For a day trip from Chicago to 19th-century America, board the Metra train's Union/Pacific Northwest Line in the Loop for the hour ride from city to farmland to McHenry County's quaint Woodstock (51 miles northwest of Chicago). Named a Distinctive Destination by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Woodstock's historic square starred in the movie Groundhog Day. Victorian storefronts and restored civic buildings surrounding the pretty town square house sophisticated independent shops, art galleries and restaurants. The 1889 Woodstock Opera House where Orson Wells got his start still packs patrons in with contemporary headliners. A seasonal farmers market sells area bounty, and on summer nights, fiddlers perform in the lacy gazebos. Art Fair Diddley and the Mozart Festival draw attendees from nearby states.
The 1890 Woodstock Opera House, which anchors the town's 19th-century square.
Where to shop
Designs by Maida Chicago interior designer Maida Korte brings her HGTV style to this home-furnishings showroom. (815) 337-2046; www.designsbymaida.com
Read Between the Lynes The staff of teachers, avid readers and aspiring writers supply encyclopedic insight at this cozy bookseller. (815) 206-5967; readbetweenthelynes.com
What to do
Groundhog Days Festival Woodstock's annual Groundhog Days festival in early February includes trivia contests, storytelling, a chili cook-off, free film showings of the movie, and a guided walking tour of plaque-marked film sites. woodstockgroundhog.org
Groundhog Day Walking Tour The two-hour tour of Groundhog Day's film sites draws crowds during the annual festival. If you're in the area outside of the festival dates, you can take the walking tour on your own; just download a map from the festival website. woodstockgroundhog.org/pages/tour.html
For more information: McHenry County Convention and Visitors Bureau (888) 363-6177; visitmchenrycounty.com