Illinois Itinerary: A Horse is a Horse, of Course, of Course
The Itinerary at a Glance
Carousel horses, iron horses and real horses – plan an equine-themed itinerary with a mix of sophisticated elegance and down-home fun. Pack the pearls and the comfy blue jeans.
3 Unique Experience on This Trip
- Port Edward Restaurant
- Royal Oak Farm Orchard
- Richardson Adventure Farm
Duration: 2 Days
This Itinerary is Ideal For: All
Barrington Hills – Cary – Algonquin – Union – Woodstock
Begin a horse-themed adventures in McHenry County with a docent-guided tour of the Sanfilippo Estate, a private estate in Barrington Hills where carousel horses come alive on a fully restored 1890 Eden Palais French carousel. This hidden gem, open only to select groups, also features the “Place de la Musique,” a world renowned collection of fully restored and operational antique music machines, phonographs, arcade and gambling machines, and chandeliers. The sensory immersion experience begins from the moment the motorcoach drives on to the estate’s grounds and continues as the 8,000-pipe theater organ rattles the rafters.
With eyes, ears, heart and soul alive with wonder, stop for lunch at Tapas Calpe in Cary (only open at lunch for tour groups who have booked in advance; open to the public for dinner and Sunday brunch). Old World European flair mingles with local flavor as specially crafted dishes transport guests to a different time and place.
Or, schedule a group lunch at Port Edward Restaurant in Algonquin, a nautical dining experience since 1964 and selected as “one of mid-America’s most unusual restaurants” by AAA Motor Club. This unique restaurant includes 17th century Spanish cannons, rustic anchor chains and a full-size sailboat floating in its own indoor harbor. Port Edward offers senior group tour luncheon menus. There’s even a gift shop to browse before or after lunch.
Walk off the delicious lunch with a tour of the “iron horses” at the Illinois Railway Museum in Union. At America’s largest railway museum, feel the rumble of a steam engine, see the sleek shine on a Zephyr or take a relaxing ride on a vintage trolley car.
End the evening with dinner at The Public House, located in the Old Courthouse on the Historic Woodstock Square. The bar area of the restaurant still has the original jail cell from the 1800s. The bar was also where Andie McDowell and Bill Murray made their toast to “world peace” in the 1992 film Groundhog Day. Outdoor dining available in season. Groundhog Day walking tours also available.
Harvard – Hebron – Spring Grove – McHenry – Union
Put on comfy shoes and get ready to experience America’s family-owned farms. Fill the day with a stop at each farm or select one or two for an agricultural sampler. Other customized farm experiences are available.
Start the day at Royal Oak Farm Orchard in Harvard with a walk through the country’s first apple tree maze or a hay wagon ride. This multigenerational, family-owned and -operated farm features over 12,000 trees with 26 varieties of apples. The farm also produces raspberries, pumpkins, gourds and squash.
Enjoy lunch at Royal Oak’s Country Kitchen Restaurant, offering tasty soups, sandwiches, entrees, salads and homemade chicken pot pies. Then, shop the country store, offering a large selection of inspirational gift items and packaged assortments of jellies, jams and honey.
With a bag full of apples and a stomach full of pot pie, stop in the Hebron Antique and Specialty District to find vintage tchotchkes, antique jewelry and restored furnishings. Then, visit Von Bergen’s Country Market, just east of Hebron, offering some of the best sweet corn around. Shop the market for farm-fresh vegetables and baked goods or visit the farm animals. In September, the farm hosts an antique tractor show featuring tour wagons, music and more.
A visit to McHenry County is only complete with a stop at Richardson Adventure Farm in Spring Grove. Get lost in the World’s Largest Corn Maze set on 33 acres with over 10 miles of twisting and turning confusion. Or climb the 50-foot observation tower for a bird’s-eye view of the maze and the county’s farmland. A zipline and orb are available for the daredevils. Looking for something a little milder? Richardson’s provides customized tour experiences, including off-season adventures, where groups can learn more about the creation of the corn maze or tour the Christmas tree farm.
For a unique farm experience, explore Ginger Blossom’s in Spring Grove where there’s much more than apples and corn. Tucked into the farmhouse, barn and out-buildings is an eclectic collection of ethnic and traditional crafts, rugs, furniture, sweaters, antiques and jewelry from around the world. Ginger (yes, the owner’s name really is Ginger Blossom) travels the world for unusual items to sell on the farm where she grew up. Every item at Ginger Blossom’s is purchased under the guidelines set by the Fair Trade Federation.
Stop in Stade’s Farm & Market in McHenry, one of the area’s most popular agritourism destinations. With over 2,200 acres, Stade’s grows everything from traditional corn and soybeans to many fruits and vegetables. With family-oriented festivals, hayrides, petting zoo, corn maze, live music, farm store, Sunday morning outdoor worship services (in season) and the popular Pumpkin Cannon, Stade’s offers the finest in agricultural fun and food.
End the horse experience with “Sips & Saddles” at Paddock Hills Equestrian Center in Union. Customized group experiences can include a vineyard hayride, wine-tasting, campfire, private buffet or chuck wagon dinner and private horse show performed by the Midwest Renegades Equestrian Drill Team in the center’s indoor arena.
National brand hotels with free motorcoach parking and group tour pricing are available.