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.
Where to shop
Seasons by Peg At this seasonal home decor and gift shop, patrons find home-decorating eye candy and tasty sweets. The glass counter displays as many as 30 kinds of hand-dipped chocolates, turtles and toffees, plus Cobblestones gourmet foods. (815) 206-3666; seasonsbypeg.com
Designs by Maida Chicago interior designer Maida Korte brings her HGTV style to this home-furnishings showroom. (815) 337-2046; www.designsbymaida.com
Green Box Boutique You'll find fair-trade, local and ecofriendly goods sold in the gallery setting on the town square; wines from nearby Salute Vineyard are available. (815) 337-7303; greenboxboutique.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 eary 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
Where to eat
La Petite Creperie Located in a Victorian home, this French bistro serves savory and sweet dessert crepes and specials, all big enough to share. The sauteed chicken and goat cheese Pagnol crepe pairs well with a glass of crisp white wine. (815) 337-0765; lapetitecreperie.net
Where to stay
Royal Victorian Manor Owners Karla and Everton Martin restored the 1894 Victorian mansion and opened it to guests in 2010. This five-guest-suite B&B features luxurious touches. You won't find froufrou, and you'll enjoy the big breakfast, served on china and crystal. (815) 308-5432; royalvictorianmanor.com
For more information: McHenry County Convention and Visitors Bureau (888) 363-6177; visitmchenrycounty.com
Prices, dates and other details are subject to change, so please check specifics before making travel plans.