Take the dog, too
Fullersburg Woods (Oak Brook) has six miles of wooded trails along and around Salt Creek plus a one-mile self-guided interpretive trail. Its interactive Nature Education Center includes reconstructed remains of a 13,000-year-old woolly mammoth plus information on identifying animal tracks and birds that inhabit the woods today.
A half mile walk along the creek leads to Graue Mill Historic Site where Frederick Graue used the water power of Salt Creek to run his mill a century ago. Today, the mill is a National Historic Landmark and operates as it did in Graue's day. Buy some milled corn, pick up the recipe pamphlet, and challenge the kids to make corn pone for dinner.
For young ladies of all ages
For a taste of England without buying plane tickets, Pinecone Cottage (1029 Burlington Ave
Downers Grove) offers a full English afternoon tea in their cozy tea room. Bouquets of fresh flowers, real table cloths, and a pot of your selected tea provide a refreshing break to your hectic summer. A fresh-from-the-garden salad is followed by tea sandwiches such as golden beet slaw, wild mushroom, and chicken. Next come scones with Devon cream and fruit jam. A selection of sweets finishes off your quietly elegant afternoon in time to beat rush hour traffic.
With their "by the van load" $5 admission and shaded picnic area, Cantigny Park (1s151 Winfield Road, Wheaton) is a deal. The park has 3 miles of walking trails around the grounds and its 30 formal gardens. The First Division Museum has interactive exhibits and fascinating insights about America's military. A favorite attraction is the outdoor tank park featuring 100 years of military tanks the kids can - and will -- climb on.