135 Reasons to Go Outside in Aurora
Mastodon Lake in Aurora, IL
Imagine a brilliant bouquet of 15,000 annuals – and being able to take it in for free. That’s precisely what draws some 1,200-1,500 visitors to the Sunken Garden at Aurora’s Phillips Park every weekend. The three-tiered fountain, statues, ornamental grasses, shrubs and topiaries all have their regular fans. Garden of Delights Of course, the fact that it’s connected to more than two miles of walking trails and a free zoo is a big plus. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy all four seasons by walking, jogging or biking along the Fox River Trail. The 36-mile asphalt trail begins in downtown Aurora and runs north beyond Crystal Lake. There is also a 3-mile Fox River Trail East that runs along the east side of the Fox River and connects to the Illinois Prairie Path. If you prefer to sit down and relax for a few hours, perhaps a trip to the ballpark is in order. The Kane County Cougars are a Class A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics. The Cougars treat fans with contests every half inning, giveaways, musical entertainment and fireworks. The team’s mascot, Ozzie the Cougar, is also a crowd pleaser. So Much to Do The variety of things to do is certainly one of the lures of the Aurora area. You don’t need to be a sly detective to find neighborhood parks or hiking trails in the Fox Valley. There are 135 parks and 33 miles of trails that are maintained by the Aurora-based Fox Valley Park District. The district oversees an area that encompasses 57 square miles of land as well as 22 miles of shoreline along the Fox River, which runs through town. The Fox Valley Park District also maintains Blackberry Farm, Red Oak Nature Center, Fox Bend Golf Course, Orchard Valley Golf Course, Aurora Tennis Club, Splash Country Water Park and the Phillips Park Family Aquatic Center as well as 78 playgrounds, 60 basketball courts, 29 outdoor tennis courts and nine indoor tennis courts. In addition, the district maintains bike paths that wind through Aurora and are ideal for rollerblading, bicycling, jogging or walking. Aurora also organizes canoe races and a 10K run and it operates community centers that offer preschool classes, arts and crafts, dance classes and many senior activities. The Fox Valley Park District is also involved with a series of summer activities aimed at schoolchildren, including art camps, sports camps, concerts and plays.