March is just right around the corner and with it comes one of nature’s sweetest celebrations: maple syrup festivals. Did you know that it takes 30 to 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup? Learn more facts like that about this valuable commodity at fun maple syrup fests. Plus, how often can you say you’ve tried real maple syrup straight from the tree? Bring the family so they can learn all about the sweet sap. Move over Aunt Jemima, here comes the real deal!
Where: Spring Valley, 1111 E. Schaumburg Road, Schaumburg
When: March 17-18, 9 a.m. to noon
Cost: Admission is free; pre-sale tickets cost $4 for a half stack (2) and $5 for a full stack (4) and will be available at the Nature Center. Day-of prices are $5 for a half stack and $6 for a full stack.
Sweet fun: For those that haven’t been to the Sugar Bush Fair, get ready for a real sweet treat. Not only can you chow down on a breakfast complete with pancakes with maple syrup, sausage, juice and coffee, but the maple sugar-centric event will also feature demonstrations of syrup making and sap collecting methods used by early pioneers, hayrides and a children’s puppet show.
Tip: If you’re in the area, don’t forget to stop by Bison’s Bluff for more park fun.
Where: River Trail Nature Center, 3120 Milwaukee Avenue, Northbrook
When: March 17-18, 9 a.m. to noon
Sweet fun: Tree tapping begins with a little maple syrup history. During your special sugar adventure you’ll find activities to keep you busy like crafts and games.
Where: Sunset Woods Park, 1801 Sunset Road, Highland Park
When: March 11, 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m.Cost: $10
Sweet fun: Start with a little tree tapping, add in a hike through the woods, some sweet activities, and hands-on fun, and you’ve got yourself a sweet way to learn about nature’s nectar.
Where: Coral Woods Conservation Area, 7400 Somerset, Marengo
When: March 3-4 and March 10-11; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sweet fun: Not only will you learn about the cultural history of the century-old maple grove at the “Festival of the Sugar Maples,” but you’ll learn about collecting techniques, tree-tapping, sap-boiling and syrup-tasting. Tours leave every 15 minutes and lasts for an hour.
What’s better than maple syrup? How about pancakes with it? The Lions Club is hosting its annual Pancake Breakfasts from 7 a.m. to noon on March 4 and 11 at the Union Fire Protection District. Breakfast is $6 per adult and $3 per child.
Tip: Be prepared to walk about a half-mile (six city blocks) and of course, dress for the weather.
Where: Red Oak Nature Center, 2343 S. River St., Batavia
When: March 17, Ticketed times from 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Cost: Free; tickets needed.
Sweet fun: Watch a tree tapping demo and learn all about the process of making syrup. Find out how people and animals have also tapped trees. Don’t forget to grab a maple-themed snack. Have a scout group? Join in on Scout Syrup Saturday instead.
Where: North Park Village Nature Center, 5801 N. Pulaski Rd., Chicago
When: March 24; 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Cost: Free (registration not required)
Sweet fun: Watch the fascinating process of making maple syrup. From tapping the trees to boiling it down into syrup, then sampling a sweet taste. The fun doesn’t end there. Festivities also include a walk through the sugar bush (a group of sugar maples), stories and crafts.
Where: Fullersburg Woods Nature Education Center, 3609 Spring Rd., Oak Brook
When: Saturday, March 17, 2018 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Sweet fun: Join a guide as they give you a sweet 75-minute tour through the woods (with samples, of course) where you’ll find out how sap is turned into maple syrup. Tours begin every 20 minutes.