35 Things To Do in Aurora

By Janet Benoir – May 17, 2024

Welcome to Aurora, Illinois, a vibrant city that shines bright with an array of activities and attractions that cater to every interest and age group. Whether you’re an art aficionado, a nature lover, a history enthusiast, or simply in search of family fun, Aurora offers a compelling blend of city life and scenic beauty.

Here are 35 exciting things to do in Aurora that promise to enchant and entertain:

Abbey Farms

At Abbey Farms, step into a world where the rustic charm of the countryside meets the delight of seasonal festivities. Whether it’s finding your way through a corn maze or picking the perfect pumpkin, each visit offers a new way to connect with nature. Wrap up your outdoor adventure with the farm’s famous homemade donuts—a treat that draws visitors from afar.

Abbey Farms

Year-round, Abbey Farms transforms into a picturesque marketplace for holiday essentials like Christmas trees and festive wreaths. It’s more than just a place to visit; it’s an immersive experience where the fresh scent of produce and the earthy aroma of the fields enhance your rustic adventure. Here, simple joys meet memorable experiences, making each visit uniquely special.

Paramount Theatre

The Paramount Theatre is a cornerstone of Aurora’s vibrant cultural scene, nestled in a stunning Art Deco building that transports visitors back to a more glamorous era. This venue is renowned for its Broadway-caliber productions that captivate audiences with spectacular performances and elaborate stagings, making it a rival to Chicago’s prestigious theater district.

Paramount Theatre

The Paramount is a gateway to a world brimming with imagination and creativity. It offers a diverse year-round program of musicals, plays, and concerts, ensuring that every visit is a fresh and memorable experience. Whether you’re absorbing the intense emotion of a classic play or enjoying the lively spirit of a contemporary musical, spending an evening at the Paramount is a standout experience during any trip to Aurora.

RiverEdge Park

RiverEdge Park, nestled along the scenic Fox River in Aurora, is a hub for outdoor concerts and vibrant festivals. As diverse music styles fill the air—from rock bands to symphonies—the park transforms into a lively scene of picnics, dancing, and shared enjoyment. It’s a place where music lovers of all types come together, creating a colorful and joyful tapestry of communal experiences.

RiverEdge Park

More than just a venue for concerts, RiverEdge Park is a dynamic gathering spot where summer evenings are illuminated by fireworks and resonant with the sound of guitar strums and joyful laughter. Here, whether you choose to relax on a blanket under the stars or mingle near the stage, the atmosphere is always electric with energy and excitement, making every visit memorable.

Phillips Park

Phillips Park is a diverse and expansive space that offers something for every visitor. Families will enjoy the free zoo, where children can see a variety of animals from different parts of the world. The park is also home to a well-maintained golf course, providing a peaceful setting for both novice and experienced golfers to enjoy a round under the open sky.

Phillips Park

The park features enchanting sunken gardens that resemble scenes from a storybook, offering a tranquil place for visitors to take a leisurely walk or simply relax in beautifully landscaped surroundings. During the summer months, the aquatic center becomes a popular spot for cooling off and enjoying water activities, making Phillips Park a favored location for both relaxation and active fun.

Hollywood Casino

Step into the thrilling world of Hollywood Casino in downtown Aurora, where the buzz of slot machines and poker games offers a glimpse into the exhilarating world of gambling. This vibrant casino is perfect for both seasoned bettors and newcomers alike, providing a wide range of gaming options that promise the thrill of a big win.

Hollywood Casino

More than just a place for gambling, Hollywood Casino stands as a bustling hub of nightlife and entertainment. Enjoy a night out filled with live performances, a variety of dining experiences, and the chance to dance the night away. It’s an ideal destination for anyone looking to indulge in gourmet dining or to simply enjoy a lively evening in Aurora.

Splash Country Water Park

Splash Country Water Park is the ultimate summer destination, where visitors of all ages can enjoy exhilarating water slides and a relaxing lazy river. Whether you’re seeking a thrill or a peaceful day under the sun, this aquatic paradise has something for everyone. From adventurous water activities to leisurely poolside relaxation, it’s a top spot for a fun-filled family day out.

Splash Country Water Park

The park also features interactive play areas that keep younger guests entertained, while adults appreciate the comfort of spacious loungers by the pool. At Splash Country Water Park, you can dive into the cool waters for an active day of fun or bask in the warmth of the sun for a more serene experience, making it an ideal place to cool off and make lasting memories with family and friends.

Aurora Regional Fire Museum

Step into the Aurora Regional Fire Museum and delve into the valiant world of firefighting. Housed in a beautifully restored 1894 fire station, the museum displays an extensive collection of firefighting equipment and memorabilia, vividly narrating the history and evolution of fire safety. Its authentic setting and captivating artifacts provide a window into the courageous lives of firefighters.

