This weekend is Wizard World Chicago. Which is funny because it’s not actually in Chicago. It’s being held at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, about fifeteen miles northwest of the center of Chicago.
While a trip to Chicago is worthy of it’s own weeklong vacation to check out the hundreds of attractions the city has to offer, chances are you just won’t have that kind of time or energy this weekend. Here is a small guide of things you can do outside of the actual city if you happen upon some free time or just want to get away for a little while. If you have any other questions about attractions or things to do, feel free to hit me up on twitter at @mels80 and I’ll get you some info!
Chicago Premium Outlets is located in Aurora off of I-88 (about 40 miles SW of Rosemont) This is an outdoor shopping mall with 120 stores including Coach, Nike, Ann Taylor and more.
Gurnee Mills Mall is located in Gurnee, I-94 to Grand Avenue (30 miles N) This indoor shopping mall is fourth largest in Illinois with approximately 200 stores
Catigney Park is located in Wheaton on the corner of Winfield Road and Roosevelt Road (25 miles SW). There are several gardens to explore as well as two museums (McCormick and the First Infantry Museum). I’ve also been told there is a tank on the premises. There is no fee for the gardens, however it is a $5/car parking fee.
Morton Arboretum is located just north of I-88 on Route 53 in Lisle (about 25 miles SSW). The Arboretum costs $11/person and boasts of 16 miles of walking trails among the gardens and trees.
Chicago Botanical Garden on Lake Cook Road in Glencoe (20 miles NNW) is another free garden with a $20/car parking fee. There are about 385 acres filled with twenty four display gardens and four natural growth areas.
Brookield Zoo is one of my favorite places to visit. Located in Brookfield on 1st Avenue, just south of I-290 (15 miles S) it has some of the most amazing animals and exhibits. General Admission is $19/person and there is a $9/car parking.
Six Flags Great America is a theme-park located in Gurnee on Grand Avenue off of I-94 (30 miles N). Admission is a bit steep ($60), but you can save $20 by purchasing your tickets online. There is also a $20 parking fee. If you do go, I highly recommend riding the American Eagle wooden dual roller coaster, which currently has one of it’s tracks running backwards.
Hollywood Casinos has two locations in Illinois. The first is in downtown Aurora (I-88 to Route 31, south to Galena Blvd. – 38 miles SW) and the second is located in Joliet (I-55 to Route 6, east to Hollywood Blvd – 40 miles S)
Grand Victoria is located in Elgin on Grove Avenue just south of I-90 (25 miles W)
Harrah’s has a casino in Joliet, take I-355 to Route 5 (40 miles S)
The newest Illinois Casino, Rivers Casino in Des Plaines on River Road is literally right down the road. (2 miles E)
Arlington International Racecourse is a beautiful horse racing venue located in Arlington Heights near the intersection of Route 53 and Euclid Avenue (11 miles NNW). Be forewarned though, this weekend is the Arlington Million Race so expect some crowds in the park.
For a movie experience like no other, I highly recommend either Hollywood Palms or Hollywood Blvd. These are “Dinner and a Show” type theaters where you get your own executive chair and can order not only your normal movie fare, but also full meals and your choice of libations. Movie tickets are on par with a normal theater as are foo and drink prices. Visit www.atriptothemovies.com for current showings and times.
Hollywood Blvd. is located in Woodridge on 75th and Lemont Road, (25 miles SSW)
Hollywood Palms is located in Naperville on Route 59 and Aurora Ave. (30 miles SW)