.

Have a Splash at Otter Cove Aquatic Center

A popular family-friendly attraction right in St. Charles is the Otter Cove Aquatic Center.

When you’re in the city, make sure to visit this place and have a blast with your entire family.

It features several pools, exciting waterslides, and a relaxing lazy river.

The place even has a diving board for people who wants some adrenaline pumping.

Apart from waterpark facilities, the venue also hosts several events that the whole family can enjoy.

Ready to make some amazing memories with your family?

Don’t miss out on visiting Otter Cove Aquatic Center.

Catch a Show at the Historic Arcada Theater

Front View of Historic Arcada Theater
Teemu008 from Palatine, Illinois, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A trip to St. Charles is not complete without stopping by Arcada Theater.

This place opened to the public in 1926, and it can accommodate up to 1,009 people, which is around one-fifth of the entire town’s population.

It used to be a famous Vaudeville venue, but now, it houses some of the best events in the city.

The theater was revived in the early 2000s, in which work was done to modernize the sounds and light system and the stage.

Front View of Historic Arcada Theater
I, G LeTourneau, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

When you come here, check out the pipe organ that’s been here since it opened.

The shows that are usually hosted here include comedy acts and live music performances.

After catching an amazing live show, make sure to head over to Onesto’s Club.

It’s a speakeasy and restaurant where you can have delicious drinks and dinner.

Find Respite at Mount St. Mary Park

You can find some respite from walking around and sightseeing around St. Charles at Mount. St. Mary Park.

This multi-use public area features an arboretum, where you can find a myriad of different plants.

It also has several picnic areas where you and your companions can sit down and hang out.

If you want to stay active, you can try riding your skateboard at the skate park or using its several sports amenities.

Apart from these, the park also has river access and a boat launch, from which you can participate in canoeing or boating.

You can also fish in the river from this park.

Wind down and relax at Mount. St. Mary Park.

Shop for Collectibles at the Kane County Flea Market

Every first Sunday of the month, the Kane County Flea Market sets up shop, and it’s worth a visit when you’re in St. Charles.

Located at the Kane County Fairgrounds, this monthly mark has been running here since 1967.

Over 600 dealers come here to sell their wares on the market.

You can find shops here either in indoor stalls or in outdoor sheds.

Find some of the best rare collectibles or quirky souvenirs at this flea market.

The products sold here range from vintage signs, antiques, collectibles to vinyl records, and more.

Handmade products that you can use to decorate your home are usually sold here.

Take Lessons at Fine Line Creative Arts Center

Through education, research, and display of classical and cutting-edge artwork and crafts, the Fine Line Creative Arts Center of St. Charles helps artists and the rest of the community.

Its purpose is reinforced by the center's beautiful and inspiring surroundings.

It is accessible to everyone who believes that the arts provide an opportunity for education, motivation, and innovation.

They provide personalized art programs, group activities, guest artist seminars, and more in addition to their adult art lessons.

Take lessons in sewing, weaving, blacksmithing, photography, ceramics, sketching, and many other crafts.

Along with other places, it includes Sculpture on the Prairie, Kavanagh Gallery, and Fine Line Shop.

Get a Massage at Sage Healing Collective

Sage is a neighborhood spa featuring eleven individual treatment rooms, a nail salon, a partner's massage suite, a sauna, yoga classes, a shopping shop, and an apothecary.

Sage practitioners focus on holistic, hands-on healthcare, natural and outcome-driven skincare, manicures and pedicures, conventional and cosmetic acupuncture, therapeutic or relaxing massage, yoga and stretch treatments, aerial yoga, and a range of alternative healing modalities.

Massage and bodywork are among the oldest healing modalities used to promote both physical and mental well-being.

Sage uses a unique combination of traditional massage methods and contemporary devices and treatments to promote relaxation and healing.

Their estheticians wax, shape, color, and highlight your natural features with precision and skill.

Along with courses, they also provide yoga for children, teenagers, and adults.

Explore Various Activities to do at Q Center

With over 150,000 square feet of area available at Q Center, the biggest complete-service conference facility in the Midwest is suitable for gatherings and events of all kinds.

They offer a 95-acre facility with unrivaled group training possibilities and on-site recreational activities.

The 40-mile Fox River Trail is suitable for strolling, jogging, biking, and even cross-country skiing.

Practice a pleasant game of softball, basketball, or beach volleyball on any of their outdoor courts.

They provide versatile conference rooms and top-tier event development services for parties of all sizes, including skilled chefs who like creating new cuisine dishes, worldwide audio/visual technicians, and expert meeting organizers.

Unwind at one of the 1,043 guest rooms, each outfitted with all the amenities you could need after a busy, successful day.

Breakfast coffee, simple comfort cuisine, and nighttime snacks are all available at Q Center.

Ask Book Recommendations in Town House Books

Marilou Kelly established Town House Books in 1974 due to her belief that each neighborhood needed a local bookshop.

They have played a crucial role in their community by suggesting books to all types of readers.

They are an original, all-ages bookshop with helpful, cheerful staff in the historic Century Corners neighborhood of central St. Charles, Illinois.

They have a distinct ambiance that appeals to book enthusiasts.

Adult book groups are also offered; these groups meet in the bookshop on the second Sunday of each month.

The book store is accessible Monday through Saturday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Have a Lunch in La Zaza Trattoria

Dino Sisto, the company's creator and CEO describes the name "ZaZas" as a "dream-come-true" after turning it into reality in 1995.

La Zaza Trattoria is a comprehensive restaurant with dine-in, takeout, and catering service options in St. Charles, Illinois.

They provide a lounge, beverage bar, a separate dining room, and options for semi-private events.

They have an exclusive party package selection for bigger groups.

In addition, you may enjoy the seasonally open terrace there!

Have a leisurely cocktail, a light lunch, a sumptuous feast, a sizable family and friend get-together, or a professional event at La Zaza Trattoria.

Final Thoughts

Given its amazing cultural scene, interesting history, and stunning nature, it’s no wonder many visitors come to St. Charles.

Words are not enough to describe the fun and excitement you can experience when visiting the city known as “the Pride of the Fox.”

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