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Entries in winter (14)


Holiday Guide 2013: 12 Things to Do Over the Christmas Break

I am taking the next week off from posting here on the website. I'll be relaxing and enjoying the holidays with my family — I hope all of you get to do the same — and I'll also be working on some very exciting changes for Go West in 2014. Stay tuned to learn more about those later this winter!

In the meantime, the Go West Calendar will be updated, and you'll probably find me publishing an occasional Facebook post or Instagram pic. And here are 12 fun, unique things your family can do over the holiday break. 

Note that this post is brought to you through the generosity of Goldfish Swim School St. Charles, one of this site's valued sponsors. See No. 8 for an easy way to check out the awesome facilities at Goldfish, which is dedicated to teaching young children to swim.

Now, without further ado:

1. Take a sleigh ride at Danada Forest Preserve in Wheaton. 

2. Or board a tractor-drawn bobsled ride around the fields and trails of Primrose Farm in St. Charles. 

3. Drive through the country out to Sycamore and see "Elf" for free on Dec. 26 at the Sycamore State Theater, or "Home Alone" on Dec. 27 through 29. 

Photo by wburris on Flickr.

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Five Great ... Things to Do Over Winter Break

Happy Holidays everyone! I've taken a bit of a blogging break while I celebrated Christmas and New Year's with my extended family, but now I'm back and thinking about how I'll entertain my daughter while she's off school for another week. We'll likely have some playdates, maybe bake some cookies we didn't get to before Christmas. And we'll likely check out at least a few of these activities. What are you doing over the winter break? Let us know in the comments section!

Photo by DailyPic on Flickr.* Attend a "Creative Family Workshop" at Nido Art Studio in Aurora. These will be held each day through Friday, Jan. 4, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The fee is $20 per family, and you'll get to play together without making a mess at home. Instructor Jen Evans will supply materials, tools, instruction and project ideas. You can register online, or call Lisa Manning at 630-730-1028 with questions.

* Bundle up for ice skating outdoors. The temps sure seem like they're getting cold enough for the outdoor rinks to operate, but please call ahead to make sure. The "City Skate" on Civic Center Plaza in downtown Elgin is on a refrigerated skating system, so that might be a good bet.

* My daughter doesn't fit the age range for this one, but Culture Stock in downtown Aurora is inviting children ages 6 to 10 to come cut beautiful snowflakes on Friday, Jan. 4, from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The cost is $6 per child and it includes supplies and a book to take home.

* We always have a great time at the "Mom & Tot Bowling" at Pinstripes in South Barrington.  The cost is $5 per kid for the session (from 10 a.m. to noon on weekdays) and moms bowl free. Pinstripes now has a location in Oak Brook, too. Of course call ahead just to make sure the session is being held. And obviously any of the local bowling alleys (or spots like Funway in Batavia) are good options, too.  

* Visit our great local libraries. The Geneva Public Library will have a drop-in craft all day on Friday. The Batavia Public Library will offer a drop-in craft from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Friday.  


Winter Guide 2013: Where to Sled, Skate, Snow Shoe - Even Snow Tube!

This is a list I've been posting and updating since 2010. If you have some suggestions to add, please place in the comments section and I'll make sure they are incorporated. Now bundle up!

Since I didn’t grow up around here, I decided to turn to Go West readers for some suggestions on great places to go sledding and ice skating. Please make sure to call the phone numbers provided to check conditions before your family heads out.


Photo by asterix611 on Flickr.The Geneva Park District has an “Outdoor Ice Complex” in Wheeler Park off Route 31. There are actually two sheets of ice there – one for general skating and one for ice hockey. Both are free to the public to use, weather permitting. Plus there is a warming shelter available from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and on school holidays. To make sure the rinks are open, call 630-232-4542.

The St. Charles Park District has outdoor ice rinks at Timber TrailsDavis Park and Langum Park, with the park at Langum reserved for ice hockey only. The rinks are open daily from until 9 p.m., weather and ice conditions permitting. You can call for updated recorded daily updates: 630-513-4320.

The city of Elgin offers an outdoor refrigerated ice rink called "City Skate." It's located on Civic Center Plaza, between the Hemmens Cultural Center and City Hall. City Skate is free; ice skate rental is available for $4 with ID but is only available when the warming shelter is open. Click here for more info or call 847-931-6140 for updates on hours and ice conditions. This is a refrigerated skating system, and it is scheduled to stay open til Feb. 23, 2013.

Wheaton has a number of ice rinks, including lighted rinks at Seven Gables, Rathje Park, C.L. Herrick Park, Kelly Park and Northside Park. There are unlighted rinks at Briar Patch Park and Hull Park. Call 630-260-6430 ex. 2 for 24-hour information about skating conditions.

The Batavia Park District maintains a skating rink on Depot Pond in downtown, near the Riverwalk. To check skating conditions and whether skate rental is available, call 630-879-5235. 

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Holiday Guide 2012: Holiday Events in November

Maybe it's because Thanksgiving comes early on the calendar this year, but the holidays sure are coming up fast! We'll be bringing you lots more info tied to the holiday season over the coming weeks, including details on places to visit with Santa, great light displays and community festivals. But here are a few November events that we wanted you to know about asap.

Photo by Mll.Ada on Flickr.AURORA: This city wins the award for helping you get into the holiday spirit the earliest! Downtown Aurora is hosting a brand-new event this year, called the "Winter Lights Holiday Walk." It is scheduled for this Friday, Nov. 16, from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. This free festival will feature arts, music, lights, complimentary refreshments and the lighting of the city's official holiday tree. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be there to help light the tree at 6 p.m. The fun will take place on Downer Place, Stolp Avenue and Galena Boulevard in downtown. Here's a link to a detailed schedule of events. 

YORKVILLE: The sixth annual Holiday Under the Stars and Fireworks Show is this Friday, Nov. 16, starting at 5 p.m. There will be visits with Santa, an all-weather skating rink, tree lighting ceremony, Kris Kringle market, live nativity and theaterical performances, too. The fireworks are Friday at 9 p.m. Some of the events will also spill over into Saturday and Sunday. Here's a poster with a detailed schedule of events. 

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Holiday Guide 2012: Polar Express Trips in Chicago's Suburbs

Sigh. Next year I'll have to do this post before Labor Day. A number of special events tied to the classic holiday story "The Polar Express" are already sold out or have wait-lists, including the Geneva and Batavia Park District events and the special trains run by the Fox Valley Trolley Museum

Below are the events that I could find that still have tickets or don't require a ticket. Also, if you're looking for a town not listed here, or a different type of Polar Express event, make sure to check out the site Santa in Chicago and its "Santa on the Polar Express" page. It's about as comprehensive as you could get. 

Photo by Pilgrim on this road - Bill Revill on Flickr.

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