The Run Down

We're headed on an adventure to small town America just 40 miles west of Chicago. On this guide we're hopping on the Metra to Geneva, IL and starting the day off with breakfast brought to you by a world-renowned pastry chef, then we make our way through a massive row of boutique stores and antique shops. That's followed by a stroll through a Japanese garden and we end the day at a local brewery. Here are the highlights.

1. Breakfast @ All Chocolate Kitchen

2. Shopping @ Third Street

3. Nature Walk @ Fabyan Forest Preserve

4. Beer @ Penrose Brewing Company

1. All Chocolate Kitchen

We’re starting the day off early and saving our stomach for when we get to Geneva. You’ll be glad that you did, because the first stop is All Chocolate Kitchen, which is a casual order-at-the-counter cafe specializing in all sorts of pastries, chocolates, desserts, and savory breakfast items. This isn’t your run of the mill cafe — it’s run by Alain Roby who is a two time Guinness World Record holder, world-renowned, award winning, and master pastry chef.

2. Third Street

Geneva’s main thoroughfare runs several blocks along 3rd street, and it’s dotted with small shops, boutiques, cafes, and galleries — many of which are located inside residential homes that have been converted into shops. After breakfast, head down this street and check out what these local businesses have to offer.

There are tons of places to visit, but here are two shops that caught our eye to give you a feel of what Geneva has got going on.

Little Travelers

When we first walked past this place, it wasn’t super clear what this place was. From the outside it looks like a giant Victorian style house, but what we found inside was a maze of shops in 36 different rooms and a cafe located somewhere in the middle.

Here’s a fun fact. Little Travelers was established in the 1920’s, by a couple that would host tea parties and put on display their collection of items they acquired from across the world. Their parties eventually led to starting a shop inside their home, and brought about a trend of other homes on 3rd Street to converting into shops.

Mr. Cromwell’s Attic

Another store we ducked into was Mr. Cromwells’ Attic.  This was located on the second level a small converted home and had 6 rooms filled with a fascinating collection of British and European art, antiques, and clothes. Think 1960’s London, the Rolling Stones, and Beatles mania, and you’ll have a good idea of this store’s theme. On another note, you might find these type of antique and oddities shops in Chicago, but everything costs an arm and a leg. The prices here were surprisingly affordable, and everything is up for negotiation.

3. Fabyan Park

About a mile South of downtown Geneva is Fabayan Park, and we’re headed here next to add a bit of nature to our itinerary. If you took the train to Geneva, Fabyan Park is definitely an Uber/Lyft situation. Here are some worthwhile highlights.

– In the middle of the park is a Japanese Garden that dates back to 1912. While you can circle around and look into the garden all year long, tours and public access to the garden are only available from May – October.

-The Fabyan Windmill, an authentic working Dutch windmill is located in the park and sits high above the Fox River. Here’s a interesting factoid — the mill is built without nails and with wooden gears.

– A Frank Lloyd Wright designed home also sits within the Park. The home was owned by George and Nelle Fabyan and redesigned by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1907. Tours are available in from May – October.

4. Penrose Brewery

On the North side of Geneva is Penrose Brewery, which is our final stop in this guide before we head home. This small brewery is an excellent place to rest your feet and relax with a cold beer after a full day of walking around town and through Fabyan Park.

The tap room is full of long picnic tables, a shuffle board table, and a shelf of board games to keep you occupied. Nice bar, nice people, and good beer while you wait for the next train back to the city — can’t think of a better way to end the trip.