Families on the Fox Does... Downtown Aurora, Illinois
The beautiful thing about life in the far western suburbs of Chicago is that there is never a shortage of “things to do”. From family-friendly outings to nights out with your friends to a romantic evening with your significant other, the far western suburbs has something for everyone.
One of the best places to do any of those things is Aurora. I have been noticing new businesses, restaurants, and organizations popping up left and right in Aurora, making it this super hot-spot and I wanted to dive right in with my family.
Something that continues to catch my eye from @downtownaurora on Instagram is the beautiful art installations throughout the downtown area. Murals on exterior building walls. Electric boxes being turned into magnificent pieces of art. Sculptures being erected. Windows being painted. When I see functional and beautiful art in a downtown area, it’s a physical sign of the vitality and heartbeat of that town. Of the people. Of the businesses. All dedicated to making it a place people want to be.
My family was lucky enough to be hosted by Aurora Downtown, an organization dedicated to making Downtown Aurora a premier destination, and I wanted to share our day with you, down to the penny of what we spent!
REAL TALK: I wasn’t surprised by the amount of fun we had, nor was I surprised by how affordable everything was. In all honesty, sometimes I forget all the amazing things that Aurora has to offer. This Day Trip was the perfect reminder of how lucky we are to have Aurora so close for a quick, affordable, and easy family-friendly outing.
Park your car and don’t plan on getting in it until you head home because everything is within walking distance and laid out conveniently in the itinerary below. Without further adieu, here is the Somers Family Itinerary for a day in Downtown Aurora (prices are for TWO ADULTS + THREE KIDS ages 6, 4, and 1)…
9:00a | COFFEE + BREAKFAST AT SOCIETY 57 | $44.15
Guys, when I say that I walked into Society 57 and fell in love with the feeling that surrounded me, I MEAN IT. The walls are black. The floors are concrete. The lighting is warm. The leather couches were beckoning us to sink into them. The coffee bar is in the middle of the room. And the staff [enter Heart Eye Emoji HERE]… they were so helpful, patient, and sweet (I’m speaking to you, Joey!).
THE FOOD + DRINKS: Tyler and I ordered the Cinnamon Maple Latte, a signature drink at Society 57, recommended by the barista as he informed us all of the syrups for the drinks are homemade in-house. Our three babes each had their own Hot Chocolate and chocolate croissant (I know, what the hell were we thinking sugaring our kids up like this?!).
THE SPACE: There is an ample amount of seating in the main areas of Society 57, including nearly 20 seats around the coffee bar itself. Leather couches, cozy
leather chairs, industrial bistros tables, and tiered amphitheater-style seating are abound. There are two rooms, the East Room and the West Room, that can be reserved for private meetings by closing the clear glass
garage door separating it from the main space of Society 57. Then there is a larger event space that can hold up to 180 guests. This room has windows facing the Fox River and would be a GREAT space for a small wedding, showers, or parties!
10:00a | SCITECH MUSEUM | $40
Just a one minute walk directly east of Society 57 is the SciTech Museum. Housed in the old Post Office, this museum is three levels of hands-on, interactive science exhibits for ALL ages. I’m not kidding. Tyler and I were so engaged with everything too (see the pictures of me in the Tornado Machine and Tyler pedaling a bike to create energy). There’s even a space dedicated to Tiny Scientists aged five and under!
Our girls were asking questions, being inquisitive, and “WHOA”-ing the whole time. It was great to see them so interested and engaged in STEAM topics through the various exhibits. They created large structures, they learned about space, sound, energy, and water, but you know what their favorite thing was? The old-school telephones. You know, the kind with a curly cord. #TheyMakeMeFeelOld. But of course these weren’t just old-school telephones. They were old-school telephones that ran on infrared lights and the sound could be interrupted by putting your hand over the light. Boy did they love that! Telling them stories about mommy using phones that looked like that blew their mind.
Because there is so much to explore, you are guaranteed to get hungry but not be done interacting with all that this museum has to offer. Because of this, SciTech Museum encourages you to either: (1) Bring your lunch so you can get right back to exploring after you eat, or (2) Head out to grab lunch at a local restaurant and re-enter at no additional cost (just show
them your sticker from earlier that day). Talk about a fantastic set up!
SciTech also offers birthday parties, private events, Cub Scout and Girl Scout programs, and School Break programming! Check out their current list of events HERE!
