Fun for everyone in Greater St. Charles, IL
Greater St. Charles, Illinois loves families. And boy, do families love Greater St. Charles, Illinois. In fact,Family Circle named St. Charles #1 in its 2011 Annual Survey of Best Towns and Cities for families. This charming town's reputation as a family-friendly destination is still going strong! If you are looking for an affordable, action-packed, family-focused destination for your next getaway, take a closer look at this Midwestern gem.
St. Charles is located less than an hour away from downtown Chicago. Despite its proximity to this major city, St. Charles is worlds away from the hustle and bustle of urban living. St. Charles offers a unique combination of rich historical and cultural opportunities combined with a friendly, small-town attitude. Visitors can enjoy stunning architecture and high-quality dining options, along with numerous shopping opportunities (particularly for those in the market for antiques). In addition, outdoor recreation options include biking trails and quiet parks along the scenic Fox River and there are plenty of places for a comfortable overnight stay.
And then of course there are all of the festivals! The folks in St. Charles really know how to throw a party. The spring, summer and fall months are "festival season" for St. Charles and the surrounding communities. These action-packed festivals are yet another draw for this already family-focused Chicago suburb. Nearly every weekend, you will find a family festival or a fun activity or event.
Our family always looks forward to heading to St. Charles to take advantage of this small-town community packed with big-time fun. Here are some of our favorite events and must-see destinations in St. Charles.
The best in family-friendly fests
Many small towns host an occasional community festival or event. But St. Charles, IL is known for throwing well-planned and executed events several times each year. And these events all focus on family fun!
This year is particularly special because 2015 marks the 30th anniversary of the Scarecrow Fest. Scheduled for October 9-11, 2015, this award-winning festival focuses on building lasting memories for attendees. In fact, Fodor's just named Scarecrow Fest one of the 15 best small-town festivals in America. Note that admission, parking, trolleys and shuttles are all free, making this an affordable option for all families.
The heart and soul of the event is the 100+ handmade scarecrows. Every visitor can cast a vote and help select the winners in six different categories. Other festival highlights include a soda pop tour, craft show, petting zoo, and live entertainment. Visitors can even make their own scarecrows to take home as a souvenir. Generations of families come together for this festive fall event each year.
If you can't make it to the Scarecrow Festival in October, there are plenty of ways to join in the fun in the months leading up to the big celebration. In honor of the 30th anniversary of Scarecrow Fest, a couple of local businesses are offering Year of the Scarecrow flavors on their menus. Smallcakes is making special carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, and Kimmer's Ice Cream offers pumpkin ice cream with caramel ribbons and pecans. Plus organizations in St. Charles are hosting scarecrow-themed events throughout the year for all ages and interests. Highlights include:
Let's Make a Scarecrow Quilt, which encourages visitors and residents to contribute a scarecrow-themed quilt panel anytime in April and May. The panels will be sewn together and auctioned to benefit Lurie's Children's Hospital. The Cow Goes Moo and Scarecrows Too, occurring on Saturdays in April and early May, offers parents and toddlers an introduction to farm animals and their scarecrow friends. The Green Thumb Garden Tour in late May gives everyone great gardening tips plus history on how the scarecrow came to be! A Scarecrow Stuff It Event ushers in springtime with scarecrow-stuffing fun for the whole family. Scarecrow Kite Fly in late April brings a new twist to the annual Kite Flyâ€”scarecrows will take to the skies alongside the Fox River. The Kids' Dog Show in early May features the new category Best Scarecrow Dog Costume. Who could resist entering their pet with that fun twist?
Another time-honored festival in St. Charles is RiverFest,. Held from June 11-14, 2015, RiverFest includes sand sculpture building, live music, water ski shows, dragon boat races on the Fox River, a carnival and much more. Mark your calendars for a special family night offering entertainment and activities geared specifically towards children. Plan for an overnight stay if you want to take part for more than a day!
The annual Kane County Fair, held from July 15-19, 2015, offers five days of action-packed fun. Visitors can enjoy everything from bull riding demos and pig races to carnival rides and talent shows on the sprawling Kane County Fairgrounds.
On August 15-16, 2015, lovers of all things equine can partake in the Festival of the Horse & Drum. This one-of-a-kind, multi-cultural, multi-media equestrian event will entertain and educate the whole family. The event explores the relationship between horse and human through film, music, dance and other demonstrations.
My kids love anything musical, so they're huge fans of the Concerts in the Park. This annual summer event is held on Thursday evenings at 7pm at the Lincoln Park gazebo in June, July and August. Each concert features a different musician or band, and the kids love stretching out on blankets by the gazebo.
Finally, no family trip to St. Charles would be complete without a stop at The Arcada Theatre. This charming and historic hometown theatre has showcased the best in live entertainment for generations of families living in the Chicago area. Since opening its doors on Main Street in 1926, The Arcada Theatre has evolved from showing silent films and vaudeville theatre to hosting notable performers such as Dionne Warwick and Martin Short. I'll be taking my family to theBronx Wanderers Mother's Day Sock Hop for sure, and keeping a close eye on upcoming shows that my kids would enjoy.
Ready to start planning your family trip to St. Charles? Good! We'll look forward to seeing you there. St. Charles has such an incredible variety of family-friendly festivals and events coming up, we don't want to miss a thing!
Check out all of the exciting upcoming events in St. Charles, IL.
Caitlin Murray Giles is a freelance writer and mother of three living in the Chicago area.