The county seat of Kendall County, the fastest growing county in the country in the 2000s, this Fox River town maintains much of its rural and historic charm, while also featuring a variety of outdoor activities and a growing range of dining and entertainment options.
Navigate a whitewater course on a kayak. Savor a plate of authentic southern barbecue. Take a tour of a stunning home designed by a pioneer of modern architecture. If it sounds like there’s a mashup of fun in and around Yorkville — part country, part suburban,part contemporary and part historic — that’s because this southwestern suburb offers a little something for everyone, especially as it grows in population and development.
LET IT SNOW
Yorkville’s parks and riverside are perfect for a winter stroll in the snow, and there’s plenty of fun to be had before it all melts away.
Strap on cross-country skis or snowshoes . . . and glide through trails at the 50-acre Bristol Bay Regional Park, Rotary Park or Silver Springs State Park.
Sled snow-covered hills . . . at Bristol Bay Regional Park, Cannonball Ridge Park and Greens Filling Station Park, whenever there is a decent layer of snow on the ground.
From natural springs to man-made lakes, the great outdoors tempt Yorkville residents and visitors year round.
Visit a bubbling silver spring . . . at the namesake Silver Spring State Park, a fish and wildlife area overseen by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. It’s a wilderness awaiting cross-country skiers or snowmobilers, with winter sledding
and ice skating, too. There’s the man-made Loon Lake and Beaver Lake, and the Fox River cuts through the park as well. When the temperatures heat up, of course, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, hiking and picnicking are all sunny-day options.
An archery range and equestrian trail are part of the state park as well.
Explore nature and learn about it,too . . . at the Kendall County Forest Preserves, which covers parts of Yorkville. The District offers winter programs for kids, focusing on animals or — just in time for Valentine’s Day — Love Birds.
Kendall County Outdoor Education Center at Hoover Forest Preserve schools kids with experiential discoveries at outdoor and indoor education stations used by youths from preschool through high school.
YORKVILLE ON THE WATER
Swim, float or just splash, there’s riverside fun for everyone in Yorkville.
Kayak or canoe the Fox River . . . accessible through several launch and access points. Take a quick dip at Bicentennial Riverfront Park, where there’s a playground, a civic lawn and even rinse-off showers.
Whitewater rafting in the ‘burbs? Yes! Marge Cline Whitewater Course is the spot for whitewater enthusiasts from all over the Chicago area. Watch them compete in July at Yorkville River Fest at Bicentennial Riverfront Park. There’s a race on the Marge Cline course, along with a cardboard boat flotilla in calmer parts of the Fox River. The festival also features a rib fest, craft beer tastings and live music.
Ride the wild waters . . . at the state’s largest water park, Raging Waves. Built on 58 acres of farmland along Rt. 47, it just keeps getting bigger. Two new attractions opened last year — QuokkaNut Island for tots aged 2 to 5 and Wild Wallabies, a pair of 600-ft slides.
Or just watch from the shoreline . . . Take a stroll along riverside paths and waterways, bring a fishing pole and cast a line, or have a picnic at Bicentennial Riverfront Park.
SEE AND BE SEEN
Be a tourist for a day, whether you’re an architecture buff or not. Yorkville has plenty to see and do. Farmland still surrounds much of Yorkville, with history waiting to be learned at Lyon Farm, home to the Kendall County Historical Society. Check out restored farm buildings and other local structures with interesting local history, including a one-room schoolhouse, a general store, a post office and a railroad depot.
First stop is . . . the stunning steel and glass Farnsworth House, not far from Yorkville in nearby Plano. It was built in 1951 by famed architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (whose credits include Gold Coast residential buildings on Lake Shore Drive and a one-time home that now houses the Elmhurst Art Museum). Built as a country home for noted doctor Edith Farnsworth, the house is open for public tours on a limited basis in the winter and on a broader schedule beginning in April. Group tours and private rentals are offered, too.
Take me to church . . . at the Chapel on the Green, the oldest church building in Kendall County. The restored pipe organ dates back to 1899. It’s now managed by the Chapel on the Green Historical Society and is a particularly charming venue for weddings and other ceremonies and occasions. On Feb. 17, the Chapel is hosting a free wedding expo with exhibits and tours.
