One of my favorite things to do is explore small, historical towns and check out everything unique and charming about them. This Memorial Day weekend, Julian and I decided to head west to St. Charles and Geneva, and we had a great time! Working two jobs, blogging, freelance writing, and trying to stay fit and sane can be pretty heavy and stressful at times, so it was really nice to take some time to unwind and lose myself in fun moments. I did not stick to any one diet on this trip, and while I’m happy to be back to my normal routine now, it was fun to indulge!
While I did take some pictures, I tried to disconnect from my phone a bit and really live in the moment. I am happiest when I am surrounded by nature, and I wanted to take some time to really breathe in the river air and enjoy the scenery.
St. Charles is only a little over an hour away from where we live, and we got lucky with beautiful 70-degree weather on Saturday. I got a leg workout in at the gym in the morning and rushed home to make a green smoothie and finish packing. We left around 1:30 and arrived around 2:50. The GPS we were using had us make several unnecessary detours through tolls! That was frustrating, but I was enjoying the wind, sun, in-car playlist, and the Bang Rainbow Unicorn I’d gotten for the little road trip!
Someone was not very happy with the GPS issues. After checking into our hotel, we headed to downtown Geneva, which was a very short Uber ride from our hotel. We walked around the neighborhood for a bit until we ran into the Dam Bar & Grille. We each ordered a drink in our excitement of being away.
After stopping for a drink, we were hungry and walked to the Old Towne Pub. They had a rooftop seating area and a menu full of bar food. I got a veggie burger with the house-made chips, but the burger was so big that I could barely touch the chips! I also had a pomegranate ginger spritzer. It was refreshing without being too sweet.
Next, we decided to walk along the river in Island Park. The trail is actually pretty long and eventually leads to a small area shrouded by trees and woodland along more of the river. There are always tons of people in the park having barbecues, fishing, throwing parties, and walking their dogs (my favorite part!).
We walked the entire trail and back and then decided to walk along 3rd St. This is a very long street that is filled with souvenir shops, restaurants, bars, venues, and more! It was wonderful being outside in such beautiful weather, and the street was filled with people enjoying food, live music, and drinks.
I was still full from the lunch we had, but we decided to stop for a drink at Wildwood to sit out on their patio and keep enjoying the weather. I had a Ballast Point Sculpin – the beer is filled with Habanero and Serrano and made my mouth burn a bit with every sip! It was tempered with a slight sweetness and definitely an interesting choice!
When it started to get a little late, we went back to the hotel room to get ready to go out again! On some of our vacations, we tend to go non-stop. We really enjoy exploring new areas and trying local food and drinks and checking out the storefronts. I also love an excuse to dress up since I don’t get to do that too often.
We walked to downtown St. Charles and ran into a totally awesome store that was right up my alley! It’s called Ghoulish Mortals and it is filled with horror pieces designed by various artists. They had figurines, jewelry, candles, and much more! I had my eye on some of the Stranger Things pieces, and Julian wanted to bring home a dead baby statue (I put a stop to that idea pretty quickly!). It’s creepy and fun and definitely worth checking out.
We stopped in for one drink each at several bars (don’t worry – I was drinking water with every drink and had come prepared with activated charcoal pills!). First, we stopped at a huge bar called Alley 64. It was super-crowded and not really our scene, so we only stayed for one and then walked over to Dawn’s Boatyard. This bar had an outdoor patio, and I tried a beer called The Juice is Loose. It was an IPA and some of the ones that are bitter are a little hard for me to drink. The upside to the outdoor patio is that there was an adorable puppy under one of the tables!
Finally, we went to a bar called Alibi. This bar had all kinds of things going on. There was a dance floor, a DJ, a pool table, a darts and gaming area, and a bar to watch sports. We had so much fun and even danced for a while! We were having such a good time that we ended up staying until closing. I don’t think we went to bed until 4, but it was nice to let loose a bit.
The next morning, I woke up at 9 even though I’d only had 5 hours of sleep. I didn’t want to waste any time. First, we went to breakfast at the Colonial Cafe. I took one look at their ice cream menu and felt like ordering one of the peanut butter and fudge ice creams for breakfast! Instead, I had an egg and avocado sandwich on artisan wheat toast. Julian had an avocado, bacon, and tomato scramble. After breakfast, we went back over to the river and were planning to rent some bikes, but it ended up raining for a bit! Instead, we went back to our hotel and decided to swim. I have always loved to swim and I think it’s a great form of exercise. We had fun with it and broke up swimming laps with running, squats, and other various exercises inside the pool.
After swimming, the sun had come back out, so we went to the Red Oak Nature Center. This is a beautiful wooded area with a great view of the river, and there’s so much to explore. We even found a cave!
After exploring that area, we drove to Pottawatomie Park. Since the sun came out, it was another beautiful day and we enjoyed the scenery and river views.
We also stopped by the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir. Wow, what a beautiful temple! The intricate marble carvings, beautiful architecture, and gorgeous interior are a wonder to behold. You must be silent inside, and the serenity and peacefulness are such a calming, welcome change from the bustle of city life. We even saw peacocks strolling the premises.
Finally, we made one more stop at the Delnor Woods Park. We walked a small trail of the little forest preserve area and found some really cool birdhouses and saw several chipmunks running across the trail. We also got to see a giant frog. We’re used to seeing little animals since we visit forest preserves so often, but it’s still fun every time.
After a full day of walking and exploring, we decided to head back to the hotel to get ready for the evening. I brought the Yes To brand Unicorn face mask with me just for fun. I read while the mask set and enjoyed relaxing with a Crabbie’s ginger beer. This is one of my favorite drinks because the alcohol content is very low but the taste is phenomenal! Once we were both ready, we went to Geneva Ale House in downtown Geneva. There were tons of awesome-sounding menu items. We started with the cheese curds, and they were awesome! Ever since we visited Lake Front Brewery in Milwaukee a few years ago, we consider ourselves “curd snobs” and these hit the mark. I also had a Black Cherry cider.
Surprisingly, the town was pretty dead. We figured more people would be out because of the holiday the next day, but the streets were incredibly quiet. We decided to have one more drink at the corner pub and then call it a night.
We had to leave our hotel by noon the next day. I sadly packed up and got ready. I was not ready for the weekend to end! We went to breakfast at a local diner called “Mother’s” and I had an avocado and tomato omelette with wheat toast. The menu said the tomatoes were “diced,” but the chef included quarter chunks of tomatoes and it was kind of hard to eat! After, we wanted to go to one of the bigger forest preserves, but the second we got there, it started pouring like crazy. The rain was coming down in sheets so hard that visibility was zero. It was so bad that we couldn’t even get on the road.
We had to pull over for a bit and went to a place called Pub 56 to just talk and play games while waiting for the rain to pass. Since I wasn’t driving, I did have a watermelon ale and a citrus-infused IPA. I really wasn’t ready for this vacation to be over!
After a couple hours, the rain stopped and we were able to drive home safely. I was sad to leave St. Charles and all of its small-town beauty and quirkiness, but I am looking forward to our next adventure. How was your Memorial Day weekend?