Fresh Fun for the Family in McHenry County
Many like to celebrate the arrival of autumn by visiting a pumpkin patch or corn maze, and McHenry County farms beckon citydwellers to come bask in the great outdoors.
Located in the northwest region of Chicagoland and easily accessed via Interstate 90, McHenry County offers a relaxing change of pace from the urban rat race. The Fox River provides endless opportunities for water recreation, and quaint downtown districts harbor history and specialty shops.
Fall for the Farm
You’ve probably never been to a fall festival quite like McHenry County’s 26th Annual Autumn Drive, which takes place Oct. 18-20. Fourteen family farms in rural McHenry County open to the public for three days of fun, with pumpkin launchers, petting zoos, an apple cannon, wagon rides, local produce and honey, crafts, antiques, fall decorations, door prizes and concessions.
In Woodstock, you can spend an entire day at All Seasons Apple Orchard, Pumpkin Patch and Corn Maze. Beginning Aug. 31, All Seasons opens daily with more than 11,000 fruit trees from which you can pick your own apples and pears. The owners stock their farm market with fresh-pressed apple cider, 10 flavors of fudge (and free samples), raw honey, fruit butters and preserves, potted mums and cookbooks. The onsite bakery offers apple cider donuts, pies, hand-dipped caramel apples and homemade breads. Kids love the hay mountain, petting zoo, pedal karts and mini zip park.
Head to Richardson Adventure Farm in Spring Grove for even more family fun. Get lost in the World’s Largest Corn Maze, zoom across a 700-foot zip line and watch a live pig race. They’re open Wednesday through Sunday (plus Labor Day and Columbus Day) in September and October.
Now That’s Entertainment
Catch a movie at “C” You At The Movies, a nostalgic theater in downtown McHenry with two screens. The small hometown theater hands out free drinks, and employees go up and down the aisles to refill popcorn so moviegoers don’t have to miss a moment. Woodstock Opera House (pictured above) and Crystal Lake’s Raue Center for the Arts also provide memorable entertainment, hosting concerts, theater, dance, visual art and educational programs.
Train fans young and old shouldn’t miss the Illinois Railway Museum in Union, where electric cars, steam and diesel trains, and trolleys operate on scheduled days. Browse railroad collectibles in the museum store or walk the spacious grounds. In October, costumed kids can ride the Trick or Treat Trolley, and teens and adults can get spooked at the museum’s Terror on the Railroad Haunted Halloween Train Experience.
Harvest Gathering of 1858
The first Sunday in November, the historic Powers-Walker House in Ringwood transforms into an 1850s harvest-time farmhouse. Called the Harvest Gathering of 1858, the free annual event allows visitors to watch and participate in harvest activities of yesteryear, such as baking bread in a wood-burning stove, making candles, shelling corn, grinding corn into flour and making cornhusk dolls. Volunteers in period clothing answer questions and give tours of the 1854 Greek Revival home.
Other annual events at the Powers-Walker House include the Ice Cream Social of 1858 every June, Archaeological Awareness in September, and birding walks and Living History open houses throughout the year.
10 McHenry County Must-Sees
All Seasons Apple Orchard, Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze
Bettendorf Castle (tours by reservation only)
Downtown Crystal Lake
Downtown McHenry Theatre
Illinois Railway Museum, Union
McHenry Riverwalk District
Off Square Music, Woodstock
Richardson Adventure Farm
Volo Auto Museum
Woodstock Opera House
10 Shopping & Dining Destinations
Anderson’s Candy Shop, Richmond
Blue Eagle Pottery, Woodstock
da Baffone Cucina Italiana, Crystal Lake
Georgio’s Chicago Pizzeria, Crystal Lake
Ginger Blossom Inc., Richmond
La Petite Creperie & Bistrot, Woodstock
Morkes Chocolates, Algonquin
Red Barn Farm Market, Woodstock
Sunshine & Shadows Quilt Shoppe, McHenry
The 1905 Emporium, Richmond