Nestled in the heart of Northern Illinois, DeKalb is a charming city with a rich history, vibrant culture, and a plethora of activities for visitors to enjoy. Whether you’re a local looking for something new or a traveler passing through, DeKalb offers a diverse range of attractions. In this guide, we’ll explore the top things to do in DeKalb, Illinois, ensuring you make the most of your time in this hidden gem.
- Discover the NIU Campus: DeKalb is home to Northern Illinois University (NIU), a campus that boasts stunning architecture, green spaces, and a lively atmosphere. Take a stroll through the campus, visit the Huskie Stadium, and explore the NIU Art Museum for a taste of the local academic and cultural scene.
- Explore the Ellwood House Museum: Step back in time at the Ellwood House Museum, a beautifully preserved historic mansion that provides insight into DeKalb’s early days. With guided tours, you can explore the elegant rooms, lush gardens, and learn about the influential Ellwood family.
- Shop at Downtown DeKalb: Downtown DeKalb is a hub of activity with boutique shops, quaint cafes, and vibrant art galleries. Spend a day exploring local businesses, picking up unique souvenirs, and enjoying the small-town charm that permeates the area.
- Attend Events at the Egyptian Theatre: A true architectural gem, the Egyptian Theatre hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including concerts, plays, and film screenings. Check their schedule to see what’s happening during your visit and immerse yourself in the local arts scene.
- Nature Escapes at DeKalb Park District: Enjoy the great outdoors at the DeKalb Park District. Take a leisurely stroll through Hopkins Park, embark on a bike ride along the Nature Trail, or pack a picnic for a relaxing day surrounded by nature.
- Visit the Midwest Museum of Natural History: Perfect for families and nature enthusiasts, the Midwest Museum of Natural History showcases exhibits on paleontology, geology, and local wildlife. Engage in interactive displays and gain a deeper understanding of the natural world.
- Dine at Local Eateries: DeKalb’s culinary scene is diverse, offering a range of dining options from cozy cafes to upscale restaurants. Try local favorites, and don’t forget to explore the craft beer and cocktail scene at the various bars and breweries in the area.
- Attend Festivals and Events: DeKalb hosts a variety of festivals and events throughout the year, celebrating everything from arts and culture to food and music. Check the local events calendar to see if your visit coincides with one of these lively gatherings.
- Golfing at River Heights Golf Course: For golf enthusiasts, the River Heights Golf Course provides a picturesque setting for a day on the greens. Enjoy the well-maintained course surrounded by scenic landscapes.
- Experience Local Arts at the Art Box: The Art Box is a unique space showcasing local artists’ works. From paintings to sculptures, immerse yourself in the vibrant arts community of DeKalb.
- Catch a Game at Huskie Stadium: If you’re a sports enthusiast, attending a game at Huskie Stadium is a must. Cheer on the Northern Illinois University Huskies and immerse yourself in the energetic atmosphere of college sports.
- Take a Day Trip to Sycamore: Just a short drive from DeKalb, the neighboring town of Sycamore is worth exploring. Wander through its historic downtown, visit the charming shops, and don’t miss the annual Pumpkin Festival if you’re in town during the fall.
- Attend the Corn Fest: DeKalb’s Corn Fest is an annual event celebrating the city’s agricultural heritage. Enjoy live music, delicious food, a carnival atmosphere, and, of course, sweet corn. It’s a fantastic community event that draws locals and visitors alike.
- Go Antiquing: Antique enthusiasts will appreciate DeKalb’s antique shops. Spend a day browsing through unique finds and vintage treasures in the various stores scattered throughout the city.
- Take a Brewery Tour: DeKalb has a burgeoning craft beer scene. Explore local breweries and taprooms, such as Fatty’s Pub and Grille or Forge Brewhouse, and sample a selection of artisanal brews.
- Attend a Performance at the Stage Coach Players: Enjoy community theater at its finest by catching a show at the Stage Coach Players. This local theater group puts on a variety of performances, from classic plays to contemporary productions.
- Explore the DeKalb County History Center: Delve into the region’s history at the DeKalb County History Center. With exhibits covering everything from early settlers to industrial advancements, you’ll gain a comprehensive understanding of DeKalb’s past.
- Take a Scenic Drive Along Lincoln Highway: Embark on a picturesque journey along the historic Lincoln Highway. This scenic route offers beautiful landscapes and glimpses of small-town America, making it a perfect way to spend a leisurely afternoon.
- Join a Workshop at the Crafty Hands Pottery Studio: Unleash your creative side at Crafty Hands Pottery Studio. Participate in pottery workshops and create your own unique piece of art under the guidance of experienced instructors.
- Stroll Through the DeKalb Farmers’ Market: If you’re visiting during the warmer months, don’t miss the DeKalb Farmers’ Market. Sample fresh produce, artisanal goods, and handmade crafts while supporting local vendors.
DeKalb, Illinois, may be a smaller city, but it packs a punch when it comes to offering diverse and engaging activities. Whether you’re interested in history, nature, arts, or simply enjoying good food, DeKalb has something for everyone. Take your time exploring this hidden gem, and you’re sure to create lasting memories in this charming Midwestern city.