A short drive outside of Chicago will land you in the small but quaint village of Willowbrook in the heart of DuPage County. Even with its small-town charm, the county has a big personality and plenty of fun things to do during the spring. During the season, expect the area to be teeming with trees in bloom and flowers releasing their fragrant scents into the air to welcome visitors. Here are the top things you should plan for this spring in Willowbrook.
Route 66/Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket
You’ve heard of the world-famous Route 66, but did you know you can cruise on it in Willowbrook? In fact, the area is where the route first started before reaching its end in Southern California. The long route is known for having multiple iconic stops, and Willowbrook’s signature stop is its highly raved Dell Rhea’s Chicken Basket (you can’t miss the vintage, neon sign by the road). The restaurant originally opened in 1946 at a gas station lunch counter and since then has blossomed into an iconic hot spot for locals and visitors to get their fried chicken fix. You’ll find a kitschy and retro atmosphere with rooster artworks throughout the location. It’s one of the top-rated places to visit on Route 66. Today, it still remains arguably the best spot to get fried chicken in the Chicagoland area and even made its well-earned appearance on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives” show.
Willowbrook Ice Arena
Locals of the area are excited about their newest venue, Willowbrook Ice Arena, featuring a state-of-the-art ice-skating rink. While hockey teams and figure skaters use the facility to practice, the arena is open to the public as well. For $7.00 per person, you can enjoy the rink on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons. Don’t own a pair of ice-skating shoes? Don’t worry. You can rent some from the arena for $3 The arena makes an ideal place for a romantic date, family outing or a night out with friends.
Only 8 miles outside of Willowbrook is one of the country’s best zoos. At Brookfield Zoo, you can see a wealth of animals, such as dolphins, elephants, rhinos and wolves. Looking for something out of the ordinary in the spring? Brick Safari features more than 40 life-size animal sculptures created from millions of individual colored LEGO® bricks! The menagerie of animals will be located along a winding, wooded pathway on the east side of the park, and many of the sculptures are based on some Brookfield Zoo favorites, such as the lion, giraffe, snow leopard, and pangolin.
Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve and John Husar I&M Canal
Spring is the time to get outside and enjoy the warmer weather. The best place to start is at the John Husar I&M Canal, a multiuse trail that stretches from Willowbrook to other neighboring towns. Throughout the trail, you’ll come across scenic landscapes of wilderness, historic “canal” towns and a canal that runs parallel to the route. You can also visit the 2,503-acre wide Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve that’s known for its hilly terrain and stunning waterfalls. It’s a popular site for camping, and visitors come to the preserve to partake in multiple activities such as cycling and hiking. Bring the binoculars because the preserve has up to 300 species of animals living in the area, and during the spring, patches of the prairie turn into a beautiful field of wildflowers.
If camping overnight in the preserve isn’t your thing, you can stay at some of Willowbrook’s cozy accommodations such as the La Quinta Inn, Red Roof Inn and EconoLodge. All three of the hotels are conveniently located next to Route 66, the ice-skating rink and the forest preserve. The affordable accommodations offer 24-hour gyms, room service and complimentary breakfasts to help you kick off your day in Willowbrook.