They call it the winter doldrums, but what is there, really, to be sad about this time of year? Early spring fun abounds – if you know where to look.
- Enjoy the Outdoors
Across McHenry County, you’ll find more than 26,000 acres of preserved land with trails for hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. A hike through wooded terrain is great exercise, but it’s also a fantastic way to de-stress.
Try tracking animal prints through the snow or listening for owls. Sign up for a guided hike and explore preserves with an experienced trekker.
Visit Glacial Park, in Ringwood, and explore the visitors center exhibits. Marengo’s Coral Woods preserve and Riverwoods’ Ryerson Woods begin tapping maple trees and making syrup on March 6-7 and 14-15. The Nature Center, located at Crystal Lake’s Veteran Acres, hosts several nature-related exhibits, including a collection of rare fossils gathered in Illinois. Look for child-centered programs, as well.
- Think Greens …
And purples, and oranges and browns when you visit an indoor farmers market. This time of year, you won’t find sweet corn, but you will find a variety of local produce, from root vegetables and cold-loving greens to locally gathered honey, baked goods and artisan crafts. The Woodstock market operates the first and third Saturdays of the month at the McHenry County Fairgrounds, while Huntley’s indoor market happens the first Saturday of the month at the American Legion Hall downtown.
Meanwhile, gardeners can get a head start on the growing season. Local nurseries like Whispering Hills, in Crystal Lake, carry high-quality flower and vegetable seeds, and their on-staff designers can offer advice to get you started. Back home, start some of those seeds in a small pot and watch your garden grow.
- St. Patrick’s Day
Speaking of green, the city of McHenry dyes the Fox River green during Shamrocks the Fox, March 14-15. The city’s celebration of St. Patrick’s Day starts with a 5K and kids’ 400-meter dash at 8 a.m., then continues with a river dying, a parade at 11 a.m. and live entertainment lasting until 11 p.m. Family-friendly events continue Sunday from noon to 7 p.m., when a fireworks finale lights up the marina. Most events happen around Miller Point downtown.
- Experience the Arts
Raue Center for the Arts, in downtown Crystal Lake, hosts a variety of tribute bands, comedy performers and live theater all season.
Live musicians include Laurel Canyon Band on March 7 and a tribute to Van Morrison on March 14. Raue’s in-house theater troupe stages its next production, “Native Gardens,” March 27-May 9.
Barrington’s White House, in downtown Barrington, explores a wide cross-section of culture with intriguing lectures, live musicians and a monthly art opening. Explore the ancient world on March 1 and March 8. Classical pianist Llewellyn Sanchez-Werner returns on March 15, offering a prelude to the next 3rd Thursdays Art Night Out, a March 19 event that highlights pastel landscapes.
The Woodstock Opera House hosts open mic and jazz nights at the Stage Left Café on select Friday nights, and February ends with a performance by the Way Down Wanderers, who bring high-energy percussion mixed with mandolin, guitar, banjo and fiddles. March brings a staging of Roald Dahl’s “Matilda,” adapted for the stage, and a lecture on March 19 examining Chicago’s mid-century writers. Enjoy a night of laughs March 28, with four writers from “The Daily Show.”
- Go Antiquing
Treasure hunters know there are plenty of great places to find unique items.
Roscoe Woodstock Antique Mall, in Woodstock, features two floors of carefully cultivated selections.
Downtown Hebron has a number of quirky antiques shops, as does Ridgefield, a small town located between Crystal Lake and Woodstock.
In downtown Crystal Lake, find a variety of vendors at Crystal Lake Antiques Shop, and then head across the street to the cozy Carriage House Antiques.
Find a selection of antiques and vintage/repurposed items among the small vendors on Pepper Road, in Lake Barrington, before exploring fine English antiques at Caledonian and the eclectic collection at Steeplechase Antiques, both in Barrington.
Finally, while its goods aren’t necessarily antiques, Ginger Blossom, in Richmond, offers a barn and farmhouse filled with amazing finds gathered from craftsmen around the world. ❚