DuPage Road Trip – Where Nature Meets Art
At this moment in history, we feel the depth and need for human connection alongside nature. Combine those seamlessly in a road trip to DuPage County. This year, those themes come to life in a big way, literally and figuratively, as DuPage hosts two major exhibitions that welcome people to discover, engage and reflect. While here, we invite you to connect with the communities and people that make DuPage a special place to live, work and visit.
Your getaway begins at the sprawling and magnificent 1,700-acre landscape of The Morton Arboretum for South African artist Daniel Popper’s Human+Nature — his largest exhibition to date featuring 15- to 26-foot-tall sculptures that call attention to the connections between humans and the trees.
Bringing together nature and sculpture for an immersive experience, Popper’s work has been featured all over the world, creating profoundly inspirational spaces.
The Morton Arboretum is in The Village of Lisle, where you can also find the North American Pizza & Culinary Academy — offering curbside pickup, demonstrations and workshops. The Scuola Italiana Pizzaioli is the oldest and most prestigious pizza school located in Italy. The North American Pizza and Culinary Academy is the second official school in the U.S., led by Master Instructor and member of the World Pizza Team, Leo Spizzirri.
If you have yet to try the plant-based food movement, there is no better place to do so than in DuPage, home to the annual celebration VeggieFest and restaurant Manna Kitchen — a family-run and foodie-approved restaurant offering 100% plant-based comfort food. Offering easy online ordering and an approachable menu, you are sure to find a new favorite.
One of the most recognized artists of the 20th Century continues her legacy of inspiration and relevancy, and you are invited to be a part of the extraordinary experience. Frida Kahlo: Timeless is the largest Frida Kahlo exhibition in the Chicago area in more than 40 years, hosted by the Cleve Carney Museum of Art and the McAninch Arts Center at the College of DuPage.
Frida Kahlo’s work directly drew from all aspects of her turbulent, yet exceptional, life — the exhibition provides intimate access to her personal world. “The pandemic has been a challenging time for everyone,” said exhibition Curator and Cleve Carney Museum of Art Curator, Justin Witte. “We only have to look to Frida Kahlo to be reminded that we can persist and endure.”
College of DuPage is located in the beautiful Village of Glen Ellyn, boasting a postcard-perfect downtown home to a few of our culinary favorites: Marcel’s Culinary Experience, Marché, Chocolaterie Stam and local brewery Two Hound Red.
A trip to DuPage wouldn’t be complete — especially serving a need for nature — without DuPage’s Natural Wanders. With 500 miles of trails and special places open for exploration, sometimes residents don’t even know what’s in their backyard. Natural Wanders includes 11 unique outdoor experiences, curated so there is something for everyone. We encourage you to review them all. Here is a snapshot:
If you're looking to take your outdoor recreation to new heights, you shouldn't miss The Forge: Lemont Quarries. With ropes courses, ziplines, climbing walls, mountain biking, hiking trails, and even outdoor dining options, this is a destination for all ages and abilities, in rain or sunshine! Not far from The Forge is Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve*, consistently ranked among the best hiking experiences near Chicago. It is known for its Rocky Glen waterfall, Sawmill Creek bluff overlook and extensive trails.
*Due to the popularity of this site and over-crowding during the pandemic from increased visitation, DuPage residents and the Forest Preserve District respectfully ask that you keep this on your list for future travel inspiration. Please be respectful of our natural resources and everyone who wants to appreciate their respite and beauty: pick up pet waste, do not leave trash, and be mindful of trail etiquette.
Often people find their way to DuPage simply for our sophisticated yet small-town charm. Strolling our downtowns is a getaway itself, each community offerings its own ambiance.
Next door to Lisle, you’ll find downtown Naperville with a plethora of shops, over 50 dining options, and the picturesque Riverwalk. Plan to stop at Tasting deVine Cellars, a tasting room for the award-winning Lynfred Winery — Illinois’ first winery which produces more varieties under one brand than any winemaker in the United States.
The City of Wheaton was named one of the top walkable cities in the U.S. and welcomes all to enjoy its beautiful downtown and nearby Wheaton College. The Wheaton location of Tasting deVine offers a retail shop and tastings – reservations strongly recommended!
Downtown Downers Grove, known for its welcoming fountain and annual events, is an energetic downtown with much to do. While in Downers Grove, beer lovers should check out Alter Brewery + Taproom.
If you’re looking to make a full day out of one stop, grab a coffee at the sidewalk window for Brewpoint Coffee in Elmhurst, and explore the many offerings of their downtown at Elmhurst City Centre. Take a walk to nearby Wilder Park where you can view the architectural distinction of Wilder Mansion and Elmhurst Art Museum (EAM), while enjoying the park’s gardens.
Considered an international destination for scholars and fans of Mies van der Rohe, one of the great architects of the 20th Century, EAM features Mies van der Rohe’s McCormick House. McCormick House is one of only three residences designed and built by Mies in the United States – and one of only two for public viewing. In 2018, EAM unveiled the highly anticipated restoration of the house’s original façade.
Across the street is the 48-acre campus of Elmhurst University, which happens to also be a designated arboretum. Enjoy a craft beer at the outside patio of Elmhurst Brewing Co. and complete your day at 151 Kitchen | Bar, Open Table Diner's Choice for Healthiest Restaurant.
As we all find new ways to connect to ourselves, others and the world around us during this pandemic, we invite you to discover the unexpected: discover DuPage. Be sure to look at Things to Do and our Calendar of Events for more ideas on creating your perfect getaway. With over 100 hotels and resorts, wonderful options for dining to go, and a myriad of outdoor experiences, you can make 2021 a year to remember.