Aurora Regional Fire Museum

The museum is designed to be interactive, allowing visitors of all ages to touch and explore the equipment used in firefighting. Educational programs highlight the essential skills of the profession, engaging everyone from children who marvel at climbing on a vintage fire truck to adults fascinated by the rich history of these community heroes. It’s a place where history meets hands-on learning.

Red Oak Nature Center

Red Oak Nature Center, set along the picturesque Fox River, serves as a delightful sanctuary for nature lovers. The center features a variety of trails meandering through verdant woods and along the river, offering a perfect setting for a rejuvenating stroll or a quiet afternoon immersed in nature.

Red Oak Nature Center

Additionally, the center includes an observation deck with sweeping views of the Fox River, appealing to bird watchers and photographers. With its seasonal exhibits and educational programs, Red Oak Nature Center provides a rich, engaging experience that promises both relaxation and discovery with every visit.

Banana Split, Inc.

Step back in time at Banana Split, Inc., an iconic ice cream shop that has been delighting dessert aficionados since the early ’80s. Known for its classic banana splits and an assortment of frozen treats, this beloved establishment is a highlight for anyone seeking the perfect scoop of nostalgia mixed with sweet indulgence.

Banana Split, Inc.

Located conveniently across from Garfield Park, Banana Split, Inc. offers a charming spot to savor your ice cream while seated on outdoor benches amidst a relaxing ambiance. The shop’s friendly service and creamy delights make it an ideal destination for those looking to enjoy simple, joyous moments over a delicious treat.

Fox Valley Mall

Fox Valley Mall stands as a bustling center of commerce and fun in Aurora, packed with the latest in fashion, tech, and dining. It caters to a diverse crowd with its mix of upscale brands and wallet-friendly favorites, ensuring every visitor finds something to suit their taste and budget.

Fox Valley Mall

With its vibrant events calendar and thoughtful design that includes play zones and cozy resting spots, the mall is more than just a shopping destination—it’s a community gathering place. Whether you’re refreshing your style, picking out a thoughtful gift, or indulging in a new device, Fox Valley Mall offers a lively and comprehensive shopping experience.

Garfield Park

Nestled in the heart of Aurora, Garfield Park is a sanctuary for those seeking a serene retreat from the chilly outdoors during winter months. With its warm indoor spaces, families can enjoy a variety of activities that make every visit memorable, fostering moments of joy and laughter in a cozy setting.

Garfield Park

The park also serves as a venue for engaging community events that bring the spirit of Aurora to life. Whether it’s a craft workshop, a festive gathering, or a quiet afternoon escape, Garfield Park provides the perfect backdrop for building lasting family memories, regardless of the season.

Sport Zone Park

Sport Zone Park is a thrilling hub for adrenaline seekers and sports enthusiasts alike. With an array of activities from high-speed go-kart racing to challenging indoor golf, this amusement park promises an action-packed day out. It’s a place where you can test your limits and compete with friends and family in a fun and energetic environment.

Sport Zone Park

Moreover, the park caters to visitors of all ages, ensuring that everyone from young children to competitive adults finds something to ignite their competitive spirit. It’s not just a day out; it’s an opportunity to hone your skills and enjoy some wholesome competition.

Peck Farm Park

Peck Farm Park in Aurora is a hub of natural beauty and educational opportunity, especially known for its Butterfly House. Here, visitors of all ages can delve into the enchanting world of butterflies, gaining a magical and informative experience that captures the wonder of nature.

Peck Farm Park

Next to the Butterfly House, the Hawks Hollow Nature Playground provides a dynamic environment where children can engage directly with nature. This innovative playground is designed to educate through play, equipped with eco-friendly features that encourage kids to learn about and appreciate the environment as they explore and have fun.

Cantigny Park

Cantigny Park is a vast estate that offers a unique blend of U.S. military history and stunning garden landscapes. Visitors can explore an extensive collection of military artifacts and tanks, providing an educational journey through America’s armed forces history. The park’s grounds are equally captivating, with their well-kept gardens featuring a riot of colorful blooms and serene pathways.

Cantigny Park

The park doesn’t just stop at visual splendor; it also serves as a cultural center with its array of seasonal events and workshops. From crafting sessions to horticultural classes, Cantigny provides diverse experiences that enrich every visit, making it more than just a visual delight but a place for active learning and engagement.

