Fun Foodie Day Trips in the Chicago Area

Check out these culinary-inspired adventures.

Credit: Anna Shea Chocolates & Lounge
Credit: Anna Shea Chocolates & Lounge
Written by Bridgette Outten

The Chicago area is home to some great eats and treats. But after you've grabbed a Chicago-style hot dog, scarfed some deep dish pizza and toured the city's various ethnic restaurants, there are a few more culinary destinations you may want to visit. The best part? They're only one tank of gas (or less) away.

Anna Shea Chocolates & Lounge
100 W. Higgins Rd., Suite E5
South Barrington, IL
(847) 428-5446

Why Go? The shop boasts meticulously handcrafted specialty chocolates.

Insider Tip:
Take a look at this flavor chart to help you begin your tasting or help you discover a new favorite. 

Must Do:
Cozy up to the fireplace and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate with a friend—or a date.  

The Fine Print:
Prices for eating and drinking at the lounge can range from $2.75 for a cup of coffee to $53 for a 24-piece box of signature bonbons. The candy is preservative-free and has a shelf life of three weeks. Be sure to take a look at customer service and the shipping policy before you place an order. Hours of service are 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. Monday - Thursday, 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday. 

Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery
4410 N. Lincoln Ave.
Champaign, Illinois  

Why Go?
 Started in 2003, the business has a herd of 70 milkers and makes seasonal artisan goat cheeses and sheep milk cheeses.

Insider Tip: 
Prairie Fruits gives tours showing how the farm works. You also can register for the 2014 season of farm dinners, so keep an eye on the dinner schedule and on the farm's Facebook page to check out other upcoming events.

Must Do:
The farm has merchandise. The special sales page has items like t-shirts, sweatshirts and goat milk soap.

The Fine Print: 
The winter season is a bit slow for the farm but that doesn't mean you can't plan for a trip when the weather breaks. Tours are $5 for children and $8 for adults, and they take place rain or shine. The farm's blog is an excellent source of information about upcoming events and more.

1401 Middle Fork Dr.
Lake Forest, Ill.

Why Go? 
The farm features a two-acre garden, cooking classes and various programs focused on photography and flower arranging.

Insider Tip:
Cooking classes are $75 but can cost more if you need to purchase extra supplies.

Must Do:
 Elawa Farms, which has a thriving garden, presses and sells dried flowers. Pick up some as a centerpiece for your dinner or coffee table. Check out this video for more info. 

The Fine Print:
Tour the farm during the winter season to check out winter vegetable crops. The farm's staff told reporters that lettuce, spinach, kale, Swiss chard, carrots, rutabagas and sprouts are still available for restaurant and private sale. The farm is open daily from 9 a.m. until dusk.

Cheney Mansion
220 North Euclid
Oak Park, IL 60302
Phone (708) 725-2500 

Why Go?
 Cooking classes for kids are offered at the historic Cheney Mansion operated by the Park District of Oak Park.

Insider Tip: 
Oak Park residents get a $5 discount on cooking classes, which are $40 for non-residents.

Must Do: 
February's Chinese New Year Celebration class ushering in the Year of the Horse is a great way for young foodies to learn how to prepare spring rolls, twice-cooked beef and sweet and sour pork kebobs.

The Fine Print: 
Class schedule varies, so be sure to check the website. The Chinese New Year new class is from 9:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, Feb. 8 while a Tacos & Nachos class will take place 9:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, March 8. 


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