When it comes to trains, kids cannot seem to get enough. Why not take them on a real train adventure? With the many Metra lines and stops, we have so many places to choose from. Here are a few options of Metra train trips that the entire family will love.
Pro tip: On the weekends, grab the $10 Weekend Pass for unlimited rides on all Metra lines on Saturday and Sunday. Also, up to 3 kids (ages 11 and under) ride free with each adult.
Union Pacific Northwest
STOP: Crystal Lake
This stop at downtown Crystal Lake has plenty to keep you busy. If mom or dad needs coffee, you’re in luck. Grab a coffee to go at Grounds Coffee Bar. Hang out and relax at the super cozy Aroma Coffee and Wine where they also serve lunch, a charcuterie board, and of course, wine. More food options include breakfast or brunch at Benedict’s La Strata that also offers covered outdoor seating during the warmer months. For a yummy and innovative meal, Duke’s Alehouse won’t disappoint and for amazing deep dish around the area, Georgio’s Chicago Pizzeria can’t be beat.
Shop ‘til you drop at the boutique shops. If the kids have been good, have them pick their reward from the adorable independent toy store Marvin’s Toy Store, or make your own art at Color Me Mine. During the summer, head down here on Saturdays for their farmers market. Don’t leave without grabbing popcorn from Pop’s Corn Crib for the trip back.
Did you know the movie Groundhog Day was filmed in Woodstock? Walk in Bill Murray’s footsteps and take a walking tour. Even if you’ve never seen the movie, downtown Woodstock has plenty of things to see. Walk around the Square and gawk at the amazing Victorian architecture.
Love coffee and chocolate? You cannot miss a stop at Ethereal Confections, a true chocolate bean to bar spot. And yes, they have coffee with chocolate. Prefer tea? The whimsical Casting Whimsy will feel as if you’ve stepped inside Alice in Wonderland. The hard part will be choosing which of the handcrafted, organic teas to sip first!
During the summer, you can’t miss their Farmer’s Market located on the Square on Tuesday and Saturday. (Time it right for Storytime on the Square on Tuesdays.) Stay awhile and catch a flick at Woodstock Classic Cinemas, where all movies are $5 on Tuesdays. Peruse the super cute independent bookstore, Read Between the Lynes (and yes, they serve coffee and ice cream!) When hunger strikes, DC Cobb and its juicy burgers is calling or vegetarian food at Expressly Lesli. You can always grab yummy deli sandwiches from Caesaroni’s before heading back home.
Union Pacific North Line
STOP: Kenosha, Wis.
Looking for a little day trip out of the state? Wisconsin it is! The adventure begins once you step out of the train and walk over a few steps to the train restaurant located at the station, Choo Choo Charlie’s Shriner Diner. Watch as the train delivers you kid-approved munchies like hot dogs and burgers. (You have to try the chicken Philly).
Walk over a block or so to the free Dinosaur Discovery Museum, which any dino lover will appreciate. Keep the fun going by hopping on the authentic streetcar ($1) and stopping at any of the other museums along the line. The Kenosha Public Museum is completely free and showcases mammoths that once roamed the area. It also has an area perfect for hands-on learning. Swing by next door to the Civil War Museum to learn how the upper Midwest states fared during the Civil War. Head to their top floor where you’ll find excellent views of Lake Michigan as well as an area for more hands-on activities.
If the weather is in your favor, take time to walk along the lakefront and scope out the art sculptures, or simply take in the view of Lake Michigan and the lighthouses.
Milwaukee District North
Just hop off the station and hit the ground running. Library? Park? Ice cream? Donuts? This Glenview stop has it all. Donut lovers flock to Joe Donut for their made-from-scratch donuts (snag them early before they run out!), other goodies and strong coffee. Craving ice cream? A stop at the family favorite Glenview Dairy Bar is a must followed by Jackman Park to tire out the kids. Looking for quiet time? Hit up the Glenview Public Library.
Start off the day, by hitting up Deerfields Bakery for all the yummy treats. From there, it’s just a short walk to Jewett Park (currently under construction). With a variety of equipment for the kids of varying ages, picnic tables and bathrooms, there’s a good reason why moms rave about this park. When the weather’s frightful, head to the fun indoor playground, The Treehouse, at Jewett Park Community. End the day by perusing the shops or grabbing a cold treat at Get the Scoop or Menchie’s.
Consider Northbrook your destination for a fun day out at the park. Hop off the train and make your way to the very fun Village Green Park. Slide, swing, and run around until hunger hits. Little Louie’s is across the street offering kid favorites like burgers and hot dogs or eat classic Chicago pizza at Lou Malnati’s. End the day with a treat at Graeter’s Ice Cream.
Milwaukee District West
For a true train trip, you’ll want to take this trip to Bartlett and dine at the train restaurant, 2 Toots Train Whistle & Grill. Watch as trains chug around on the track and deliver food to you. We are fans of their grass-fed beef burgers, chili and milk shakes. 2Toots also happens to be our kids’ favorite restaurant to celebrate their birthdays (Pro tip: Sign up for their birthday club to get a free kid’s meal on birthdays!)
Walk down the street to hit up the shops at Banbury Fair where they have antiques, clothes for women and children, a candy shop and ice cream. Kids can drop by U Can Do Island to participate in crafts and fun activities. Don’t forget to step outside to say hi to their rabbits!
STOP: Downers Grove
Take a trip down to downtown Downers Grove for a fun day out. Hit the lanes and challenge each other to a classic game or two at Tivoli Bowl or sit back and relax and catch a flick at the historic one-screen Tivoli Theater.
Getting hungry? Try Cuban and Puerto Rican food from Caribbean Corner or Irish food at Ballydoyle Irish Pub. For a different experience, make reservations for afternoon tea at Pinecone Cottage Tea House.
Before jumping back on the train, grab a sweet treat at the family-owned ice cream shop, Every Day’s A Sundae, or at Ingram’s Busy Bee Bakery. You also should try small batch chocolates made from at Louisa’s and Millie’s Chocolates.
Have the kids pick something out at My Special Toy Store or treat them to a game at Fair Game (plus you can hang out and play board games here). And don’t forget a yummy treat for your favorite pup from Happy Dog Barkery! With tons of boutique shops, a bookstore, wine bar, and the library close by, you won’t find a shortage of things to do here.
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