Blackberry Farm

Blackberry Farm immerses visitors in a pioneer village where history is brought to life. You can explore the scenic area on a vintage steam train, experiencing firsthand how early American settlers lived. This blend of education and entertainment makes history accessible and engaging, providing a hands-on journey through the past.

Blackberry Farm

Throughout the year, Blackberry Farm transforms to celebrate the changing seasons. With pumpkin patches in the fall and festive holiday events in the winter, it becomes a hub of seasonal joy. These events offer families a chance to enjoy traditions and create new memories, making the farm a beloved destination all year round.

Basement of the Dead Haunted House

Step into the chilling realm of the Basement of the Dead Haunted House, celebrated as one of America’s most terrifying attractions. Every corner is crafted to deliver spine-tingling scares, combining advanced horror technology with classic frights designed to challenge even the most daring visitors. As you wander through the dimly lit corridors, each turn offers a new shock, with horrors meticulously arranged to make your heart race.

Basement of the Dead Haunted House

Prepare for an adrenaline-fueled experience as you navigate through this haunted maze, where each room is a test of your bravery. The Basement of the Dead is renowned for its high-quality scares and stunning special effects. Ideal for thrill-seekers and horror lovers alike, this haunted house invites you to plunge into an adventure that explores the depths of terror and tests the limits of your fear.

Chicago Premium Outlets

Chicago Premium Outlets is a haven for shoppers in Aurora, combining fashion, convenience, and unbeatable deals. This expansive outdoor mall features over 160 stores, from high-end brands to popular retail labels, offering discounts that attract budget-conscious and fashion-forward shoppers alike. Here, you’ll find everything from luxury items to daily necessities, catering to all tastes and needs.

Chicago Premium Outlets

Beyond just shopping, the outlets provide a visually appealing setting complete with landscaped surroundings, a play area for kids, and various seasonal events that enhance the shopping experience. Whether you’re updating your wardrobe, looking for the perfect gift, or simply enjoying a leisurely walk, Chicago Premium Outlets offers an enjoyable and affordable day out in a well-crafted environment.

Aurora University

Aurora University stands as a pivotal part of the city, blending educational excellence with architectural charm. Renowned for its academic offerings and peaceful campus environment, the university invites visitors to explore its mix of modern and historic buildings while possibly experiencing student-led events. This picturesque setting reflects the institution’s dedication to fostering a supportive academic community.

Aurora University

Frequently buzzing with activity, the university serves as a venue for various cultural and sporting events, enriching Aurora’s vibrant community life. Tourists and locals visiting the campus can glimpse the dynamic interactions of students and faculty, offering insights into Aurora’s robust educational culture and its impact on the community. This lively atmosphere not only entertains but also underscores the city’s rich educational traditions.

DuPage Children’s Museum

The DuPage Children’s Museum stands as a beacon of interactive learning, specifically tailored for young explorers. It’s a vibrant space filled with hands-on exhibits that encourage kids to touch, play, and discover, sparking creativity and enhancing critical thinking across science, arts, and mathematics. Each display is crafted to ignite a lifelong passion for learning, making it a place where education and enjoyment blend seamlessly.

DuPage Children’s Museum

Not only is the museum a playground for the mind, but it also offers educational workshops and events that captivate and educate both children and parents. As children engage with the exhibits, they experience the joy of learning through play, creating precious memories. It’s more than just a museum; it’s a community hub where laughter and learning resonate, fostering meaningful family connections.

SciTech Hands On Museum

Visit the SciTech Hands On Museum to spark your interest in science and technology. This family-friendly museum is packed with interactive and innovative displays that make learning about science, from physics to astronomy, both accessible and enjoyable. Its hands-on exhibits are designed to inspire visitors of all ages, stimulating curiosity and encouraging imaginative exploration.

SciTech Hands On Museum

Explore the mysteries of the natural world through exhibits that make complex scientific principles approachable and captivating. The museum continuously updates its displays to include the latest technology and seasonal features, making each visit uniquely enlightening. Experience phenomena like tornado vortices or delve into the mechanics of flight; the SciTech Hands On Museum provides an educational adventure that is as entertaining as it is informative.

Waubonsie Lake Park

Waubonsie Lake Park is a tranquil haven perfect for various outdoor activities. With well-kept trails winding around a picturesque lake, the park is ideal for hiking, biking, or enjoying a quiet picnic. Its peaceful surroundings provide a soothing backdrop for a morning jog or a leisurely afternoon immersed in nature, allowing every visitor a chance to relax and soak in the scenic views.

Waubonsie Lake Park

The park also caters to fishing enthusiasts and bird watchers. The stocked lake offers excellent opportunities for anglers of all abilities to enjoy a successful day of fishing. Additionally, the diverse ecosystems within the park support a variety of bird species, making it a delightful spot for bird watching. Waubonsie Lake Park’s combination of natural beauty and recreational activities makes it a valued asset to the community.

