Holiday Day Trip West of Chicago | Midwest Living

Holiday Day Trip West of Chicago

Four towns along the Burlington Northern Santa Fe train line ring with holiday merriment. On winter weekends, cozy shops and restaurants offer a welcome place to shop and reconnect.

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Blue Feather Books and Botanicals Ltd. in La Grange stocks stress-relieving scents.
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Buttercream-topped cakes fill the window at Kirschbaum’s Bakery in Western Springs.
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Artsy displays invite shoppers into Clever Girl in Western Springs.
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Dozens of trains stop at Hinsdale’s downtown station each day.
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Trip guide

You can ride for $4.25 each way on Metra and enjoy all four towns without a car (it’s about 20 minutes from La Grange to Downers Grove by train). For schedules, visit metrarail.com.

La Grange

The shopping district clusters around the La Grange Road station. It’s a happy medium between small Western Springs and larger Downers Grove and Hinsdale (both can easily take a half day to explore). Scarlett’s Tara offers enchanting Christmas ornaments, like Victorian angels and fairies, as well as candles and other home goods. (708) 354-0051 Cleo Boutique sells trendy, colorful separates for women. (708) 482-8770; cleoboutiqueltd.com Dream catchers, some made by Native Americans, make great stocking stuffers at Blue Feather Books and Botanicals Ltd. (708) 352-8481; bluefeatherforyou.com You’ll find artisan-made sculptures, fiber arts and jewelry in the Art Stop Gallery. (708) 482-9880; artstopgallery.com Hand-dipped chocolates and candy-laden caramel apples tempt at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. (708) 352-6487; lagrangechocolate.com Beautiful light fixtures, wall art and seasonal items shine at Hortons Home Lighting. (708) 352-2110; hortonshome.com Try to resist the holiday outfits at The Urban Mutt. (708) 354-4655; theurbanmuttstore.com Wine, beer and holiday collections at Vino e Birra make great hostess gifts. (708) 639-4466; vinoandbirra.com For lunch, Nicksons Eatery serves American dishes like sliders and the Colorado elk burger, flavored with duck fat and topped with a garlic-infused mayonnaise. (708) 354-4995; nicksonseatery.com

Western Springs

The area surrounding the train station has more banks, hardware stores and real estate offices than boutiques. But two mini department stores—the Uptown Shop (708) 246-1600; uptownshop.com and Clever Girl (708) 246-5050; shopclevergirl.com—are worth checking out. Both carry items like ladies’ sweaters and jewel-tone blouses, hostess gifts, soaps, jewelry, decorative cookware and Christmas ornaments. Then plan to stop at Kirschbaum’s Bakery, which has been in business for 60 years. (708) 246-2894; kirschbaumsbakery.com Foodies love Vie, a farm-to-table spot considered one of the region’s best dinner destinations. (708) 246-2082; vierestaurant.com Mécénat Bistro and Gathering Place offers burgers and seasonal dinner specials in a cozy dining room. (708) 246-8668; mecenatbistro.com

Hinsdale

The shops are fun but pricier in this affluent suburb. Stop at The Green Goddess Boutique and you’ll find gorgeous, soy-based candles alongside hand-embroidered cowboy boots starting at $410. (630) 655-9050; thegreengoddessboutique.com Hinsdale Wine Shop appeals to oenophiles. (630) 654-9862; hinsdalecellars.com Fuller’s Home and Hardware has a seasonal Christmas tree lot. (630) 323-7750; fullershomehardware.com Ooo La La! is a tween magnet, with merchandise walking a fine line between childishly appealing (knit caps with ears and googly eyes) and sophisticated (silver chains roped around sparkly charms). (630) 655-9330; ooolalaparties.com Spectacular sushi anchors the menu at Nabuki, or try the exquisitely light shrimp and veggie tempura served on a bed of crunchy rice noodles. See Midwest Living's review. (630) 654-8880; nabukihinsdale.com

Downers Grove

A down-to-earth vibe anchors this historical downtown. Baubles and More sells boutique clothing at a discount and costume jewelry. (630) 434-4441; baublesandmoreonline.com Find gifts for all occasions, including weddings and showers at Avec Panache Gifts (630) 963-1010; avecpanachegifts.com and classy home decor in a luxe showroom at Dream Interiors. (630) 810-1389; dreaminteriors.com The staffers at Anderson’s Bookshop have a librarian’s grasp on the store’s selection, and many authors stop here for signings. (630) 963-2665; andersonsbookshop.com The menu at Capri of Downers Grove looks like standard Italian fare, but the flavors will wow you, especially the rigatoni in tomato-vodka sauce, slow-roasted chicken Vesuvio and Chilean bass Francese. See Midwest Living's review. (630) 241-0695; capridownersgrove.com

For more info:  Village of La Grange villageoflagrange.com
Village of Western Springs wsprings.com
Hinsdale Chamber of Commerce (630) 323-3952; hinsdalechamber.com
Downtown Downers Grove (630) 725-0991; downtowndg.org

(A version of this story appeared in Midwest Living® November/December 2013.  Prices, dates, and other details are subject to change, so please check specifics before making travel plans.)

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