The Dundee area is a quaint and charming suburb just 40 minutes Northwest of Chicago, near the Fox River. It also happens to be where I call home. And while I’ve lived here for quite some time, I know I haven’t explored the area to its fullest. So I embarked on a mission – a mission to discover all the family-friendly aspects of the area. I even reached out to a few locals to get their feedback on some of their favorites. With their help, I found a few hidden gems and some not-- so-hidden gems. I know there is still more to explore, but in the mean time, here are a few worthy finds that you can discover for yourself in Dundee.
Things to do:
One of the best ways to enjoy East Dundee and West Dundee is to run, walk or bike around the area. Walk around the downtown area or the River Walk and be amazed at the architecture, or bike along the Fox River Trail to take in magnificent views.
See Santa’s other home
Head to the Santa’s Village AZoosment Park, the Christmas-themed amusement park where memories are made. Geared towards kids ages 2-12, the family-owned-and-operated amusement park located in East Dundee unveils four new rides this season.
Little ones will be thrilled about inching up a 140 ft. tower then dropping down at 60 mph and choo choo fans will love chugging along on the Alaskan Railway. The mini coaster, Wacky Worm, will excite the youngest guests as they make their way around the track going 10 mph.
If the kiddos need a break from the rides, they can always greet the resident zoo animals including tortoises, foxes, deer and farm animals. Oh, and don’t forget to say “Hi” to the jolly old man himself – he does make an appearance to good boy and girls!
Learn about African culture
C.A.K.E. Village (Culture of Africa for Kids Everywhere) introduces a little bit of African culture to kids. Visit on select drop-in days for their special Art-is-Fun days including Visual Art Mondays, Culinary Arts Wednesdays and Performing Arts Fridays. The highlight of the cultural center is the mini play village complete with thatched huts where imaginations will run wild. Kids can pretend to pick fruit and vegetables from the village market or whip up dinner in an African restaurant.
Attend some of the town’s many events
No matter which day you visit, there’s always something happening. Visit on Motor Mondays and see cars galore or on Tail Waggin’ Tuesdays with your four-legged friend. Find a new treasure or trinket from one of the many vendors on Depot Saturday or grab fresh fruits and veggies at the Farmer’s Market on Sunday.
Whichever day you choose, it’s bound to be a family-friendly affair and an ideal way to meet new friends. All of these events happen at The Depot, the main community hub, on River Street by the converted rail depot turned visitor center. Check online for more events.
Tip: If you’re at The Depot, walk south and you’ll spot a replica of the Lincoln’s Springfield house.
Satisfy your sweet tooth
The family-owned candy shop, Around the Corner Candy, is unlike your typical candy store. In addition to chocolates, they carry nostalgic candies like flying saucers and candy cigarettes.
Their novelty items will surely give you a good chuckle. What’s even better than the selection is the price! Find inexpensive bags of candy for only a buck or pieces of candy for only a couple of pennies.
Relax and rejuvenate
Visit Radiant Heart Yoga where women, mothers and children come together to nurture the mind, body and spirit. They offer a variety of yoga classes -- fertility yoga classes, prenatal yoga, mother/baby yoga classes and tot and tyke yoga classes. Not only do they offer yoga, but they also have free support groups for breastfeeding, babywearing and attachment parenting.
Meet a few barnyard friends
For an intimate zoo experience, visit Randall Oaks Zoo where you can pet and feed animals. Greet alpacas, goats and horses, and even a few reptiles. Check their schedule because there’s usually something happening daily, such as zookeeper talks and duck feedings.
Tip: Plan to spend the day and bring a picnic lunch. When you’re done enjoy the nearby playgrounds.
Places to eat:
After you’ve worked up an appetite exploring the Dundee area, take a break and grab a bite.
We love eating at Benedict’s Eggs and More not only for the good food, but for the atmosphere. The restaurant is actually a house and you’ll feel as if you’re having breakfast with friends and family. If you can, request seats by the tree. Yes, there’s an actual tree growing through the middle of the floor and through the roof! Locals also recommend breakfast at The Manor or the breakfast pizza at The Measuring Cup.
The Village Squire seems to have a little bit of something for everyone, and if it’s BBQ you’re looking for, look no further than Blues BBQ. Need something quick? Stop by Dundee Depot Dogs Caboose Café located on the bike trail and choose one of their gourmet hot dogs.
When you’re ready for a treat you can’t go wrong with the popular Dairy Queen or even custard at Van’s Frozen Custard (they also serve amazing burgers!) located across the street from each other. If cupcakes and cakes are more of your things, head down the street to Piece-a-Cake Bakery where I’ve heard the carrot cake is to die for.
Have you visited Dundee lately?
Visit my blog, O the Places We Go, this week as we explore more of the Dundee area including chances to win tickets to Santa’s Village AZoosment Park, a candy-filled gift basket from Around the Corner Candy and even a birthday party at C.A.K.E. Village!
Cheryl Eugenio is a wife and mommy to two toddler boys and a newborn girl who are officially addicted to traveling and exploring Chicagoland and beyond.
See more of Cheryl's stories here.
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