Looking for an easy getaway that’s also budget friendly? Spend a weekend exploring the Elgin area!  My family and I spent a weekend exploring all the family friendly things to do and had a blast!  In fact, we didn’t have time to do everything we wanted. Best of of all, these activities were pretty easy on the budget (many of them were free!) Ready to explore Elgin with the family? Here’s an itinerary of what to do.

Disclosure: A huge thank you to Explore Elgin for partnering up with us to help showcase all the family fun things to do in the area.

Day 1 – Santa’s Village

For a fun amusement park experience that is manageable, spend the day at Santa’s Village. Not only do they have thrilling rides and classic kiddie rides, but they’ve added a brand new waterpark! Needless to say – pack those swimsuits. Need to dry off? Say hi to the animals located all over the park or find the majority of them at Old MacDonald’s Barn. Read all about our summer visit to Santa’s Village.

Savings tip: Save $3 off tickets and purchase online with code IN21FC. You can also find coupons at Menards.

Need a sweet treat? Churros Tinoco on Rt. 25 has awesome churro creations. Seriously!


Rest easy after a fun day exploring at one of the hotels in the area. I don’t know about you, but vacations aren’t complete without a dip in the pool. The kids absolutely loved the Holiday Inn Hotel and Suites Chicago Northwest –  Elgin with their splash features and larger-than-normal pool. Here are a few more hotel options in the area. 

Don’t want to leave the hotel for food? Grab food from the downstairs at Bennigan’s. Pretty great portions! The Monte Cristo was a family favorite.

Day 2 – Elgin and South Elgin

Start your day downstairs with breakfast at the hotel restaurant. Kids will adore the mini waffles. And no, they will not want to share. (Another option close to the hotel is Alexander’s Cafe.) Parents – fuel up with coffee at any of the downtown Elgin coffee spots. I adore Viator Coffee at Dream Hall with their bottled lavender oat latte as well as their other signature lattes. Afterwards, head out bright and early to explore Lords Park. Kids will love the newly revamped playground (cool factor: you can swing while watching the bison roam around – it’s that close!), learn at the natural history museum Elgin Public Museum, and then see the farm animals and bison up close at Tofft Zoo (formerly Lord’s Park Zoo.) The zoo and playground is is free; a small fee at Elgin Public Museum (totally worth it!) (Read all about our day out at Lords Park.)

Tip: Check their schedule for all the fun free programs at the Elgin Public Museum and/or the zoo.

Getting hungry? Time for lunch in Downtown Elgin. Do you have a Dr. Who fan? A stop at Blue Box Cafe is a must. My kids don’t even watch the show but they were intrigued with the decor. This is the perfect spot to pick up sandwiches as well as a much-needed coffee pick me up.

Next up: South Elgin. SEBA Park, an all abilities park, by the Fox River is a must for the kids.  Bring your swimsuits to cool off at the new Panton Mill splash pad located a minute away by car or a quick walk if you prefer. (Read more about our playground and splashpad experience.) Have train fans? The Fox Valley Trolley is located close by too. If you have a few minutes, take time to check out the not-so-secret waterfall. 

After a quick change, spend the rest of the day at jumping away at Epic Air, a 30,000 square foot trampoline park. Because who doesn’t like jumping into a foam pit? When kids need a little break from jumping, the three-story ball blaster arena awaits. Little ones will love the toddler section with ball pits. After a day of fun we all need a sweet treat, right? If you want to try something unique, look no further than Coffee Haus on Randall Road. Try Bing Soo, Korean shaved ice with all the fixings. They have bubble tea and coffee too. After a full day of fun exploring, you’ll want to relax by the pool. Have pizza delivered to the hotel from Danny’s on Douglas for a worry-free dinner.  


Day 3 – Discover Dundee

Let’s discover Dundee, shall we? Fun with nature is always good especially when it’s at Wahoo Woods. Hop from log to log, enjoy the Library Springs trail, swing on tire swing, explore the Curiosity Shed, or get dirty with nature.  Still have more energy?  There’s always the super cool Lions Park in Dundee or head to Huffman Park’s splash pad on a steamy day. Another fun option for the entire family is Underground Retrocade, an old school arcade with classic games like Galaga, pinball machines, or Skee-ball. Pay the whole day for one price!  (Read all about our visit to Underground Retrocade.)

When hunger strikes, plenty of choices are within walking distance. Our pizza-lovin’ family loves Woodfire Pizza located a few stores down from Underground Retrocade. SO SO good! Dessert time? Make a beeline to Van’s Custard where they not only have the best custard around but delicious burgers, too. Another sweet stop is the adorable Around the Corner Candy. I love the $1 candy bags. Enjoy said candies while taking in the views of the Fox River. 


Other things to do with the family in the Elgin area

Remember when I said there was too much to do in the area? Here’s a few more ideas for you and the family.

  • Enjoy the day at Randall Oaks Park. They have 3 (yes three!) playgrounds, disc golf, and a cute little zoo. Their newly renovated hidden park is so much fun!
  • Go on an art walk through Downtown Elgin with cool murals and sculptures. The fun also includes a stop at the super fun playground and splash pad at Festival Park.
  • Grab your bikes and explore the Fox River Trail. You can see many of the murals and sculptures in Downtown Elgin.
  • Explore Bartlett! Kids will love having their lunch brought to them by train. A couple playgrounds to check out include Free to Be Me playground as well as Blue Heron Park. Read all about our day out in Bartlett.

Did I miss any of your favorite things to do in the Elgin area?

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