Idyllic Aurora: Outdoors and Nature in Illinois
With its blocks of brick buildings and abundant charm, it’s hard to believe that Aurora is the second-largest city in Illinois. From nightlife and entertainment to outlet shopping, there’s certainly plenty to do and see here! And this includes the great outdoors. For outdoors enthusiasts, there are several places around town where you can enjoy a beautiful day out in the sunshine.
Free Fun at Phillips Park
The 325-acre Phillips Park includes a park, sunken gardens, golf course, a lake, picnic areas and even a free zoo. Stop first at the visitors’ center, where you can learn about the history of the park and zoo, and even about the mastodons that used to inhabit the area. The sunken gardens have a spectacular display of over 15,000 annuals. I learned that flowers are hand-planted throughout the year to change with the seasons. Near a bench where I sat, I noticed four statues that represent the four seasons. Get up close to all the animals from foxes to eagles at the zoo. It is also home to many animals that were being rehabilitated from injuries.
Along the Fox River right in downtown Aurora, we discovered a wonderful outdoor venue called RiverEdge Park, where many people were taking advantage of the beautiful day with a leisurely stroll or bike ride. There is a kayak launch here as well, but the big attraction is the outdoor concert venue, where a variety of major musical talents come to entertain the locals and visitors. The park also plays host to the annual Blues on the Fox festival and a variety of summertime events.
For a beautiful combination of architecture and nature, I recommend the Farnsworth House. This world famous masterpiece represents the ultimate refinement of Miles van der Rohe’s minimalist expression of structure and space. After passing the most beautiful scenery with the Fox River alongside, there it was – a beautiful, modern house with floor-to-ceiling glass windows, sitting quietly in the middle of a prairie. In spring, brilliant flowers burst into bloom all around the house. Part of the National Trust for Historical Preservation, this is a special place that is definitely worth a visit.
Aurora is an exciting place, but it also has a serene countryside feeling, and certainly plenty of opportunities to enjoy both nature and the excitement of the city. It’s a beautiful blend of both urban and suburban.