12:00p | LUNCH AT ENDIRO COFFEE | $44.54
A nine-minute walk north of SciTech, we found Endiro Coffee to be the perfect place for a healthy, affordable lunch! With a focus on sustainably sourcing their coffee from Uganda and sourcing their food as local as they can, they have created a menu filled with healthy options that can meet a wide variety of dietary needs!
Tyler has started a heavily vegetarian diet and had so many options beyond salads! And the girls all got a kids grilled cheese which was ONLY $3 and included a side of fresh fruit or chips! I HIGHLY recommend getting the sautéed veggies as your side. They were so flavorful!
The truly unique thing about Endiro Coffee is that they are whole-heartedly committed to bringing the local people of Uganda a quality product and several jobs. Endiro Coffee has FIVE locations in Uganda, providing employment to several locals, allowing them to earn an honest living providing for their families.
1:00p | TREDWELL COFFEE STOP | $9.58
After leaving Endiro, we headed out on the Riverwalk Underpass towards Downer Place. We passed a beautiful mural under New York Street. Walking along the river made us hungry for warmer weather because we love kayaking in the Fox! We made a mental note to come back to Aurora to kayak in the summer because of all the places to stop!
After our short six-minute walk, Tyler and I grabbed a coffee from Tredwell Coffee. I tried the Mexican Mocha and LOVED it! We considered this the “Adults Dessert” because we knew full well that the kids were going to enjoy ice cream later.
The space is warm, cozy, and eclectic with mismatched tables and chairs. Windows facing the Fox River and several boardgames gracing a windowsill in the corner make this an inviting place for a family to sit, relax, and enjoy each other’s company.
1:05p | DAVID L. PIERCE ART & HISTORY CENTER | $0
One minute down Downer Place, you will find the David L. Pierce Art & History Center. Entering through the gift shop, the staff will help give you a brief overview of the exhibits you will encounter on the three levels of the museum. The character in the building is enough for any architecture enthusiast with the massive windows that go nearly from floor to ceiling, original wood floors, and history abound. Because this is a history AND
art museum, you will see works of art by area students and local artists alike, as well as historical artifacts that helped to shape the Aurora we can visit today.
This museum was completely free to visit, but it is always welcome to make a donation when visiting museums that are free.
HOURS: Wednesday - Saturday 12:00p - 4:00p
2:00p | AURORA REGIONAL FIRE MUSEUM | $20
After leaving the David L. Pierce Art & History Center, we walked through Water Street Mall to see the 15.5’ star that was installed. Continuing down Broadway towards the Aurora Regional Fire Museum, we passed countless painted storefront windows that gave off that holiday spirit!
After our short seven-minute walk, we got to the Aurora Regional Fire Museum and the girls took off immediately. We even got to meet Santa because he just so happened to be visiting the museum at the same time we were! BOOM! Although you cannot climb the antique fire trucks you will find on the main floor of the museum, you are encouraged to analyze them and read about how they were used. This is what fascinated Tyler and I, but of course the hands-on command center room and dress up station is what had the girls’ attention!
On the second level, you will find a private party room and several smaller rooms filled with artifacts and historically significant stories. Again, this was all intriguing to us grown-ups, but the kids found the fire station-themed playroom and spent much of their time here.
4:00p | ICE CREAM AT CHARLIE’S CREAMERY | $4.55
Our kids were hitting their limits without getting a nap, but were keeping it together because we bribed them with ice cream in exchange for good behavior. No, I don’t feel bad about that. Don't judge.
We walked back towards Charlie’s Silver Spoon Creamery (eight minute walk). This new ice cream shop is so sweet (no pun intended)! The staff here was SO KIND! We told the big girls they had to split a single scoop, so they had to agree on a flavor. They tried several samples before landing on “Rose”, inspired by the play “Beauty and the Beast” because it is showing at the Paramount Theater just down the street!
We got our scoop and took it to a table but it wasn’t long before the girls were arguing about who was getting more ice cream. Without even being asked, the girls behind the counter brought us over a second cup to split the ice cream evenly. How sweet was that?! Talk about excellent customer service! The ice cream was fantastic but the service was even better! Definitely worth a visit!
We had a jam-packed day of exploring our neighboring town of Aurora as a family. We loved getting to know this town and the people that call it home, and we know you will too!
If you have any questions about our trip in Downtown Aurora or have suggestions for another town to do a Day Trip in, feel free to email me at chrissy@FamiliesOnTheFox.com!