An enchanted holiday getaway in the Aurora Area of Illinois
Posted on 10/27/2021 by James Cardis
Home to miles of magical holiday light displays, the Aurora Area is an outstanding holiday destination for shopping, dining, and entertainment with family and friends.
Left: The Second City, Chicago's famous Improv troupe. Right: Mikayla Renfrow as Cinderella in advance press photos (Tom King).
Naughty or nice? Whichever way you choose your holiday entertainment, Paramount Theatre has an option for you. The award-winning Broadway Series kicks off its 10th annual season with Cinderella, a beloved musical transformed into a mesmerizing new production that brings a reimagined take on the classic children’s story that has enchanted audiences for generations. Across Galena Boulevard at the newly renovated Copley Theatre, Paramount’s annual presentation of The Second City Holiday Revue delivers a heaping serving of seasonal satire with “It’s A Wild, Wacky, Wonderful Life,” a side-splitting, song-filled holiday spectacular.
For tickets and more information about upcoming shows at Paramount Theatre and Copley Theatre, visit paramountaurora.com.
Holiday lights make spirits bright in the Aurora Area
Panorama of holiday lights at Phillips Park for Rotary Club of Aurora Festival of Lights
Feel the symphony of sight and sound at Let It Shine, a drive-through light show new to Fox Valley Mall in Aurora this holiday season. Be immersed in a wonderland of over a million individual lights, all synchronized to festive holiday classics. At Phillips Park, the Rotary Club of Aurora’s Festival of Lights is a holiday tradition for locals and visitors alike, and one of the largest free outdoor holiday light displays in northern Illinois. Spot animated marvels like the 20-foot tall “singing” Christmas tree and see Santa’s Toy Factory in action! With over 80 displays over two magical miles, the Holiday Lights at Mooseheart are another fantastic journey for friends and family to enjoy, with a creative array of holiday lights arranged along a winding drive.
The Aurora Area CVB offers schedules and more details about how to take a driving tour of holiday lights in the region at enjoyaurora.com/holidaylights.
Take a step back in time at these holiday destinations
Holiday Express at Blackberry Farm in the snow.
All aboard the Holiday Express at Blackberry Farm, a magical experience just like visiting the North Pole! Blackberry Farm transforms into a winter wonderland for the holiday season amid thousands of twinkling lights and festive decorations. Take a ride on the Holiday Express train, a scenic tour around Blackberry Farm’s scenic Lake Gregory, and enjoy a hay-wagon ride around the property. For more information about the Holiday Express at Blackberry Farm, visit blackberryfarm.info/holiday-express/.
A family tradition since 1949, Christmas at Abbey Farms is “the most wonderful time of year!” Join in the tradition of hunting for Abbey Farms Christmas trees, picking out a handmade Fir wreath, and visit with Santa inside the Nagel Farmstand Emporium, where you can also find Abbey Farms’ famous apple cider donuts and tasty hot chocolate. Learn more about holiday activities at Abbey Farms at abbeyfarms.org/christmas-joy/.
Holiday decor at Farnsworth House
The iconic Farnsworth House will be dressed up for the holidays in mid-century color and kitsch for mod & merry Holiday House Tours. Take a drive through the snowy countryside to this unique attraction in Plano, Illinois, and enjoy a last look at Edith Farnsworth Reconsidered, a re-furnishing of the house to reflect the spirit and sensibilities of its original owner, Dr. Edith Farnsworth.
Holiday shopping at Chicago Premium Outlets and Fox Valley Mall
Christmas tree in Center Park at Fox Valley Mall
Enjoy exclusive deals on designer goods and apparel at Chicago Premium Outlets, the largest outdoor outlet mall in Chicagoland with over 160 outlet shops, including the only regional Restoration Hardware outlet. Famous for its vintage carousel decked out in a festive holiday theme, Fox Valley Mall hosts visits with Santa in the new Center Park throughout the holiday season. At the mall, find fun and games at Round 1 Entertainment Center, a unique maze experience at Mish Mash Adventures, and nightly stand-up and improv at the new Comedy Shrine theater.
Find the perfect gift for everyone on your list when you shop boutiques & specialty shops in the charming downtowns of the Aurora Area.
Parade float at Winter Lights, downtown Aurora's holiday celebration.
