Four places to fall in love with maple syrup

Maple Syrup Festival at North Park Village Nature Center

By Elizabeth Diffin

Senior Editor

'Tis the season for maple syrup-and lots of it. Sap is on the rise this month, and with it comes lots of syruping events for Chicago-area families. Here are a few to check out (start mixing the pancake batter now!).

MapleFest. Did you know even woodpeckers collect sap from trees? Discover how people and animals have tapped trees for sap. Maple-themed snacks and hot beverages available for purchase. Free. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. March 15. Red Oak Nature Center, 2343 S. River St., Batavia. (630) 897-1808,

Sugar Bush Fair. Bring your appetite to this one, which features a pancake breakfast, demos of maple syrup production, a pioneer sugar camp and children's puppet show. Plus, a wagon transports you to the event area! Free; breakfast is $5 for full stack of pancakes and $4 for half stack. 9 a.m.-noon. March 15-16. Spring Valley Nature Center & Heritage Farm, 1111 E. Schaumburg Road, Schaumburg. (847) 985-2100,

Maple Syrup Festival. Take a walk through the sugar bush, enjoy storytelling, make a maple craft, warm up by the fire, and taste real maple syrup. Pancakes available for purchase. Free. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. March 22. North Park Village Nature Center, 5801 N. Pulaski Road, Chicago. (312) 744-5472,

Pioneer Fest and Pancake Breakfast. Enjoy maple syrup-making demonstrations and try doing some pioneer chores alongside pioneer re-enactors. And once you've worked up an appetite, there are pancakes, sausage and pure maple syrup to try. $9, $7 kids under 12. 8 a.m.-noon. March 22-23. Pilcher Park Nature Center, 2501 Highland Park Drive, Joliet. (815) 741-7277,


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