Okay boys and girls, off on a time warp into the not-so-distant past as we back trap into our daytrip to suburban DuPage County, aka Chicago’s reddest neighbor. Shake off all your worries about evangelical (Cray, Cray) Wheaton, the conservativeness of the county as a whole and the June Cleaver mentality that seems to have never left. Shrug that shit off, we are off to smell some flower genitals and see what else good ole Republican DuPage county has to offer!
Lilac Time! In tiny Lilicia Park, (150 South Park Avenue, Lombard, Illinois) the village of Lombard has been growing over 800 Lilacs and planting 25,000 tulip bulbs for your smelling pleasure since 1930. This is more than just a one day festival, this month long festival virtually encompasses Lombard. From the crowing of a Lilac Queen, to a wine walks, parades, 5ks and more, this suburban community totally embraces it’s Lilac heritage. So why make the trek out west for Lilac Time? Well first, it smells amazing. It’s like literally walking through a Glade air freshener without the possible exposure to cancer. Second, it’s free, there isn’t even a suggested donation. Just walk on in and stroll the grounds (your nose will thank you). Third, Lombard is a cute town. One horse would be a way to describe it, with just a minuscule downtown compared to it’s neighbors of Wheaton and Elmhurst, what it lacks in size it makes up for in character (it’s one of the few cases were size really doesn’t matter). So get in your, hop on your bike, ride Metra, get your dierre to Lombard, Lilac Time! Starting in the beginning of May and going until the end of the month, Lilac Time is a feast for the eyes and an orgy for your nose.
Tulips, Tulips EVERYWHERE! Along with lilacs of various shades, these beloved Dutch beauties abound the grounds. How popular are they? Well almost everywhere you walked, there were couples, recent graduates, and children posing in front of them as friends and family took photos. What happened to the days of going to studios to take photos?
Babcock’s Grove House Restaurant, (101 W St Charles Rd, Lombard, IL )an amazing, locally owned restaurant located in downtown Lombard is housed in Lombard’s oldest building (built in 1858). Named after Ralph and Morgan Babcock, Lombard’s first settles, this place has been dishing out locally grown culinary delights since 2016. Babcock’s Grove House was a complete surprise. I in all honesty was not expecting a restaurant of this caliber in Lombard. Different, different would be the way to describe this place. It’s a hybrid restaurant; meaning you order at the counter and they bring your meal to you. They don’t take reservations (so if you’re one of those bougie “I need a reservation type, best hightail yourself to Elmhurst), there television in the place, nor Wi-Fi, so you best come with someone entertaining, otherwise you’re going to be in for a long, awkward and silent meal.
“Get it my mouth!” (and what you said last night, but that’s none of my business) is what I said when my spinach Brie apple salad came out. Called “The Fernindad” this is literally one of the best things I’ve had in my mouth lately (Before anybody says anything smart, get your mind out of the gutter!) Did I mention Brie. ALL of the Brie, I swear there was probably half a pound of creamy dairy deliciousness in this salad. Along with some wicked bacon. Healthy? Of course not, but absolutely delish. The best part? This huge salad was ONLY $10! Honestly, what can you get in Chicago’s North side for ten bucks aside from a burger that’s as greasy as an unwashed teenager with acne?
And of course, since Jared is a proud Kraut, he got the chicken schnitzel. Since Jared avoids potatoes like the Black Plague (Potatoes are on a long list of food this picky eater will not eat) he opted for an organic and locally grown salad. Jared said it was good, and I can agree since when he went to the bathroom I graciously helped myself to some myself! For a mere $14, this was a steal. Fourteen bucks is a cocktail in Andersonville(Yes, Marty’s Martini Bar, I’m looking at you, gurl!). This place should definatley be your go to when noshing in Lombard for Lilac Time, it’s a mere stone’s throw away from Lilacia Park!
But on the way there this oddity came up (and me being a Dutchophile) and we had to stop. What’s up with this windmill house? This local landmark was built in 1942 by a German immigrant family who raised 12 children in the home and has been in the same family since. The youngest child is the current owner and I’m sure is quite used to people trampling over his manicured lawn in order to get a good photo of this unique house. Want to drive by and see this gem at 0N576 Gary Ave., Wheaton, Illinois
Onto the Fabyan Villa (Riverbank) to soak up some history, serenity, and see a work of art by the Midwest’s golden child, Frank Lloyd Wright. Built by Colonel George and Nelle Fabyan , this villa was redesigned by famed architect, Frank Lloyd Wright in 1907. The entire grounds are amazing and massive, a whooping 325 acres, Fabyan, who was a millionaire and pioneer in the field of cryptography spared no expense when creating Riverbend. A private zoo, lighthouse, Roman-era inspired swimming pool, grottos, and a breathtaking Japanese garden. Ah, the Japanese garden, built in 1910 this a stunning slice of Imperial Japan imported to Illinois. Designed by Japanese garden designer, Taro Otsuka, it was strongly influenced by the Fabyan’s trip to Chicago’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. After the Fabyan’s death, the garden languished until 1974 when it was restored by the efforts of Geneva Garden Club. Heads up on their hours, or you’ll be hoping a low fence to get a good look into the garden since they are closed on Saturdays!
Japanese Garden Hours:
Regular Hours May 6–October 15
Wednesday 1:00-4:00 p.m.
Thursday 1:00-4:00 p.m. (June–August)
Sundays 1:00-4:30 p.m. (May 6–October 15)
The Villa itself is unusual but then again strolling the grounds of the estate you’ll learn that the Fabyan’s loved them some unusualness. I know I will lose both historical and Midwestern points for this but I am not a fan of Frank Lloyd Wright. In my opinion he is beyond pompous, built many buildings that were innovative yes, but poorly constructed (ask the people at Wingspread about the skylights that started leaking the first year after completion) However despite my opinions on the architect, it is still a lovely piece of prarie school architecture in a beautiful setting. This estate is not to be missed, especially since you can tour the grounds for absolutely FREE!
“It’s the cat’s vagina, that’s the expression, right” Yes, Jared clearly is enjoying the riparian views of Riverbank!
May 1 – October 15
Wednesdays: 1-4 p.m.
Thursdays/Kid’s Days (June-August only): 1-4 p.m.
Saturdays & Sundays: 1-4:30 p.m.
And of course a trip to the western burbs would not be complete without stopping at the famous Campana Factory (901 N Batavia Ave, Batavia, IL 60510). It’s visible from so many places and a literal phallic spire in this generally low density area. Built for Campana and their (then) famous line of Italian Balm lotion (It rubs the lotion on the skin, or else it gets the hose again) this factory is a striking example of Art Deco architecture. Recently the center of a controversy due to a developer’s interest in converting this shuttered landmark into apartments, the plans fell thru and it still currently sits vacant. Heaven forbid renters living in boogie Batavia…but I digress.
So go! Smell some flowers, it’s FUCKING free, get your city dwelling self a good hefty dose of Mother Nature, maybe get some sun (but remember that sunblock…ain’t nobody got time for wrinkles) and enjoy Cook County’s neighbor county.