Jul 16, 2023 - Things to Do

A day tripper's guide to DuPage County

A colorful umbrella art installation floats in an alleyway in DuPage County.

Just a few blocks down from the museum on York Road, you can be covered by the Umbrella Sky Project. Photo: Justin Kaufmann/Axios

It's not just Warhol in the western suburbs. There are several other arts and culture stops that could fill a day trip to DuPage County.

  • Here's what to see:

Elmhurst Art Museum: "Marvelocity"

A large painting of the Incredible Hulk takes up the majority of a white blank wall, next two two smaller Marvel artworks.
Photo: Justin Kaufmann/Axios

Elmhurst Art Museum is one of the Chicago area's best kept secrets.

State of play: Nestled off the campus of Elmhurst University, the museum has hosted amazing shows, from artist Hebru Brantley to the upcoming Pablo Picasso exhibit.

  • But if you go before Aug. 20, you can see the detailed work of comic book artist Alex Ross. Ross, who lives in the northern suburbs, drew several comics for Marvel, including Spider-Man and the X-Men.
  • When you view them up close, you can't escape his mastery. A must-see for Marvel fans, but also a must-see for those who just love great art.

What they're saying: "Alex has been called the 'Michelangelo of superheroes,' or the 'Caravaggio of Caped Crusaders,'" the museum's executive director John McKinnon tells Axios.

  • "His characters feel like they're gonna jump off the page."

The Umbrella Sky Project

The Umbrella Sky Project is a worldwide phenomenon, and Elmhurst is only the sixth U.S. city to host it.

Details: The umbrellas are installed in three locations downtown, but the best is just off York near the theater. It's a dazzling display of colors and movement when the wind picks up and the umbrellas sway.

Naperville Riverwalk

Statues of two Naperville Riverwalk founders along the Riverwalk.
The statue of the Riverwalk founders in Naperville. Photo: Justin Kaufmann/Axios

Naperville isn't well-known for art projects, but it should be — with murals scattered throughout downtown and sculptures and statues along the Riverwalk. The nature around the river is not too shabby, either.

Justin's favorite: The statue of the Riverwalk founders (above) is very late '70s. It's not every day that urban planners get this kind of recognition.

Aurora's RiverEdge Park

Fans pack the stands at a Styx concert.
A recent rock show featuring Siin and Styx at RiverEdge Park in Aurora. Photo: Justin Kaufmann/Axios

If you can coordinate the right show for the right night, end your suburban day trip in Aurora at RiverEdge Park.

State of play: The park sits along the Fox River just on the edge of downtown and offers a nice alternative to other Chicago area outdoor venues.

  • The folks at Paramount Theatre do a great job of booking solid acts, including a recent show by beloved home-grown rockers Styx.

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