In downtown Aurora, visit Wyckwood House for locally designed and curated products in an elegant, upscale space (note: Wyckwood will be moving to 80 S. River Street in early 2022). The Aurora Regional Fire Museum and David L. Pierce Art & History Center are where you can experience the history of Aurora and the region, and both offer gift shops full of locally focused gifts. Shop Christmas trees and a variety of beautiful indoor plants at Branch Gardens, then browse a curated collection of vintage and antiques at Warehouse 55. Visit the new French 75, an art gallery and lounge with an outstanding cocktail program featuring signature drinks inspired by local lore. At Yetee Station, enjoy a retro gaming experience with a fun collection of vintage arcade titles in a newly renovated setting in downtown Aurora. Celebrate the holidays with events in downtown Aurora like the Winter Lights Aurora (Friday, November 19th) and the First Fridays Cocoa Crawl (Friday, December 3rd).
Shoppers at Hearth & Hammer General in Batavia, Illinois.
Stop by downtown Batavia for literary candles and gifts at Hearth & Hammer General, a modern neighborhood candle making studio and general store recognized for its dedication to craft by the Illinois Office of Tourism as part of its Illinois Made program. Visit another Illinois Made destination for lunch or dinner at Hardware, a sustainable gastropub and craft brewery in North Aurora with an on-site hop farm, orchard, and greenhouse. Enjoy responsibly sourced coffee and Ugandan inspired cafe food at Endiro Coffee, a certified B Corp and Illinois Made destination, then shop and snack on Chicagoland's finest encased meats at Wurst Kitchen, one of the region's first recognized Illinois Made locations.
"Shop Local" sign outside Happenstance Goods in Downtown Oswego, Illinois
Give the gift of award winning Illinois wines from Fox Valley Winery in Oswego. The winery’s new location is in the heart of Oswego’s downtown shopping district, where you can browse an eclectic collection of boutiques and specialty shops, and top off your day with dinner and drinks at new eateries 113 Main and La Marimba. Oswego downtown shops like Hudson Design House and Stonehouse Market host an open house preview of holiday goods the first weekend in November, and participate in downtown events including the Oswego Christmas Walk and Holiday Drive-Through, set for December 3rd through 10th.
Arella Swan (@YourFaveFashionBlogger) at Olde Farm Creek in Yorkville, Illinois
Highlighted in last year's Holiday Gift Guide, Yorkville's Olde Farm Creek is a family-run country market where you can find everything from vintage farmhouse and industrial decor to seasonal favorites like farm-fresh eggs, locally made honey, and a Christmas tree farm. Yorkville is home to several entries in our Dinner & A Show dining guide, including Hacienda Real and Mandrake Small Plates & Libations, while its vibrant riverside downtown is where you can enjoy a unique nightlife destination at The Law Office Pub & Music Hall, a favored tour stop for the rising stars of the indie country music scene. Celebrate the kick-off to the holidays with Yorkville's Holiday Celebration Weekend, two days of family-friendly events and festivities including fireworks over the Fox River!
More fun ways to enjoy the holidays
Santas on display at More Polish Pottery in Big Rock, Illinois
Discover heartland charm at More Polish Pottery, a "field of dreams" where first-rate Polish ceramics are sold out of a delightfully rustic retail setting in Big Rock, Illinois. Here you can stock up on ornaments, gifts, home decoration, and cookware sourced direct from Polish artisans by owner Rebecca Gengler. Learn more about Rebecca and More Polish Pottery at morepolishpottery.com.
Chicago blues bandleader Lurrie Bell plays at The Venue in downtown Aurora, Illinois
Looking for more nightlife? Concerts at The Venue bring the finest musicians from throughout Chicagoland and beyond to this 200-seat listening room and concert hall in downtown Aurora. Find the full lineup of shows at themusicvenue.org.
Take a self-guided craft beer tour of the Aurora Area, beginning at Two Brothers Roundhouse, where the big, bold flavors of Two Brothers Artisan Brewing & Spirits are housed in a historic limestone structure just steps from the terminus of Metra's Burlington Northern Santa Fe line.
Keep an eye on our events calendar at enjoyaurora.com/Events for more fun things to do throughout the region for the holidays.
Pair your holiday getaway with an overnight stay at Aurora Area hotels
The Aurora Area of Illinois is home to friendly, affordable lodging options at brand-name hotels throughout the region, from the newly renovated Best Western Oswego to upscale all-suite accommodations at Homewood Suites by Hilton on Route 59 near Pacifica Square. The Holiday Inn Express & Suites Aurora/Naperville is just steps away from Two Brothers Roundhouse and Paramount Theatre in downtown Aurora. Discover our full inventory of hotel listings at enjoyaurora.com/Stay.
Get our Go Guide, the official travel publication of the communities of the Aurora Area in Illinois at enjoyaurora.com/VisitorsGuide.