Things to Do in Fantastic St. Charles, Illinois

Sometimes, it is the surprise finds that make you smile and give you that warm feeling, and while you are there, it feels like coming home. St. Charles, Illinois, located just 35 miles west of Chicago, is a vibrant town that took us by surprise with everything that there is to do. One of those places that captured us with historic charm, beautiful architecture, and abundant green spaces, did I get you at green spaces? They have 62 parks, which I consider pretty impressive. Here are our favorite things to do in St. Charles, Illinois, with kids. Full Disclosure: St. Charles Business Alliance hosted us.

Bike Trails in St. Charles Park District

You might say I was blown away at the picture-perfect bike trails crisscrossing through St. Charles, and I am not quite sure I can paint you a picture with words that will do justice to them. We rented E-bikes from Sammy’s Bike Rental, a locally owned shop with everything you need to get out on the bike trails. 

Pro-tip: E-bikes are the way to go! You still have to bike, but you get a bit of assistance, and you cover more distance.

We took the Fox River Trail for our biking day trip, which gave us everything we could want. City views of the river, access to downtown, and lush wooded scenery in the coolness of the woods.

Places to explore on the Fox River Bike Trail

Norris Woods Nature Preserve

See the Historic homes

Pottawatomie Park 

Fabyan Windmill

Explore Downtown St. Charles

Read about the best biking trail in Gulf Shore State Park, Alabama

Enjoy a Day at Pottawatomie Park

If you ask a local, they will tell you Pottawatomie Park is the best park in town. Located on the Fox River, this picturesque park has something for everyone. A little history, a lot of fun, and views for miles!

What can you do at Pottawatomie Park? 

  • River View Mini-golf: an 18 Hole mini golf that offers stunning views of the Fox River while you play. Be careful; those views might distract you from winning.
  • Swanson Pool: You can find something for everyone at Swanson Pool. For the adventure seeker, drop-off water slides will thrill, zero-entry access for the smallest of the crew, a sand play area for big kids and little kids, and a snack bar for mom!
  • Paddlewheel fun: In the summer, rent a paddleboat for a spin out on the Fox River.
  • Put your feet in the water and cool off.
  • Climb the steps of the pavilion for breathtaking views of the Fox River.
  • Set the kids free in one of the fantastic playgrounds.

Take a Paddlewheel Riverboat Ride Down the Fox River

The midwest is a great place to find replicas of historic riverboats, and St. Charles has offered rides down the river for over 70 years. In the 1940s, Chet Anderson purchased a small boat and began giving tours. A few boats later and generations of fun have been had. In 2018, the St. Charles Park District bought the business and is now honored to be the caretaker of this time-honored tradition.

Book your trip on the Fox River Queen, who will take you down the river to share the beauty of the river and give you an oral history of the land. Of course, we sat up top to have the best views and the cool breeze.

Public cruises occur three times a day on the weekends and once a day, Tuesday through Sunday; check the website for up-to-date information. Paddlewheel Riverboats

Pro-tips: Dress for the weather, buy a snack on board, and arrive early to get the seat you want

Best Places to Eat in Saint Charles, Illinois

If there is one thing to be said about St. Charles, they have a fantastic food scene! After a day of sightseeing and e-biking, you’re sure to be hungry, and St. Charles can satisfy your food longings. 

Brunch Cafe Breakfast lovers will enjoy every bite here! I loved the tea selection; look at the photos to see why. The family loved this place, and we went back for seconds before we left town.

The Office Right in the heart of historic downtown is The Office. This sweet gastropub offers tantalizing bites and great brews.

Rocket Fizz While not a restaurant, you can get your sugar levels up here! We love to find root beer to do tastings. Rocket Fizz is a perfect place to find those unusual treats.

The Southern Cafe Home of the nasty biscuit! Just writing about this place made my mouth water. The plates were HUGE, and the food was killer. It is one of those places that I wish was closer to home.

Flagship on the Fox We are lunch here on our day out with our e-bikes. It was the perfect place to park the bikes and eat outside. The menu was spectacular, and every bite was sumptuous.

Pro-tip: While we could not eat at every place in town, it is notable to mention there are 126 restaurants and pubs in St. Charles.

St. Charles History Museum

The St. Charles History Museum was founded in 1933 and is housed in the McCornack Oil Company building that was built in 1928. You feel the history before you even walk through the doors!

This sweet little museum is dedicated to St. Charles and its progress. Spend some time exploring all the exciting facts about St. Charles and look for the information about pickles. We thought everything was fascinating, but the pickle got the whole family smiling.

Permanent Exhibit: The Makings of St. Charles

The exhibit showcases the origins of St. Charles and the progress of its growth. The exhibit traces the city from its roots as a small settlement and its history from a Civil War training ground to its development as a getaway destination for Chicago to what you see today.


Monday: Closed

Tuesday – Saturday: 11 AM – 4 PM

Sunday: Closed

The Museum is closed on all major holidays.

St. Charles History Museum website

Throw an Axe at Splinters

Evenings in St. Charles are a great time to hit the nightlife. Sprinters are where friends gather for some friendly competition and fun. Book a lane for an hour or two and learn the art of axe throwing. Upon arrival, you get a lesson from one of their Axesperts, someone who will train you how to hold and throw an axe properly! I can tell you this is something I am not great at, but it is a lot of fun and makes for some great laughs with the family.

Pro-tip: Wear closed-toe shoes, comfortable clothes, and be prepared for a good workout!

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