10 Things We Love About Algonquin
Known as “The Gem of the Fox River Valley,” Algonquin’s prime location lends itself to many outdoor activities that locals and visitors have enjoyed for over a century. In fact, before it evolved into a flourishing suburb, Algonquin was considered a resort town where many city dwellers would find refuge. Today, the natural resources of the area remain a draw, while the brick-paved sidewalks of the quaint village offer a centralized gathering spot for seasonal activities and entertainment. With so many things to offer, it was hard to stop at just 10 things we love about Algonquin.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables with a Side of Ice Cream
The local farmer’s market is independently run out of hometown staple Riverbottom Coffee & Ice Cream Co. Every Sunday morning from early spring through late fall, locally grown fresh produce and canned goods are available outside the café’s Main Street location. Once you’ve picked up your fruits and veggies, satisfy your sweet tooth with some of their renowned homemade ice cream or freshly brewed coffee.
Forest Preserves Offer an Escape to Nature
Hundreds of acres of unfettered land comprise the Fox River Shores and Buffalo Park forest preserves along the Fox River. In addition to miles of trails, visitors can enjoy canoeing and fishing, as well as designated picnic areas. The rapid growth of the Algonquin area over the past few decades has made these protected lands a coveted spot for nature lovers.
A Plethora of Parks and a Pool
Several parks and a community pool allow for extra-curricular space. Cornish and Riverfront parks are both adjacent to downtown and include playgrounds, pathways, fishing areas, and views of the river. Towne Park is also near downtown and host to many of the village’s annual events. Larger in size, Holder Memorial Park has a little league diamond, football and soccer fields, a basketball court, and playground. With a small lake and creek, scenic Braewood Park is home to the area’s best sledding hill when snowflakes start flying. While closed for the 2020 season due to Covid-19 protocol, Lions Armstrong Memorial Pool is an outdoor community pool and splash pad for residents to enjoy.
Old Town Prairie Trail
Unveiled this year, the Old Town Prairie Trail and Maker’s Park project is among the most recent things we love about Algonquin. For years, the Old Town Prairie Trail has been a scenic path for both bikers and pedestrians. With the addition of a path connector, bikers, hikers, and joggers can now access downtown Algonquin and the Maker’s Park area. The connector diverts off of the trail and allows direct access to shopping and restaurants, including Scorched Earth Brewing Company – a local favorite for craft beer. A variety of amenities were added to the trail including a new pedestrian bridge, lighting, bicycle repair station, bicycle racks, and picnic tables.
A River Runs Through It
The Fox River is a major tributary of the Illinois River and runs from north to south directly through Algonquin. In addition to providing miles of scenic waterways and plenty of opportunity for recreation, there are homes nestled along the river with fantastic views and easy water access.
Historic Home of the Checkered Flag
At first glance, Algonquin’s Hill Climb Park is an expansive space that includes a playground, pavilion, and basketball court. But the location has an interesting history dating back to the early 1900s, when it was the site of some of the first car races in the country. For nearly a decade, thousands of people would take the train from the city or walk from the countryside to watch automobiles sputter up the steep hill. Local factories closed and spectators would dress up for the spectacle, deeming the best-made vehicle the first one up the hill. Today, the hill gives way to an observation clearing that lets visitors see panoramic views of Algonquin.
A Flair for the Arts
Art on the Fox Fine Art Show is held each year on Father’s Day weekend in downtown Algonquin along the banks of the river. For more than ten years the show has featured artists from across the Midwest and draws residents as well as visitors from the surrounding area. In addition to numerous booths of artwork, there are activities for children as well as live entertainment. While this year’s event was cancelled due to the pandemic, organizers expect it will be back next year. The village has also placed a year-round importance on the arts with their public art program. Pieces of local art in various mediums are featured throughout the area contributing to the picturesque flair the village streets offer.
Holidays make for festive fun in Algonquin. The Saturday before Halloween, locals dress up their canine companions for the Howl-O-Ween Dog Parade with prizes awarded for the most creative costume. This year’s event was held via Facebook with submitted photos. Fall also signals the annual Old Time Country Harvest Festival featuring an outdoor craft fair in Towne Park along with food and entertainment. Residents ring in the spirit of the holiday season with Miracle on Main, which includes a tree lighting ceremony, ice sculptures, carolers, and more. While these events have been cancelled this year, the tree lighting ceremony will be highlighted on the village Facebook page.
An annual Summer Concert Series is a highlight every Thursday night during the summer months. Local cover bands showcase a multitude of genres in Towne Park, where revelers can enjoy a variety of food trucks or bring their own picnic dinners. The last weekend in July is reserved for Founders’ Day – a celebration that brings a carnival, parade, live music, and fireworks to Algonquin.
Preserving the Old While Making Things New
A recent revitalization project in the downtown area, known to locals as Old Town Algonquin, has further enhanced the aesthetics of the streetscape. With no shortage of local dining and retail options, the pedestrian-friendly area is lively with activity. Cucina Bella, Black Bear Bistro and Short Stacks offer cuisine for any craving, while boutiques like Stone Fashion and Maggie’s on Main are a shopper’s delight. For those looking to linger a little longer in Old Town Algonquin, Victorian Rose Garden Bed & Breakfast is a charming way to experience the area.