Just northwest of downtown Chicago, Illinois you’ll find Arlington Heights, a charming village with a small-town feel. From Chicago, hop on the UP-NW Metra Rail line, enjoy your quick ride, and step out into Arlington Heights. Boasting a vibrant downtown of its own, Arlington Heights has beautiful sights, exciting entertainment and a pace that’s a little bit slower than the big city. Spend a couple of days there, and you’ll find yourself falling in love with the town’s style and energy.
Arlington Heights’ bustling downtown weaves together the perfect blend of the town’s rich history and its modern culture. The architecture and design of the downtown area reflect a past that dates back to the 1800s, while its dining, shopping, cultural events and festivals provide everything you’re looking for in a break from the big city.
The food scene in Downtown Arlington Heights is a gastronomical spread that you and your palate won’t want to miss. Home to approximately 40 restaurants, there’s something to please every taste bud. The delicious cuisines include a range of flavors from around the world—authentic Irish food, pizza, sushi, tapas, barbecue, Thai, Mexican and more. From a family dinner to outdoor dining to foodie events and beyond, immerse yourself in Arlington Heights’ restaurants and nightspots for a fun and delicious time out.
And don’t forget about the shopping. Arlington Heights has your retail therapy covered. The downtown area is peppered with unique shops and stylish boutiques where you can find one-of-a-kind gifts for friends and family—or for yourself. And if you’re looking for that staple item from your favorite national chain, you can find it and whatever else you need at the usual big box stores. The abundance of free parking makes shopping in Arlington Heights easy and convenient.
If you visit Arlington Heights between May and September, check out the Arlington International Racecourse. The first thoroughbred races took place on October 13, 1927, and it has celebrated more than 80 years of thrilling events, surviving the Great Depression and WWII. World-class trainers, jockeys and thoroughbreds have run this track over the years.
Opening Day on May 4th marks the start of the thrilling season with free general admission for those who reserve tickets online, prize giveaways, food and drink specials and a DJ to spin the tunes. You may not want the day to end, except that you’ll be looking forward to returning on the 5th for Derby Day. Get gussied up for a full afternoon featuring mint juleps, a hat contest (inclusive of both ladies and gentlemen), more prizes and a live band.
Described as “the most beautiful track in America,” the six-story grandstand, bright-green midfield and innovative synthetic racing surface are a sight to behold. In August, you won’t want to miss the annual Arlington International Festival of Racing (also known as the Arlington Million). It’s the biggest day in Illinois racing with some of the best racehorses in the world.
But there’s more than just racing going on at the track. During the regular season, you can enjoy events such as Horses & Hounds to learn how to help retired racehorses as well as check out a host of lovable dogs in need of a good home. And there is a rotation of party theme nights including Party in the Park After Dark and Sensational Seventies.
Check the schedule for their seasonal events such as craft fairs and home shows. With a rich history and an exciting future, Arlington International Racecourse is a must-see.
Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, is an ideal place to soak in some culture. Located in the heart of Downtown Arlington Heights, the 329-seat theater presents hundreds of performances including concerts, plays and comedy tours. A few famous acts that have performed there are The Bacon Brothers, Robert Cray and the BoDeans.
In addition to exciting concerts, the Centre is also home to the Metropolis School of Performing Arts. Aspiring artists from three to 70 years old can explore the performing arts and hone their musical, dancing and acting talents. From full-time programs to private lessons to performance camps and workshops, students learn from artists who are involved in productions at the Centre. And their Stories in Action series is a favorite among school children in the Chicagoland area.
Arlington Heights has a wonderful park district with everything from large green spaces and athletic fields to golf courses and lakes. The outdoor community spaces are one of the most popular destinations in town. There are plenty of places for children to play, tracks for bicyclists and runners, facilities for teams and sports leagues, or parks for friends and family to gather together.
Visit Lake Arlington to enjoy a relaxing morning with catch-and-release fishing before spreading out a picnic lunch on the sandy shores. Spend the afternoon paddling around the lake in a canoe, or take a sailing or kayaking lesson as a family. The outdoor spaces in Arlington Heights are perfect for making lifetime memories.
When it’s time to head back to the big city, the historic Metra Arlington Heights train station offers quick and easy access to the heart of Chicago. It won’t be long before you’ll be booking a return ticket, though. With so much to discover, Arlington Heights is one of those places you’ll want to visit again and again.