It is a happy day in family-friendly Elmhurst. School has adjourned for the summer and throngs of children can be found in City Centre — also known as Uptown. The kids are going to the movies at York Theater, stopping in Main Street Candy & Toys and playing in the Millennium Fountain.
But Elmhurst is not just for kids. There's plenty to do here, so it is best to start early.
NuCrepes (115 W. Schiller Court, 630-577-7558, NuCrepes.com) is a tasty choice for breakfast — or lunch or a snack. It is located in City Centre, a block from the train station in a downstairs venue. The wait staff is friendly and helpful explaining the offerings. The menu includes sweet, savory, and breakfast crepes.
I take a small bite of the Campfire crepe filled with marshmallows, chocolate, graham cracker, Biscoff and dark chocolate sauce. Now s'mores will never be the same for me, because this is really amazing.
I walk down York Street and wander through a group of tweens as I pass the Classic Cinemas York Theatre (150 N. York St., 630-834-0675, classiccinemas.com/).
There are quite a few boutiques in the area and they offer a nice selection of clothing, accessories and gifts. I browse a few locations, including redE Boutique (146 N. York St., 630-834-7333, redeboutique.myshopify.com/). The store carries stylish clothing and accessories. Nearby, Hazyl Boutique (106 W. 2nd St., 630-359-3833, hazylboutique.com) is another shop for clothing, accessories and gifts. Some of the offerings include soaps made with goat milk, bath bombs and scented candles.
The Uptown Shop (129 N. York St., 630-832-9200, uptownshop.com) also has a big selection of gifts including home accessories and greeting cards. The store will wrap your gift for you.
Main Street Candy & Toys (123 N. York St, 630-415-3195, mainstreetcandyandtoys.com) is a family-owned company based in Elmhurst. The store offers make-it and take-it classes as well as a variety of toys and candy.
It is relaxing to walk through the downtown to window shop and wander in to a store to chat with the friendly retailers. Each one greeted me with a smile.
OMG! Brunch and Boutique (105 S. York Road, Suite A100, 630-501-0323, www.iluvomg.com) is a delightful spot to break for lunch. Owner Mary Moy-Gregg is on-site and sits with me to chat while l enjoy and devour my ample plate of French Toast topped with strawberries and an elegant dollop of fresh whipped cream.
Moy-Gregg, a longtime resident of Elmhurst, served in 1995 as the executive director of Elmhurst Art Museum (150 Cottage Hill Ave., 630-834-0202, elmhurstartmuseum.org/). In 2011, a year after her husband Richard passed away, Moy-Gregg said she was inspired to create a restaurant experience that would also reflect her philanthropic spirit and support of the arts. The walls of OMG! Brunch and Boutique are filled with original artwork for sale by local artists. There is a sister location OMG! Cafe, 390 W. Front St., Wheaton.
The weather is great today, so after brunch, I walk over to the Elmhurst History Museum (120 E. Park Ave., 630-833-1457, elmhursthistory.org). It is located just a block or so from City Centre and the train.
I open the door and I am greeted immediately by a group of men who are busy assembling the new exhibit "Disco Demolition: The Night Disco Died." The exhibit runs through Oct. 8.
"Many of the artifacts are from Steve Dahl's collection and from his fans as well," said Lance Tawzer, curator of exhibits.
Tawzer tells me one of the items in the exhibit is the Hamer electric guitar "made especially for Steve. He played it in the Teenage Radiation Band."
I ask if I can take a look at the guitar. My inner 16-year-old rock 'n roller is blown away as I remember cheering the cause of the Insane Coho Lips Anti-Disco Army.
History buffs may also enjoy a quick stop at the Elmhurst Post Office (154 W. Park Ave., 630-833-5375, uspspostoffices.com/il/elmhurst/elmhurst) to view a George Melville mural. This mural is called "There Was a Vision," and it depicts the early history of Elmhurst. Commissioned by the U.S. Treasury Dept.'s Section of Fine Arts, the mural was hung in the post office in 1937.
I hop back in the car as I make my way to the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art (220 S. Cottage Hill Ave, 630-833-1616, lizzadromuseum.org). It is located in Wilder Park next door to Wilder Mansion and the Wilder Park Conservatory (225 Prospect Ave., 630-993-8900, www.epd.org/facilities/wilder-park-conservatory).
The lapidary museum was founded by Joseph Lizzadro, a local electrical contractor who collected, cut and polished stones. Later he began to collect jade, amber, ivory and other carvings and gemstones. The Lizzadro Museum has exhibits on two floors and a gift shop on the lower level.
The main level features beautiful jade carvings as well as an ivory Last Supper carved in Italy in the 19th century. There is a small hands-on exhibit rock hounds of all ages will appreciate. You can press a button and a map of Illinois lights up to show where certain types of rocks, gems or minerals are found.
The Wilder Conservatory is just steps away from the Museum and it is easy to take a walk through the outdoor gardens.
As I turn a corner and walk towards a tented area, I stumble on the last thing I expected to see in a conservatory — a literal pile of 13-year-old boys are lounging in the shade like giant puppies, with arms and legs tangled across each other's backs and bellies. Their bikes are laying askew in the grass nearby and they don't notice me as they chatter happily about school and video games.
The scene truly underscores the family-friendly setting of this town.
One of the nice local features is the free Elmhurst Express Trolley (elmhursthistory.org/193/Elmhurst-Express-Trolley). It runs from noon to midnight June 2 to Sept. 16 on Fridays and Saturdays. It stops at York and Park, York and Schiller, Second and Addison, Cottage Hill and Virginia, Spring and the Illinois Prairie Path and York and Vallette.
The Illinois Prairie Path is a 62-mile path and about five miles runs through Elmhurst. It is great for biking, hiking, jogging and just enjoying nature. With the days getting longer, late afternoon is a good time to get outside and take a walk on this beautiful trail.
There are so many dinner choices, but a local recommended Roberto's (483 Spring Road, 630-279-8486, www.robertosristorante.com) for dinner because it was located so close to the Prairie Path it was easy for her to walk there and back home.
Nancy Coltun Webster is a freelance writer for the Naperville Sun.