Oddlots HQ

Step into Oddlots HQ and discover a world where art pushes the boundaries of the conventional. This gallery isn’t just about displaying art; it’s about immersing you in an experience that provokes thought and stirs the soul. With a diverse array of contemporary and experimental pieces, each visit offers a new perspective, inviting deep engagement and reflection that makes every exploration unique.

Oddlots HQ

Known for its dedication to highlighting underrepresented artists and innovative works, Oddlots HQ also serves as a vibrant hub for the art community. The gallery regularly organizes events and exhibitions that draw artists, collectors, and art lovers together, creating a lively atmosphere for networking and inspiration. Whether you’re deeply invested in the arts or just beginning to explore, Oddlots HQ provides a compelling glimpse into cutting-edge artistic expression.

The Sunken Garden

Explore the serene beauty of The Sunken Garden in Aurora, a peaceful oasis hidden away from the city’s hustle. With its beautifully manicured landscapes and shaded walkways, this garden offers a quiet retreat where the plant selections bloom harmoniously, creating a vivid display of colors and fragrances that calm the mind and enchant the senses.

The Sunken Garden

The Sunken Garden is an ideal spot for those looking to unwind. Whether you’re taking a meditative stroll, enjoying a quiet read, or capturing its beauty through photography, the garden’s design promotes relaxation and introspection. It stands as a favorite escape for anyone seeking tranquility and a close connection with nature, providing a gentle respite from the urban environment.

Gary Brown Art

At Gary Brown Art, the gallery comes alive with vibrant canvases and intricate sculptures that each tell a unique story. Created by the talented Gary Brown, his artworks reflect contemporary life and landscapes, offering visitors a deep emotional and narrative experience. This space isn’t just for viewing art; it’s a place to truly experience and connect with the stories painted and sculpted by Brown.

Gary Brown Art

Serving as a cultural hub in Aurora, Gary Brown Art invites the community to dive into its artistic heartbeat. Guests can interact directly with the artworks, participate in workshops, and meet the artist himself. Whether you’re seeking a standout piece for your home or simply wish to admire local creativity, the gallery offers a welcoming and inspiring environment for all who visit.

Aurora Historical Museum

Visit the Aurora Historical Museum to explore Aurora’s rich past, from its early days as a small milling town to its growth into a vibrant urban hub. The museum’s extensive collections bring to life the city’s journey through industrial innovation and its diverse community spirit, offering a deep dive into its transformative history.

Aurora Historical Museum

Interactive displays and well-preserved artifacts at the museum highlight the achievements and contributions of Aurora’s residents. With special exhibitions that focus on key local events and notable figures, each visit provides a fresh perspective on the city’s heritage, inspiring pride and a greater understanding of its historical significance.

Fox River Trail

The Fox River Trail provides a picturesque route along the serene Fox River, perfect for biking, jogging, or simply enjoying a leisurely walk. This scenic trail acts as a vital greenway through Aurora, linking various communities with the beauty of natural landscapes and offering a peaceful retreat amid urban life.

Fox River Trail

As you traverse the path, expect to encounter peaceful river vistas, patches of dense woodlands, and an array of wildlife that captivates photographers and nature enthusiasts alike. With the seasons, the trail transforms, displaying a vibrant tapestry of colors—from the verdant greens of spring and summer to the brilliant golds and reds of fall—ensuring each visit is uniquely enchanting.

La Gran Plaza

La Gran Plaza buzzes with the vibrant energy of Aurora’s cultural heart, where locals and visitors alike come to shop, dine, and celebrate the community’s diverse heritage. Stalls brim with handcrafted goods, from intricate jewelry to colorful textiles, offering a taste of the local artisans’ craftsmanship.

La Gran Plaza

As you meander through the market, the air fills with the aroma of authentic dishes being cooked on open grills, tempting your taste buds. Regular cultural performances and festivals add to the lively atmosphere, making La Gran Plaza not just a market, but a vibrant festival of sights, sounds, and flavors.

Aurora’s Farmers Market

Nestled in the heart of the city, Aurora’s Farmers Market bursts with a vibrant mix of colors, smells, and sounds. Celebrated as one of the oldest markets in Illinois, it draws both locals and tourists who come to enjoy fresh, farm-to-table produce and artisanal goods. With live music and craft vendors, each visit becomes a lively celebration that stimulates all the senses.

