The Run Down
This guide has us venturing out of the city and into the suburbs. You'll make your way to Long Grove, IL, about a 40-minute drive northwest of Chicago. It's home to a small downtown with rural farming charm. You'll walk through cobblestone sidewalks, munch on apple cider donuts, rummage through antiques, and have a beer in the woods while your kids jump around on logs.
1. Long Grove Coffee
We’ve got a lot ahead of us, so we’re starting this guide with a coffee for you and hot chocolate for the kids at Long Grove Coffee. Like most businesses here, you’ll find this coffee shop in what looks like a traditional country farmhouse. Now imagine these types of buildings all clustered together, and you’ve got downtown Long Grove in a nutshell.
In terms of coffee, their menu has all sorts of fancy coffee concoctions using beans sourced from Chicago’s very own Passion House Coffee Roasters. Apples will be a bit of a theme in this guide, so if you need a drink recommendation, their caramel apple latte fits the bill.
With your caramel apple latte in hand, it only makes sense to pair that with these apple cider donuts. If you’re trying to convince the family that this is a worthwhile trip, just show them this giant pile of donuts.
3. Joanie’s Pizzeria
About a block away is another cluster of shops in Mill Ponde Shoppes. After browsing around the shops, start making your way down this winding path that descends a multi-level outdoor plaza. At the bottom, you’ll find Joanie’s Pizzeria, where you’ll stop for another round of eats.
Along the path, you’ll pass by another charming wine purveyor, Broken Earth Winery. While we didn’t stop in, you could easily repurpose these plans and turn them into a mini wine crawl while you’re here.
When you finally make it to Joanie’s, you’ll find some pretty damn good pizza and chicken on the menu. So, what type of pizza will you find in this Chicago suburb establishment? Detroit-style Sicilian, of course. If you haven’t had this style before, it’s got this super buttery, Foccacia-like crust that gives every bite an airy crunch. Not going to lie, but this gives Chicago-style deep dish a run for its money.
Lastly, they do something here called broasted fried chicken. Broasted chicken is like fried chicken, but it’s cooked using some proprietary method using a mix of pressure cooking and deep frying. Whatever they are doing works because this hits the fried chicken trifecta — super crispy, nicely seasoned, and non-greasy. That’s about all you can ask for in fried chicken.
4. Covered Bridge Creamery
After pizza and fried chicken, the natural thing to do is finish things off with ice cream. So head over about two blocks, and you’ll find Covered Bridge Creamery at the center of another collection of shops.
Their storefront has just an insane amount of small-town Americana vibes.
As far as their ice cream goes, they’ve got a rotating mix of experimental flavors.
If you’re having trouble choosing, how about picking the one ice cream flavor that’s mired in a fierce debate about its exact origins? I’m talking about their blue moon ice cream. The flavor is ubiquitous to the region and is basically Midwest childhood nostalgia in ice cream form. It’s a shade of bright blue and tastes like some mix of vanilla, cherry, and cotton candy. There’s so much intrigue around this that a reporter from the Chicago Tribune did some deep investigative work to uncover the truth.
One theory mentioned is that this was created by a Jewish chemist who fled Nazi-controlled Austria in 1939. Another theory credits an additive used in big pharma. Who knows, but this makes trying blue moon ice cream way more interesting.
5. Buffalo Creek Brewing
Your trip continues with your penultimate stop, Buffalo Creek Brewing. This is located a bit off from the main street, and if you weren’t looking for the place, you might not even realize it was there. Just follow the sidewalk towards the gravel lot from the ice cream shop. You’ll find your next stop in the corner of that lot.
Opened in 2017, this place has probably become one of Long Grove’s biggest attractions drawing families from around the surrounding suburbs. It all started when owner Mike Marr entered an amateur beer competition in 2012 and, after getting a good reception, turned it into this place five years later — a kid-friendly microbrewery with two floors of space and an alpine beer garden in the back.
Their alpine garden is the place to be when the weather is cooperating. At the center of it is a massive tent with string lights crisscrossing over the top. It’s enormous and offers plenty of space for the kids to stretch their legs and move around without getting in the way. Outside the tent and backing up directly into the woods are communal tables and different gathering spots. You can now finally have a drink in the woods without being asked intrusive questions like “what are you doing here,” or “get off my property.”
6. Long Grove Confectionary Co.
Before you head home, make one last pit stop to pick up some goodies for the road. Right next to Long Grove Coffee, where this day started, is Long Grove Confectionary Co. It’s basically like an old-timey general store filled with chocolates, baked goods, and apple cider donuts made in-house. This place also pumps out freshly baked apple pies all day, and you’re here to take one home.
Here’s their apple pie in all its glory. Good luck not trying to devour this all in one sitting.