When we determined we’d be headed to Illinois for Drew’s powerlifting seminar, you can bet your bottom dollar I was beaming with excitement. I really love the Chicago area, especially in the winter. Most people reading this that have been to Illinois in the winter are probably shaking their heads in disbelief. But it’s pretty simple, I am used to that bitter wet cold having lived in Texas and Tennessee. And it’s worth exploring in that kind of weather when you’re in such a culturally rich area.

What would be most exciting about this trip was that we were going to be spending it in DuPage County, a lively and beautiful suburb of Chicago. If you know me, you know I prefer places like this. The hustle and bustle of a downtown metropolitan area doesn’t do much for me, but big gorgeous trees and historic neighborhoods you can drive through slowly are my jam. So I reached out to their CVB and got the ball rolling on some recommendations for our trip. We spent the night in Chicago after landing before heading just about 35 minutes out of the heart of the city for our destination: Glen Ellyn.

DuPage County was so generous in helping us find accommodations for our stay and helped us get a great rate at the Crowne Plaza Glen Ellyn. Conveniently off the highway and surrounded by some solid food options, we enjoyed the spacious room and fabulous tub! Having a restaurant in the hotel was such a perk too, allowing us to have breakfast in bed before Drew’s seminar. Centrally located, it also made for a great basecamp for what we planned to do in town!

When we arrived we had a few hours to kill before dinner, so we decided it was the best time to head to the Morton Arboretum to do some troll hunting. When I learned of this activity, I was definitely confused at first but knew we had to check it out. Plus, it’s been years since I’ve visited an arboretum! This one is particularly special with over 222,000 living plants and one of the most comprehensive collection of North American trees. Even in the winter, so much vegetation proved to look incredible. So take all of that and add in a hunt for some 15-30 foot tall trolls strewn about 1,700 acres? SO THERE. Despite the chilly wind, Drew and I ran around the arboretum for an a hour or two looking for these incredible structures by Thomas Dambo. If you live in Colorado and that name sounds familiar, he’s the same artist that built the Breck Troll! We managed to find all six trolls and maybe grabbed a pic which a couple of them.

We made a reservation for that evening at Mesón Sabika, a Spanish restaurant tucked inside of a historic mansion. The timing was perfect, as I was steadily approaching my two-year anniversary since being in Spain! I am always down for some seafood paella and Drew was stoked to experience tapas for the first time as well. When you arrive, you’ll walk up to this incredibly opulent home with large pillars. It’s absolutely gorgeous, you’ll have a hard time walking in! But once you do, the beauty continues with the coziness of Mesón’s interior. Dimly lit rooms with crystal chandeliers and rich carpeting, it felt like a warm hug inside. We studied the menu before deciding on some different tapas, a sangria flight and of course: seafood paella. Our server was fantastic and incredibly helpful! We loved the vibe of the restaurant and highly recommend you check it out. We had a baked escargot dish and bruschetta style tapas: delicious. My sangria flight? Also delicious. And heavy! Woo! Our seafood paella? I think you can guess it, delicious. We left full of delicious food and excited to crash.

The next day was Drew’s seminar, I spent it exploring some of the woods between our hotel and the gym. Historic buildings as part of a youth campground caught my attention on our drive and were even more interesting up close. We’d fly out super early the next day, so our last day wasn’t super adventurous but it sure was relaxing. I really loved our time in DuPage and hope we can return in the spring or summer when the arboretum is in full bloom! If you’re visiting Illinois before 4/30/19, however, you should hit the trails and hunt for Thomas Dambo’s six guardians of the forest. The trolls should be there until then and are definitely worth the trip!

Big thank you again to DuPage County’s CVB for helping us DuMore in DuPage!