10 Bucket List Things to See and Do in Hinsdale and Oak Brook - bairdwarner.com
10 Bucket List Things to See and Do in Hinsdale and Oak Brook

Head west of Chicago, and you’ll find some of the most charming and lovely communities in the state of Illinois, including Hinsdale and Oak Brook, two gems of Chicagoland’s western suburbs. 

Both Hinsdale and Oak Brook are situated in DuPage County, with small portions falling within Cook County. These established villages are known for being industrial and commercial centers in their own right, playing host to a variety of shopping destinations and well-regarded restaurants, as well as many different parks and nature centers.

What are the attractions and destinations to see in Hinsdale and Oak Brook, Illinois? Here are ten “can’t-miss” sights and experiences to add to your bucket list: 

1.) Step Back In Time at the Graue Mill and Museum

Want to experience what industry and commerce looked like in Chicagoland, circa the 1800s? The Graue Mill and Museum is the region’s only working waterwheel grist mill, and it has earned a remarkable place in history. Throughout the 1800s, the mill served as a key stop along the Underground Railroad, and was famously a favorite spot of President Abraham Lincoln’s. Since then, this sprawling facility has been named to the National Register of Historic Places, and is the only grist mill recognized as a landmark by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Today, visitors can explore the mill, and see how it would have operated more than 150 years ago, while also learning about the history of the land, the Graue family, and the Oak Brook area as a whole.  

To find out more or plan your visit, The Graue Mill and Museum’s official site is available here. 

2.) Hit the Links at a Local Golf Club

If your idea of a perfect day is sinking a long putt on a perfectly-manicured green, then you’re sure to find something to love in Hinsdale and Oak Brook. These villages are home to several well-regarded spots to hit the links, including the Butterfield Country Club, which hosts invitationals and tournaments throughout the year, as well as the Hinsdale Golf Club and the Oak Brook Golf Club

3.) Marvel at the Mayslake Peabody Estate

Originally constructed as a country home for Francis S. Peabody, a well-known business tycoon, the Mayslake Peabody Estate is now a draw for people from all around the Chicagoland region. Located on the grounds of the Mayslake Forest Preserve, this sprawling estate has become a thriving community space, with ample fields and forests worth exploring. The land is also home to a few notable structures, including Mayslake Hall, an enormous mansion built in the Tudor style, as well as Portiuncula Chapel, a replica of a landmark chapel in Assisi, Italy. Throughout the year, the stunning grounds play host to a number of different events, including art classes, concerts, theatrical performances, and more. 

To learn more about this iconic Oak Brook destination, you can visit its official page here, via the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County. 

Photo credit: DDima via Wikimedia Commons, https://bit.ly/2RHgw8p

Photo credit: DDima via Wikimedia Commons

4.) Grab a Sweet Treat from a Local Hinsdale Bakery

Craving something sweet when you’re out and about in the Hinsdale area? There are plenty of bakeries, cafes, and shops serving up delicious treats, perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth. For those who need to keep their snacks gluten free — or who simply want to taste some of the best desserts in the Chicagoland area — Sweet Ali’s Gluten Free Bakery serves up a wide variety of cupcakes, cookies, muffins, and more. Nearby, Toni Patisserie & Cafe is a charming spot that takes pastries, tarts, and cakes seriously, dishing out a number of elevated sweets including macarons and petit fours. 

5.) Enjoy a Day in Nature at Fullersburg Woods

Want to listen to songbirds, get up close and personal with local wildlife, or learn more about the countless varieties of plants that call Illinois home? For anyone wanting to escape from civilization for an hour or two, the Fullersburg Woods Nature Preserve should be high on your list of places to explore in the western suburbs. Offering more than 200 acres of prime wildlife havens, this enormous park offers visitors the chance to learn about the environment at the Fullersburg Woods Nature Education Center, while also getting to experience a wide array of outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, fishing, and boating. 

To learn more about Fullersburg Woods, you can visit its official Forest Preserves of DuPage County web page, available here. 

6.) Have the Most Important Meal of the Day at a Classic Breakfast Joint

Want to start your day off on the right foot? Whatever you’re in the mood for first thing in the morning, Hinsdale and Oak Brook are full of plenty of places to enjoy a hearty breakfast, including local staples like YiaYia’s Pancake House & Restaurant. Around the area, be sure to check out the Mexican-inspired coffee and breakfast dishes at Cafe La Fortuna, or the classic breakfast bites served up at Page’s Restaurant in Hinsdale. 

7.) Experience All That Oakbrook Center Has to Offer

An enormous indoor/outdoor mall complex, Oakbrook Center promises to give visitors the chance to “relax, revive, and reinvent.” A popular shopping destination for people from all across the area, Oakbrook Center is home to more than a hundred stores, ranging from flagship department stores to local boutiques. The center is also home to a diverse selection of dining options, as well as two movie theaters. Throughout the year, you’ll also find plenty of fun events happening on the lawn, including concerts, outdoor film screenings, live music, and more. 

To see a full directory of stores, dining, and events, you can visit Oakbrook Center’s official site, here. 

Photo credit: Bogdanstepniak via Wikimedia Commons, https://bit.ly/2X29xrW

Photo credit: Bogdanstepniak via Wikimedia Commons

8.) Get Sporty at an Oak Brook Recreation Center

Looking to embrace the active side of Oak Brook and Hinsdale? These outdoorsy communities offer a number of different ways to go out and get moving. In Oak Brook, for instance, tennis fans can sign up for classes or book lessons at the Oak Brook Tennis Center, part of the Oak Brook Park District. In addition to its impressive courts, which host games and tournaments for players of all ages and experience levels, the Tennis Center also boasts some great amenities, including a sauna and a pro shop. Nearby, the Oak Brook Family Aquatic Center features an enormous lap pool, a leisure pool, spa facilities, and more. For those looking to learn how to ride horses, Oak Brook Farms offers hands-on dressage lessons and year-round horse boarding. 

9.) Ride the River on the Salt Creek Trail

Winding its way through a number of communities north and west of Chicago, the Salt Creek River is one of the area’s crown jewels. For years, this long and winding river has been a prime destination for hikers who want to follow its trail on foot, as well as for canoeing and kayaking enthusiasts, who navigate this enticing waterway by heading out into the surf. The Oak Park area offers a convenient place to embark on a paddle of the Salt Creek River, by way of an access point located in the Dorothy and Sam Dean Nature Sanctuary. 

Want to discover more about the Salt Creek River and its signature water trail? You can learn more here, via Paddle Illinois. 

10.) Discover New Art at a Local Gallery

Looking to add to your collection of art or antiques? Whether you’re in the market for a new piece of artwork, or you simply want to spend a few hours marveling at the craftsmanship of local creators, Oak Brook and Hinsdale are full of galleries and art spaces worth exploring. In Hinsdale, you can pay a visit to Expression Gallery of Fine Art, ArtQuest Gallery, or Acquisitions of Fine Art. Meanwhile, the Art & Antiques Centre of Oak Brook draws visitors from around the community, looking to experience local art shows and tour the facility’s expansive gallery spaces. 

Interested in Learning More About Hinsdale and Oak Brook?

Want to get a better feel for these charming communities in the western suburbs? Be sure to read up on Oak Brook and Hinsdale’s housing and market stats using our handy guides, available here.