It’s time to turn off your phone, peel yourself away from your latest Netflix binge and get back to nature. The beautiful Fox River weaves through Aurora, and there’s no better way to explore the Fox River Valley than via the Fox River Trail! This five-star trail runs along nearly 45 miles of winding river and serves as the perfect eco-friendly highway to visit area sites that are favorites among outdoor-loving locals. You can bring your own bike or considering renting one through the Fox Valley Koloni bike share program. If driving is more your speed, parking is free at each stop.
On your first day, fuel up with complimentary breakfast at the hotel before you hit the trail. Your first stop is Red Oak Nature Center. This 40-acre forest is located on the east side of the river in North Aurora. Stop into the Wildlife Room first to learn about the creatures you might spot during your adventures. Then, wander the wood-chip hiking trails and see if you can find Chicagoland’s only known cave!
Next, head north to Batavia for its vast Farmers Market on Saturday mornings. From late May through October, the market comes alive on the award-winning River Street woonerf. (If you visit in the cooler months, you’ll want to stop in the indoor market at 160 First Street.) Shop for local produce, enjoy live music and, if you time your visit right, you can even pick up stunning handmade goods at the once-a-month Artisan Collective. Spend your afternoon exploring the Batavia riverwalk, viewing the historic windmills, visiting the Batavia Depot Museum and checking out the “tiny house” Boardwalk Shops.
By now, you’ve earned an indulgent dinner, and no one can fill you up like Harner’s Bakery and Restaurant. Family-owned and operated since 1960, Harner’s sits right at the river’s edge in North Aurora and serves up favorites like batter-dipped fried chicken, coated with its own special blend of seasoned batter and then cooked under pressure. Just be sure to save room for dessert – there’s a reason this place has “bakery” in its name!
Day 1 kept you on the move, so today, you can slow down and contemplate. First, you’ll want to bike or drive to Nosh, located on Third Street in Geneva, to fuel up with a fantastic brunch. With a menu sure to please anyone in your group, breakfast and lunch options are as varied as avocado toast, strawberry and Nutella crepes, and bacon gravy poutine.
After brunch, head south to visit the unique shops along the brick-paved Third Street shopping district. From apparel and antiques to home goods and one-of-a-kind finds, this is a shopping experience not to be missed. Before you leave, grab a sweet treat from local favorite Graham’s Fine Chocolates & Ice Cream or the All Chocolate Kitchen, featuring life-size chocolate sculptures from world-renowned chef, three-time Guinness World Record holder and owner Alain Roby.
Your final destination is the Fabyan Japanese Garden, open Wednesday and Sunday afternoons, May through September. Located just off the Fox River Trail south of downtown Geneva, the garden was built on the west shore of the Fox River in 1910 by George and Nelle Fabyan as a complement to the villa on their property. (Learn more about the site’s history in the Fabyan Villa Museum.) Download the guide to deepen your experience as you walk the mulch and gravel paths of the garden and contemplate its features.
Now you’re ready to return to the hustle and bustle of daily life, with lungs full of fresh air, a belly full of incredible food — and a mind at peace.
Start planning your trip to the Chicago, Naperville and Aurora area... book your perfect hotel stay today with Hampton Inn & Suites Aurora!
The hotel offers elegantly decorated, comfortable accommodations to suit every visitor’s need. For a romantic getaway for two, consider the King Suite with bar sink and under-counter refrigerator, or choose the Kids Suite for the family, complete with bunkbeds and a Playstation 4! The indoor pool, whirlpool and kiddie pool will please everyone, as will the delicious breakfast “on the house.” No time to sit for breakfast? No problem – the friendly front desk staff has you covered with “on-the-run” breakfast bags to take with you.
For those who are traveling to and from “the other big city” in Illinois, the hotel is conveniently located close to I-88 with easy access to Chicago.