Or take a step back in time . . . at The Homestead 1854, another historically unique wedding and special events venue. The Homestead is also a boutique B&B that does, indeed, date back to 1854. PARTY ON There’s nothing like a community party, and Yorkville has plenty of them. Here are some favorite get-togethers.
Go green . . . and celebrate Irish heritage at the annual St. Patrick’s Day Festival in downtown Yorkville on Saturday, March 16. It’s all there: a festive parade, bands, pipers and more. Grab a pint at a local pub to warm up or knock back.
Lollapalooza southwest? It may not be Lolla or Coachella, but Summer Solstice Yorkville is an indie music festival that attracts large, fun crowds on the day of the year that is not only longest, but has the most sunlight. The event is put on by the Law Office Pub & Music Hall, a cool venue in downtown Yorkville that offers live music throughout the year in a circa-1868 building that was, at different points in its storied history, Yorkville’s first high school and, later, a private law practice.
Cruise through the summer . . . every Wednesday night at Bicentennial Riverfront Park there’s on-street entertainment and cool cars at Yorkville’s Cruise Night and annual Fourth of July festivities. One of Yorkville’s best-loved organizations, the Yorkville Big Band, performs on Independence Day. A highlight of the year is Hometown Days, usually at the end of August or beginning of September in Beecher Community Park, with a carnival, concerts — and food.
EAT YOUR HEART OUT
Take your ‘cue . . . barbeque, that is. Putting the south in the southwestern suburbs, Yorkville has some fine barbecue joints. As its name suggests, Southbank Original Barbecue is located on the banks of the Fox River in downtown Yorkville, and serves up authentic barbecue meats smoked low and slow and topped with house-made sauces, cooked up by a pit boss who learned his trade at a respected barbecue spot in Alabama. Or check out the fare at Smokey’s Wood Pit BBQ, with classics like ribs, rib tips, beef brisket and pulled pork, along with other fast-casual favorites like gyros and charbroiled burgers.
For big appetites . . . meaning, really big appetites — the Roadhouse Country Bar and Grill offers a Big Hoss Challenge of three 10-oz. burgers topped with cheese, lettuce, tomato, bacon, onion rings and pickles, along with a stack of fries. If you eat it in an hour, you get a commemorative t-shirt.
For old-fashioned and authentic . . . nosh on a pastrami sandwich or another deli staple or pastry at Capitano’s Deli & Sweets in the middle of the downtown district. Capitano’s has become a popular gathering spot for residents, too.
Or for burgers & brews . . . cross the street from Capitano’s to the Crusade Burger Bar. Other spots for casual fare for foodies of all stripes include Blackstone Bar & Grill, Casa Santiago, Ginger & Soul, Lakeview Grille, Legends Grill & Bar, Que Brava and Rowdy’s (a bar known for its hog wings), among others.
Wake up for coffee . . . and a dose of charm at Belladonna Tea & Coffee, another hub of the community in downtown Yorkville. Stick around this coffee and tea room on the last Wednesday of every month, when a local henna artist does on-site henna designs for customers.
ELEVATE YOUR HEART RATE
Winter and summer alike, there are plenty of ways to keep moving in Yorkville.
Tee off . . . even while waiting for the weather to cooperate in spring. Practice your swing year-round at Whitetail Ridge Golf Club. The club, the cornerstone of the Whitetail Ridge Golf Community, is a daily fee facility. If you’re planning a wedding or other special event, Whitetail Ridge Golf Club also operates a vintage farmhouse on the property. Built in 1845, Ashley Farm has a quaint wraparound porch and scenic outdoor view.
Take a tumble . . . or at least watch your kids take a tumbling or dance class at YPAC, short for Your Performing Arts Center. Located in the town’s old newspaper building, YPAC also offers cheer and theatre programs and performances.
Take time out for sports . . . at Go for It Sports Dome, where kids are perpetually in motion. Yorkville’s new sports complex is for kids and adults and offers sports camp and programs in soccer, flag football and more. Say “Namaste” . . . and get some peace and mindfulness along with your movement at Living Divina Yoga and Fitness Studio in downtown Yorkville, which offers a range of yoga classes. This studio is also known for its spiritual Holy Yoga sessions.