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South Elgin, Illinois, is located about an hour outside of Chicago in a car or on the Metra train. The city is popular for young families and commuters and has a host of restaurants and shopping areas for people of all ages.
When you’re looking for things to do with your family on a rainy Saturday or during the beautiful spring and summer months, we’ve created a list of a few of our favorite family-friendly activities near South Elgin.
365 S La Fox St, South Elgin, IL 60177
The Fox River Trolley Museum offers your family a unique opportunity to view vintage trolley cars from as far back as the 19th and early 20th centuries that once operated in the area. The museum was first opened as the Relic Trolley Museum in 1966 on Independence Day and continues to educate the public about the history of this form of transportation. Kids will love viewing the old cars from both the exterior and interior.
The museum is free to enter, but fees apply if you want to take a trolley ride. The museum is closed on weekdays and open from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm on weekends and is generally not open in the winter months except for special events.
1851 S IL Route 59, Bartlett, IL 60103-3008
The BAPS Shiri Swaminarayan Mandir is a stunning Hindu place of worship. The location of this Mandir is in Bartlett, Illinois, not far from South Elgin. View the beautiful hand-carved marble and limestone that this structure is made of in a peaceful setting that is the perfect outing for the whole family. This Mandir is the largest in Illinois, and the grounds are over 27 acres.
The haveli on the property is a cultural center with a bookstore, with weekly services. There’s also an exhibition entitled Understanding Hindu Dharma, which discusses the history of Hinduism, which you and your family will want to view during your visit.
This unique site is open to visitors every day from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm. Note that visitors cannot wear sleeveless tops, shorts, or short skirts, and shoe removal is mandatory before entering the Mandir buildings. Cell phone use is prohibited inside the Mandir as well. Free parking is available on the premises.
270 N Grove Ave, Elgin, IL 60120
A community library is always an excellent resource for people of all ages. Bring your family to the Gail Borden Public Library in a beautiful modern structure that overlooks the Fox River in Elgin. Browse the wide selection of children’s books, nonfiction, fiction, poetry, audiobooks, and ebooks the library offers, or visit the location for classes and events, including concerts, film screenings, and community meetings. You can also vote at the library if it’s in your district.
There are many events just for kids at the library, including science and sewing classes, homework help, and dance parties, among others.
The main branch of the Gail Borden Library is open Monday through Thursday from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm, Friday and Saturday from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, and Sunday from noon to 5:00 pm.
360 Park St, Elgin, IL 60120
The Elgin History Museum provides locals a glimpse into the city’s rich history. The Elgin Area Historical Society manages the museum, founded in 1961. The museum location is in a building constructed in 1856 that was part of the Elgin Academy at the time and designed in the style of Greek Revival with distinct front columns.
The museum houses both permanent and rotating exhibits, including Elgin: From River to Rails, Elgin: 20th Century, Made in Elgin, the Elgin National Watch Company room, and many more. There are also many events held in the space, including tours, readings, discussions, benefits, and the annual Bluff City Cemetery Walk, a tradition that started in 1987. There are also car shows held outside of the museum, further engaging the community with the city’s heritage.
The museum is open year-round from Wednesday through Saturday from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. Admission is $3.00 for adults, $1.00 for students, and free for Elgin History Museum members or kids under age 5.
1180 Randall Rd, West Dundee, IL
Just a short drive from South Elgin is the Randall Oaks Zoo in West Dundee. This zoo gives families and children a chance to pet and feeds many different kinds of farm animals, and you can walk through the barn to meet goals, alpacas, mini horses, cows, sheep, deer, rabbits, chickens, pigs, emus, and many more. There are also rare birds in the zoo, including peacocks and great horned owls. Take a pony ride for just $5.00 or feed the animals with $1.00/cup animal feed.
The area surrounding the zoo is 141 acres that includes picnic areas, volleyball courts, a disc golf course, and a few playgrounds so that you can stay at Randall Oaks Park all day long with the family. There are also group activities held on the premises, including hayrides and tours, depending on the season.
The zoo is closed during the winter, from late December through early April, and then it’s open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, and weekends only between Halloween and mid-December. The zoo is $3.75 for residents, $4.50 for non-residents, and children under the age of one are free.
These are just a few of the many activities available for families in the South Elgin area of Illinois. The region comes alive in spring and summer, with the nearby Fox River and many nature preserves offering great ways to connect with wildlife and with each other.