Even on a chilly, slushy March day, Honey in downtown Glen Ellyn feels a lot like spring. Maybe it's the corner bakery-restaurant's giant blooming flower artwork, or its pastel walls and live succulents in handmade ceramic pots. But more than anything, fresh-baked cupcakes, cookies and bars behind sparkling glass temper residual winter blahs. It's hard not to walk in here and feel happy.
Fittingly, Honey marks a fresh start for owner Elizabeth Janus, who switched careers to open the restaurant after a trip abroad. "I kept hearing locals talk about how the one thing their charming downtown needed was an all-natural place to dine with family and friends," she says. Bingo.
Settled in 1834, Glen Ellyn (population: 27,000) prides itself on its leafy downtown, which straddles the Metra train line. Original Tudor Revival-style storefronts complement rehabbed Victorian, Dutch Colonial, American Foursquare and cottage homes. Moms, daughters and girlfriends can easily spend the day exploring the stores and restaurants in this six-block downtown.
Just for starters, you could have breakfast at Honey; linger over handbags and jewelry at scrappy-cute AliKat; explore a vintage candy shop; and grab dinner before a movie at the historic Glen Art Theatre—or get there early and catch a matinee for just $5.
Residents watch the number of visitors swell every summer, when the Illinois Prairie Path, a 62-mile-long crushed-limestone former railbed, teems with bicyclists, dog walkers and joggers. A family-friendly cardboard regatta and picnic (June 30, 2012) draws crowds to nearby Lake Ellyn, also the site of a Fourth of July fireworks show. JazzFest Glen Ellyn (July 14, 2012) attracts thousands, too. But springtime is relatively quiet, giving girlfriends eager to catch up plenty of places to do it.
Click ahead for ideas on where to shop and eat in Glen Ellyn. Pictured: Friends gather at Honey, which serves from-scratch breakfast, lunch and dinner. (630) 469-0000; honeycafe.net 
Women with artsy tastes love AliKat for Bohemian-style clothing. Knickers of Glen Ellyn carries luxe lingerie and stylish sleepwear. M and Em's sells ribbon-trimmed baby-girl outfits, along with women's sportswear, while Paisley on Main specializes in gifts, jewelry, home accessories and Vera Bradley goods.
Culinary tabletop shop Marcel's Culinary Experience opened in 2011, featuring cookware, specialty foods and cooking classes. Swap Shop Resale Boutique offers a good mix of designers and sizes that run up to 16. Ten Thousand Villages sells fair-trade artsy gifts and home-decor items. The Bookstore (yes, that's its name, and it promotes local authors) stands next to crafty-cool String Theory Yarn Company, a treasure trove of artisanal, fair-trade and Earth-friendly yarns.
The owners of Sign of the Whale Antiques delight in sharing how history—and human touch—shaped their well-edited selection of Early American antiques. Cabernet and Company stocks nearly 1,000 bottles of global wines (running from $5 to $400), and tiny Glen Ellyn Sweet Shoppe sells throwback 5-cent candies, as well as popcorn.
Pictured: Moms and daughters alike enjoy AliKat, a fashion boutique with a cool mural of a French alley on the wall. (630) 469-5760; alikatboutique.com 
Lunch spots prove as eclectic as the shops. Mykha's Restaurant dishes the best deal, a delicious $10 Vietnamese buffet of delicate egg rolls, noodles, soup, salads and hibiscus tea.
At contemporary Honey, patrons nosh on farm-to-table breakfasts, salads, sandwiches and desserts. Try the grilled tilapia sandwich served on artisanal bread and paired with grilled romaine salad, or the standout veggie burger, or the amazing homemade mac 'n' cheese. For the last bite, the vanilla bean cupcake comes topped with buttercream goodness, but consider rounding the corner to see if Dessertz is open. If so, you'll find sugar cookies in seasonal shapes (including shamrocks) and bite-size cheesecakes perfect for taking home.
For more info, contact the Downtown Glen Ellyn Alliance (630) 469-0947; downtownglenellyn.com 
Pictured: Beet salad at Honey.
(A version of this story appeared in Midwest Living® March/April 2012.)