Aurora's Farmers Market

Every stall at the market has a unique story, showcasing items like heirloom vegetables, handmade cheeses, fresh-baked bread, and local honey. Visitors have the chance to talk with the vendors, learning about the origins of their products and the passion behind their crafts. More than just a place to shop, the market offers a deep dive into local culture and a chance to celebrate Aurora’s rich agricultural traditions.

Aurora Public Art

Aurora welcomes you to explore its vibrant streets adorned with inspiring public art, turning the city into an expansive outdoor gallery. Embark on a self-guided tour of the city’s art installations, where sculptures, murals, and various pieces narrate Aurora’s rich historical and cultural essence, offering a deep dive into the creative spirit that permeates the city.

Aurora Public Art

As you wander through Aurora, each artwork tells a tale, marking significant historical events or celebrating the city’s diverse culture. This journey through Aurora’s art not only beautifies the streets but also ignites the imagination, connecting you intimately with the city’s lively character and community.

Mastodon Lake and Trail

Mastodon Lake and Trail provide a peaceful retreat steeped in historical significance, named after prehistoric discoveries in the region. The park features a scenic lake and inviting trails perfect for hiking, fishing, and wildlife watching. It’s a favored spot for those seeking relaxation and outdoor activities in a picturesque setting.

Mastodon Lake and Trail

As you explore the trails or fish in the calm lake, keep an eye out for the diverse wildlife that calls this place home. The lush surroundings are ideal for nature photography or enjoying a quiet picnic. Mastodon Lake offers more than just natural beauty; it serves as a gateway to history and a tranquil escape from everyday life.

Tanner House Museum

Step into the Tanner House Museum to experience the grandeur of Victorian-era Aurora. This beautifully preserved home showcases the lifestyle of the upper-middle class with its original furnishings, decor, and artifacts. Managed by the Aurora Historical Society, it offers a vivid glimpse into the lives of its former residents and the societal norms of their time.

Tanner House Museum

Explore the history of Aurora through guided tours at the Tanner House Museum that highlight social customs, fashion, and domestic life of the 19th century. With seasonal events and educational programs, the museum brings history to life, making it a compelling and educational visit for all ages. It serves not only as a historical site but as a gateway to understanding the evolution of Aurora and the broader Midwest.

Pioneer Park

Pioneer Park in Aurora is a vibrant community hub, perfect for family outings and sports enthusiasts alike. It boasts expansive green spaces, modern playgrounds, and excellent sports facilities that attract locals for picnics, athletic activities, and leisurely weekends. The park’s wide paths and beautiful landscaping create an ideal setting for jogging, biking, or strolling.

Pioneer Park

Additionally, Pioneer Park features designated courts for basketball and tennis, making it a popular spot for local athletes. The playgrounds are safe and innovatively designed to captivate children of all ages, ensuring a delightful and energetic visit. As a focal point of community life in Aurora, the park provides a welcoming space for both recreation and relaxation, embodying the city’s communal spirit.

The ArtBar

The ArtBar in Aurora is where creativity flows as freely as the craft cocktails. This trendy spot attracts a crowd that thrives on vibrant discussions and the appreciation of local art. Each visit offers a glimpse into the dynamic art scene, with walls adorned with pieces from emerging and established artists alike.

The ArtBar

Here, art and ambiance meet, creating a unique setting for an evening out. Whether you’re looking to unwind with a drink in hand or engage with Aurora’s artistic community, The ArtBar offers a palette of experiences that blend culture with nightlife.

Aurora Skate Center

Step into Aurora Skate Center and glide into the past on four wheels. This nostalgic venue brings the classic fun of roller skating to a new generation with its family-friendly environment and special theme nights that add a twist to traditional skating.

Aurora Skate Center

Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned skater, the rink offers a lively atmosphere perfect for parties, casual outings, or simply a fun way to stay active. With music pumping and lights flashing, the Aurora Skate Center is your ticket to a rolling good time.

The Comedy Shrine

The Comedy Shrine is Aurora’s premier destination for laughter, showcasing a vibrant mix of comedy styles from local and touring comedians. Whether you’re enjoying an edge-of-your-seat improv show or a stand-up routine that hits close to home, this venue is a hub of constant amusement and infectious laughter.

The Comedy Shrine

Beyond just a place to watch comedy, The Comedy Shrine is a community center for humor, offering workshops and open-mic nights that allow aspiring comedians to refine their skills and entertain audiences. It’s a place where laughter bonds people together, making it much more than your average comedy club.

Aurora offers a diverse mix of beautiful landscapes, historical sites, and lively community events, making every visit a chance to create new memories and discover something unique. It’s an ideal destination in Illinois for both thrilling adventures and enjoying well-loved attractions. Come to Aurora and experience everything it has to offer!