Would you like to make supporting “Small Business Saturday” a family affair? Start showing your kids the importance of shopping local while they’re young with this family-friendly itinerary around vibrant and historic Downtown Elgin.
GETTING HERE: Elgin is located about 40 miles northwest of downtown Chicago, and sits along the banks of the Fox River. Elgin is served by the Metra’s Milwaukee District West line, and the main “Elgin” stop is located on Chicago Street, just a few blocks walk from most of the spots listed here.
HISTORY: Elgin was founded in 1835 and is now home to more than 112,000 people, making it one of the largest cities in Illinois. It was home to the Elgin Watch Company (you can still see “Elgin” clocks in Chicago’s Union Station, as well as on the Tower Building in Downtown Elgin) and the city is known for its historic architecture and many beautiful homes from the Victorian era. It has five historic districts, including several within walking distance of downtown.
Whatnots & Whimsies
WHERE TO SHOP: More than 45 local businesses and restaurants are participating in Small Business Saturday. You can head to Elgin Antiques & Uniques, State Street Market Shops or Whatnots & Whimsies to introduce your children to some of the treasures of yesteryear and get them excited about all things vintage. At Rediscover Records, they can see (and hear) real live LPs – and learn about life before music was stored in “the Cloud.” And at Elgin Books & Coffee, your family can shop for the perfect book for everyone on your list.
WHERE TO SNACK: Stop one of Downtown Elgin’s locally owned coffee shops, such as the Blue Box Café, Domani Café or Arabica Café for a pick-me-up drink or pastry. Children will love the popcorn at Mama Lee’s Gourmet Popcorn and the spectacle involved in the creation of the ice cream at Fanny’s Thai Roll Ice Cream.
Gail Borden Public Library
WHERE TO PLAY: Once your kids are all shopped out, you can head to the Gail Borden Public Library’s impressive main branch and check out the temporary and free exhibit “Build It! With LEGO Bricks” featuring hands-on programs, giant character photo-ops and an exhibit of famous landmarks built from … you guessed it … LEGOs! The Youth Center features an aquarium, a daily craft, a great open play area and beautiful views of the Fox River. The library will also be selling a variety of gently used books, games and movies at fantastic prices. Or, for a unique winter-time activity, check out City Skate, a refrigerated outdoor ice rink located between the Hemmens Cultural Arts Center and Elgin City Hall. During hours when the warming shelter is open, skate rental is available for $4.
Fanny’s Thai Roll Ice Cream
WHERE TO EAT: Downtown Elgin offers a number of casual, family-friendly choices for a meal, including pub food at Elgin Public House, authentic Thai cuisine at Toom Toom Thai, pizza at Danny’s on Douglas or Bricks Wood Fired Pizza, gourmet hot dogs at Legit Dogs & Ice, and several Mexican restaurants including El Faro and Las Gorditas de Don Angel. Check this list for Small Business Saturday specials and other restaurant choices, too.
WHEN TO COME BACK: Anytime during the holiday season! Your family will find a downtown decorated for the holidays along a riverfront full of history and charm, and a range of restaurants and shops offering unique experiences you won’t be able to replicate online. Be sure to make plans to attend Downtown Elgin’s Winter Wonderland on December 1, a free celebration of the holiday season offering live music, entertainment, an indoor market, food trucks, carriage rides, pictures with Santa and much more.
Thank You to Our Guest Blog Writer, Tara Burghart.