This winter, check out this list of fun and mostly free activities to do in downtown Aurora. Head out with your mask and enjoy some budget-friendly time in the City of Lights.
1. Strike a pose
There’s a reason why photographers in the Fox Valley choose downtown Aurora for many of their photos. We have great backdrops. From Sam Cervantes “Hope Wings” on East Galena Boulevard to the urban backgrounds provided by historic buildings and train overpasses. If you’re looking for a fun photo op to show off your masked face, then drop into Blissful Blooms, upstairs at Warehouse 55 at 55 S. Lake St., and find a dreamy, curated backdrop that is picture perfect. Tag @downtownaurora on Instagram for a chance to win goodies.
2. Shop vintage
Stop by Offbeat Thrift and Vintage, Warehouse 55, and The Hope Chest to discover the best in vintage finds. Offbeat Thrift and Vintage, inside Wyckwood House at 14 W. Downer Pl. Ste. 16, is a curated boutique of the best vintage clothes, handbags, shoes, and curios. Warehouse 55, found at 55 S. Lake St. at the corner of Downer Place, features dozens of vendors and is quickly becoming a destination for must-have antique and vintage pieces. The Hope Chest, 36 N. Lincoln Ave. is a full on thrift department store. Make sure to tag us on social with your finds!
3. Visit Aurora Express
This holiday season, downtown storefronts are decorated with trains and other modes of transportation from yesteryear and beyond. Experience the wonder and history of trains in dozens of festive displays by local artists.
4. Hot Cocoa To Go
Perhaps you are wearing your recently-purchased earmuffs from Wyckwood House, and you want to warm up with a steaming cup of hot cocoa. No problem. Visit one of downtown’s local coffee shops. Try the famous Abuelita Hot Chocolate at Altiro Coffee Shop, 9 S. Stolp Ave. Society 57, 100 S. River St., and Endiro Coffee, 29 W. New York St., both offer curbside pickup.
5. Architectural tour
Take a self-guided architectural tour of downtown Aurora using the nearly 30 historical markers located at landmarks and historic buildings. Discover more about downtown architecture HERE.
6. Find art
Go on a scavenger hunt and find public art throughout downtown Aurora. Aurora Public Art put together fun and colorful scavenger hunts for all ages to enjoy. No hints!
7. See local art
Pop into The Cotton Seed Creative Exchange, 8 N. Broadway, and see the work of local artist Tyler Waldrop, also known as Stlthart. The next block south features Gary Brown Art Gallery and Studio (pictured/photo by Amy Nelson Photography), 7 S. Broadway, which currently features a dozen local artists. Before leaving downtown, don’t miss a visit to McCarty Mills Taproom, 140 S. River St. Ste. 108 on the ground floor of the River Street Plaza condos. The taproom features beer and wine as well as a gallery wall with the works of rotating local artists. With many art museums closed due to Covid-19, this is a great way to take in some art and support local businesses.
8. A big star and a giant present
They only make appearances at the holidays, and they are huge. A photo-must, walk through the big “Aurora Star” at Mundy Park on Broadway adjacent to The Venue, 21 S. Broadway. Step into the larger-than-life gift box at the southeast corner of New York and River streets.
9. Play some music
After walking through the big star, pause at Aurora Downtown’s new Musical Garden at Mundy Park off of Water Street Mall, near City Hall. No notes or musical experience is needed to play these three xylophones. Find out more about the garden HERE.
10. Buy a slice of joy
Happiness can be purchased. If you haven’t had Tres Leches cake before, it is pure joy, and with a trio of Mexican bakeries downtown, you will be bursting with it. Get a slice of Tres Leches at La France Bakery, 118 E. Galena Blvd. Purchase whole cakes at La Central Bakery, 110 E. Galena Blvd., and Cinco de Mayo Bakery, 102 N. Lake St.