'Bundle up, get outdoors and explore' is slowly
becoming my wintertime mantra. While I don't necessarily enjoy the
chilly weather, my kids love being outdoors any time of the year.
And when dressed properly, being outdoors is a joy, even in the
dead of winter. Fullersburg Woods in Oakbrook is a great spot to
set off on a late-fall/early winter hike and this past weekend our
family headed outdoors to explore both the woods and the
Fullersburg Vistor Center.
Park your car near the Graue Mill and
Museum in Oakbrook, just off York Road. Since
1852, the Graue Mill has been grinding cornmeal, its waterwheel
turning at the edge of the picturesque Salt Creek. Today, the Graue
Mill Museum is dedicated to bridging past and present through
living-history programs that illustrate daily life of the past,
including milling, spinning and weaving demonstrations. While the
museum is closed in the winter, the grounds of the mill are
picture-perfect year round. My kids spent a long time just throwing
pebbles and rocks into the Salt Creek and watching sticks make
their way down the beautiful falls the make the mill's gristmill go
Follow the short hiking trail which links the Graue
Mill to the Fullersburg Visitor Center. This paved hiking trail was
easy enough for my 4-year-old to hike all on her own.
The Fullersburg Nature Center, located at the end
of the trail, is an engaging, interactive mini-nature museum. Kids
can get up close and personal with the actual 13,000-year-old
skeleton of a wooly mammoth discovered in DuPage County, use
microscopes to see microscopic creatures living in the woods and
the creek and make animal tracks with stamps in putty that they can
later identify in the mud and snow of the woods. My kids love
climbing the wooden kid-sized bird nest. The center is cozy and
usually quiet, making it a great place to curl up on a comfy chair
with one of the many children's nature-themed books.
This upcoming weekend, November 15, 16, and 17, the
Graue Mill will be open for its annual Christmas
at the Mill Holiday Boutique. This special holiday
shopping event features local artists selling handcrafted Christmas
decorations, unique jewelry, stained glass, pottery, and handwoven
and knitted items. Decorated Christmas trees and strolling carolers
add to the fun and even Santa will make an appearance on Saturday
and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Amy Bizzarri is a writer, Chicago public school teacher and mom to two kids - a preschooler and a middle schooler - living in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago.
See more of Amy's stories here.
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