Elmhurst is a beautiful, medium-sized suburb just 30 minutes northwest of Chicago (with no traffic). My kids spend a lot of time in Elmhurst (their dad lives there), and they are always talking about fun places that they go to. On a recent school day off, I decided to let them be the tour guides, and I’d be the tourist as they showed me around some of their favorite haunts.
Located off York Road and Van Buren (close to Butterfield Road) is this charming and delightful pottery painting boutique. Because it’s set in a converted house, there is nothing fancy and stuffy about it. The warm and inviting atmosphere made me want to spend an entire afternoon there in the sunshine, just painting away. There are lots of choices of things to paint, each piece is individually priced and fired, glazed and seal afterwards so that it can be used with food. My kids have gifted me painted items from here over the last few holidays and they are always unique and beautiful. We had a wonderful afternoon painting new plates for our kitchen to replace our set of big box store matching ones, and the kids were thrilled that I painted with them. Most items are available within a week for pickup. Great for birthday parties and bridal showers. A recent bride registered for dishes here, and asked that everyone PAINT a place setting instead of buying one. How cool is that?
Located on Spring Road Close to Route 83, Kie & Kate is a catch-all boutique. This quaint store sells a little bit of everything: women’s clothing and accessories, home decor, jewelry, children’s toys and games, and tchotchkes from well-known designers as well as up-and-coming artists and designers from all over the world. In addition, there is an incredible t-shirt design studio (which is where Kate got her start in business) where people can come in and design, make or order custom shirts. Great for birthday parties and ladies nights. This store has a little bit of something in it for everyone, and tons of unique items that I’ve never seen anywhere else. I see why my girls love it so much.
Also on Spring Road is Roberto’s – a Friday night regular for my kids on weekends that they are at their dad’s. While there is a beautiful restaurant where you can eat from an expansive menu, they usually take advantage of the take-out/delivery option that Roberto’s also offers. Pizza and pastas are delivered hot, fresh and super yummy from friendly staff. Everything that my kids have selected they’ve enjoyed – but their absolute favorites are the tortellini and the spaghetti and meatballs.
Just down the street from Roberto’s, you’ll find this gem. It may seem strange to have a car wash on a fun things-to-do list, I know. My Car Wash is a traditional car wash of today in many ways, with a variety of detail packages for your car that can be done while you wait. But for $5, you can stay IN the car and drive through an old-fashioned car wash with all of the cool scrubbers and octopus like washers that kids think are fantastic and – wait for it – they HAND DRY THE CAR FOR YOU. That’s a win-win in my book.
Moving towards City Centre Shopping on York Road, we stumbled upon Goalies Goodies. Owner Debbie is a goalie for the women’s hockey team The Fighting Squirrels in Carol Stream, hence the name of the store. Custom made popcorn in amazing flavors like cheddar bacon (it’s as good as it sounds) are available, as well as traditional and nostalgic candies.
They can customize popcorn bars (think school, team or brand colors for an event), make candy trees and bouquets, and design buffets for any kind of functions. They also have gift cards available that my kids are hoping end up in their Easter baskets!
Coming up on a year in Elmhurst, this large toy store located on York Road has a wide variety of unique and non-traditional toys for children of all ages. Featuring brands like Hape, Melissa & Doug, Bruder, Green Toys, and many more, it’s not your typical toy store. They are interested in providing a more personalized shopping experience, and providing enriching and creative-thinking options for children. My girls both ended up with unique art books that I had never seen anywhere else. They offer complimentary gift-wrapping – which is always a plus! And they have a section with nostalgic candy too.
Next to the York Theater is Kilwins Elmhurst, a traditional candy shop with chocolate, caramel apples, fudge and ice cream. (Are you sensing a theme of what my kids like?) Everything is made onsite (there was a batch of caramel cooking when we walked in and OH MY GOSH did it smell amazing!). If you are looking for fat-free, nut free or gluten-free, this is NOT the place for you. I had samples of everything they would give me and I’m not sure how I made it out of there without diving in a vat of the Sea Salt Caramel ice cream. With the first store opening in 1947 in Petoskey, MI, they’ve had a long time to perfect their recipes. Other locations in the Chicagoland area include Wheaton, Geneva and Chicago-Hyde Park.
After you’ve pumped your kids full of sugar from the various sweet treat locations in Elmhurst (I wouldn’t recommend visiting them ALL in one day), you can have them jump off some of their energy at Sky Zone – an indoor trampoline park. While there are several different brands of trampoline parks in the suburbs, Sky Zone is my favorite because a) they are super strict on safety and b) there is a parent observation desk ABOVE all of the jumping courts that you can watch what your kids are doing without having to jump with them. A one hour pass is a fantastic way to burn off great energy and it’s just enough for my girls to have fun and tire them out.
For only being a town of 45,000 people there is a LOT to see and do in Elmhurst. Plus, there are a significant number of small and family-owned businesses woven into the mainstream chain stores – great for shopping local. I certainly have more exploring to do, and I can’t wait to do it with my girls.
Have you been to Elmhurst? What are your favorite places to see?