Aug 25, 2023 - News

A day tripper's guide to Aurora

Photo of a bridge over a river.

The Fox River flows through downtown Aurora. Photo: Justin Kaufmann/Axios

Welcome to the last installment of our weeklong road trip. We've been to Harbor Country, Frankfort, Rockford and the North Shore. Today: Aurora.

Zoom in: Aurora is growing fast; it's knocked off both Naperville and Rockford to become Illinois' second-largest city. Founded in the 1830s, it was named for the Greek goddess of the dawn.

  • 💡 The first city in the country to use electric lights? Aurora.

It's worth the hourlong trip from downtown not only to visit a great Midwestern city, but to see what's changed there.

ğŸ¥ž Breakfast: Aurora Pancake House is worth the trip for the sign alone. For less batter, try Endiro Coffee.

Photo of an old church
Photo: Justin Kaufmann/Axios

🚶 Midmorning stroll: Downtown is full of interesting architecture and designated landmarks, but it also mixes and matches styles including Victorian and Italianate.

  • It looks and feels like a Midwestern river town, like Des Moines.
  • You can also walk along the Fox River, including strolling on the new pedestrian bridge that connects the river walk.

🍺 Lunch: Two Brothers Tap House is a must-visit, especially if you're into Illinois craft beer. This brewery is one of the first and largest in the suburbs.

  • Aurora is a big city that's big on restaurant chains, so if a spendy lunch isn't your thing, there are several cheap options.

🛍️ Afternoon activity: Shopping is always a good call here. Just north of downtown you'll find Chicago Premium Outlets, along I-88. Represented are Nike, Polo, Armani and so on.

🥩 Dinner: Craft Urban Aurora dishes out delicious American fare, both in Aurora and nearby Geneva.

Photo of an old theater
The Paramount Theatre in downtown Aurora. Photo: Justin Kaufmann/Axios

✨ After dinner: Aurora has great entertainment options. The Venue hosts local and national bands, while the Paramount Theatre attracts audiences from all over Chicagoland.

  • The theater also runs programming for nearby RiverEdge Park, which presents outdoor concerts along the Fox River — a great way to end a spectacular day trip.
  • Chicago's own Poi Dog Pondering is playing there tomorrow.
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