Are you thinking about living in Chicago’s suburban communities and wonder what some of the suburban downtown areas look and feel like? In this video, I’m going to share my top 5 downtowns in McHenry and Kane Counties that are located right on the Fox River. We’ll explore everything from food and drink to seasonal events so you can get an idea of what there is to do in each area.
Our first must-see downtown area is West Dundee, nestled on the Fox River Valley in Northern Illinois. It makes for a perfect quick trip any time of the week and any time in the day. Downtown West Dundee has many unique dining options, plenty of entertainment, and a thriving nightlife.
Grab a seat on the patio at Bleuroot where you can enjoy a view of the Fox River and settle in for a local farm-to-table experience. Bring the whole family out for dinner at The Village Squire, an English-style pub with a variety of great food. Be prepared to yell “Opa!” with the crowd as the Saganaki comes out.
On Main Street in West Dundee, Illinois sits the Hunt’s Block Building, a fixture in the National Register of Historic Places and home to the original and first Emmett’s Brewing Company. In 1998, Andy, his family, and a group of investors bought the building, renovated it, and set up shop. They serve handcrafted food and award-winning beer.
West Dundee’s downtown is also home to RocHaus Music Venue. The name says it all and features live music, including an October 1st night of all your Kiss favorites with one of the hottest bands in the country, Mr. speed. You don't want to miss this one! I already bought my tickets and will be there. So if you want to join me, we could grab a drink together at Bamboozels right across the street. They have seriously good food, a great interior vibe, and it’s a really fun place to be. Visit on Wednesday evenings at 8 pm for karaoke and drinks—you won’t regret it.
Another great downtown area is East Dundee. If you haven't seen my other videos, specifically on East Dundee’s downtown, restaurant, and entertainment area, make sure you check it out. East Dundee is filled with unique shops and restaurants. The village and residents of East Dundee take great pride in community events hosted on the east side of the river.
East Dundee community events include the annual Oktoberfest, Dickens In Dundee, Thirsty Thursdays, Wine Down Wednesdays, Motor Monday, St. Patrick's Day, the shredding event, and community garage sale. Their downtown is also absolutely amazing. There are a variety of great restaurants to choose from, including Nonno’s Italian Kitchen, Aliano’s Ristorante, Bandito Barney’s, River Street Tavern, Duke’s Blues N BBQ, Black & Gray Brewing, D.C. Cobb’s, and so much more.
Up the river is McHenry, Illinois, situated along the Fox River and 10 miles from the Wisconsin border. It’s a vibrant community of just under 28,000 people and has three distinct downtown areas rich in history: Main Street, Green Street, and Riverside Drive. All three areas consist of quaint specialty retail shops as well as service-oriented businesses.
McHenry Riverwalk has sparked a renaissance in this historic river town, connecting shopping, dining, recreation, and entertainment to the Fox River. Visitors can enjoy fine dining, a waterfront stroll, and catch a movie at the indoor theater—all within the Riverwalk district. I think the Riverwalk was the best investment McHenry ever made. It truly is a great feature to have. I’ve always said if you want a thriving downtown area to work, you need a Riverwalk.
Take a stroll in downtown Geneva and explore historical elements, unique stores, specialty food shops, and restaurants. This area is a shopper's paradise. The downtown boasts over 100 specialty shops, many
historic storefronts, and charming Victorian-style homes. With each new season, Geneva merchants fill their shops with exclusive treasures from all over the world.
The French Market brings farm-fresh produce, fresh flowers, baked goods, jewelry, handbags, and more to the downtown Geneva area. It’s open on Sundays from late April to mid-November from 9 am to 2 pm and is held n the parking lot of the Metro Train Station at 4th and South. There’s also no shortage of food there, making it a great way to spend the weekend.
St Charles has a vibrant downtown filled with shopping and dining. It has something for everyone, including a vintage Riverfront hotel called the Hotel Baker. It sits right on the Fox River on Route 64. Another St. Charles establishment that needs a shout-out is the Filling Station Pub + Grill. This is a family-friendly, antique-adorned pub with a diverse American menu, patio seats, and sports on the TV.
Don’t forget to try McNally's Pub, a traditional Irish pub offering a classic menu, awesome beer on tap, and a great vibe. St. Charles also has Riverside Pizza & Pub, a festive bi-level parlor for creative pies, draft brews, and cocktails.
You can also visit one of the best venues in the area for live music: the Arcada. It’s the best place to be, and I've seen so many great bands there—including one of the best bands to come out in the 1980s, Tesla. That's right Tesla. I haven't missed a show. And lastly, this is another town where you can make a weekend out of enjoying the outdoors.
Exploring Chicago’s Suburban Downtowns
I hope this gave you some insight into living in Chicago’s suburban communities. Whether you want to hit the club or simply relax outdoors, each of these downtown areas offers something for everyone. I recommend exploring these cities to see which one best suits your vibe.
If you have any additional questions about any of these suburban communities, please don't hesitate to reach out and ask. You can also subscribe to my channel so you never miss an episode!