This village in Chicago’s west suburbs is unique as you can still visit the very first permanent building erected here.
The building in question, now used as a local history and art museum, is a church from 1849, with a lot of details that have made it through to the present day.
The museum is part of Old Town, a commercial district remodeled in the 2010s, with restaurants, a craft brewery and a collection of stores and services in quaint traditional buildings.
Bloomingdale is a well-heeled community with a vibrant events calendar, hundreds of acres of nature and parks, a mall, summer water park and a wide variety of other family-oriented attractions.
1. Old Town Bloomingdale
With a blend of historic and replica buildings, this endearing, walkable district is on the site of Bloomingdale’s original settlement.
Old Town Bloomingdale was given an update in 2016, and has elegant benches, streetlamps, beds with flowers and native grasses, as well as a lot of old-style architecture to admire.
One of the local businesses worth your attention here is Wolfden Brewing, a craft brewery and taproom with a large beer garden.
Also in the district, among the silos and old-timey water towers, is a lineup of restaurants, independent stores, offices, services, an art museum and a park for Bloomingdale’s outdoor gatherings.
2. Bloomingdale Park District Museum
Old Town is the setting for the oldest and first permanent building in the village, the First Baptist Church of Christ (1849).
This monument has been integral to Bloomingdale for 170+ years, serving as a schoolhouse and then becoming the Township Office and Town Hall at the turn of the 20th century, with a jail cell added in 1910.
The building was acquired by the Bloomingdale Park District in the 1960s and has hosted exhibits since the 1980s.
Many of the original fittings are in place, like a number of glass pane windows, the pine floor and ceiling.
This is just the place to learn about Bloomingdale’s history, and there are also up to seven art exhibits a year, mostly featuring work by talented members of local organizations like the Bloomingdale Artists’ Association (BAA).
3. Meacham Grove Nature Preserve
Without getting in your car you can walk from Old Town to a wonderful expanse of meadows, wetlands and woodland groves on the banks of the meandering Spring Brook Creek.
Belonging to the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, Meacham Grove is named for Bloomingdale’s founding settlers, and was purchased piecemeal from the 1920s to the 1990s.
In these 250+ acres you may get to see eye-catching shorebirds like great blue herons and great egrets. In the preserve’s northern half is the 32-acre Maple Lake, which is skirted by a crushed stone trail.
In turn this path connects to the North Central DuPage Regional Trail, a 19-mile bikeway spanning northern DuPage County, from Roselle to Wayne.
4. The Oasis Water Park
Next to the Bloomingdale Park District’s Johnston Recreation Center is a family water park open during the school summer break.
There are three main zones at The Oasis Water Park. Cuda Cove, home to the Bloomingdale Barracuda Swim & Dive Team, is an eight-lane lap pool with a drop slide, diving well and climbing wall.
Then you’ve got Mango Bay, a beach-entry leisure pool with two slides, 110 feet and 160 feet in length, as well as a floating climbing course, geysers, sprayers, spilling buckets and soft play features.
Finally, Adventure Island is an interactive water playground with pools, falls, a play structure, a water gun, spinning tray and a slide.
5. Spring Creek Reservoir
There’s no shortage of peaceful open space in Bloomingdale, and this forest preserve sits in the village’s northeast corner.
Over 17 acres, the reservoir is a former gravel quarry that was excavated from the 1950s to the 1970s, and is now vital for flood management.
You can drop a line from the grassy banks, and sunfish, bluegill, catfish and largemouth bass are all regularly caught here.
A one-mile trail bends around the lakeshore, with numerous benches along the way to take in the scenery. There are also picnic tables all around, as well as a shelter with a capacity for 50 people.
6. Picture Show at Bloomingdale Court
At a shopping center just around the corner from Stratford Square Mall is a lovable neighborhood cinema.
Opened in 1989, Picture Show at Bloomingdale Court has changed owners several times over the last 30+ years and for much of the 2010s was a second-run theater.
Now back to showing first-run movies, this cinema offers tremendous value for money considering it has big and comfortable reclining seats in all the screens.
And unlike many discount theaters, concessions are also affordable, with $1 hot dogs (at the time of writing) and generous tubs of popcorn.
7. Old Town Summer Concert Series
Next to the Park District Museum is Old Town Park, a pleasing green space with a war memorial, pergola, fountain and formal gardens.
At the north end is an amphitheater with grassy terraces, providing the perfect setting for outdoor events in the warmer months. June through mid-August there’s a weekly series of free evening concerts, usually beginning at 7 pm on Tuesdays.
Often featuring talented tribute acts (The Beatles, Elvis and so on), these shows are booked to cater to as big an audience as possible.
So there’s a whole spectrum of genres, from country to classic pop, Motown, rock ‘n’ roll, disco and R&B.
Coming up for its 50th anniversary, Septemberfest is Bloomingdale’s traditional end-of-summer bash, held on the first Saturday after Labor Day.
The main event each year is the parade, running from DuJardin School to Old Town Park, and involving local organizations, businesses and services.
There’s also a kiddie carnival full of rides and games throughout the day and into the evening, as well as craft booths, numerous food & drink vendors, a Lions Club beer tent and a diverse schedule of live entertainment.
9. Bloomingdale Golf Club
This public course was purchased by the Village of Bloomingdale in 1996, but has a history going back to 1924 when it was founded as Glendale Golf Course.
That course was laid out by famed golf architect Tom Bendelow, who designed the prestigious Medinah Country Club close by.
The new Bloomingdale Golf Club was redesigned in the late 90s, with the purpose of creating a challenging though not too onerous course, all accompanied by first-class facilities in a country club setting. This track is known for its testing greens and relatively straight fairways framed by mature trees.
Overlooking the course is a handsome stone, brick and cedar clubhouse, with a bar & grill, well-stocked clubhouse and a banquet room rented out for private events.
10. Mallard Lake Forest Preserve
Just shy of 950 acres, this preserve on Bloomingdale’s northwest fringe encompasses the largest lake managed by the forest preserve district.
Mallard Lake is 85 acres and as well as being a honeypot for fishing enthusiasts it is hotspot for picnics in summer, with dozens of tables at intervals around the shore and throughout the preserve.
There’s a section of boardwalk by the water, primed for birdwatching, while a 2.5-mile network leads off into the preserve and west into Hawk Hollow on the banks of the West Branch DuPage River.
If you don’t know the recent history of this land, you might be surprised to learn that there’s a massive landfill site directly west of Mallard Lake.
Used until 1999 the Mallard Lake Landfill rises to 982 feet, making it the highest point in DuPage County.
11. Bull & Bear Axe Throwing
For an activity a little out of the ordinary there’s an axe-throwing center at Stratford Square Mall.
If flinging an axe sounds a bit on the dangerous side, all sessions are accompanied by an experienced instructor who will show you how to handle the blade safely. They will then lead you through a variety of axe-throwing games.
You can book private sessions for one hour or 90 minutes, while people who have visited before can opt for 30-minute walk-in sessions.
Food-wise, Bull & Bear has an agreement with Red Robin, which is right next door at the mall, so you can enjoy a gourmet burger while you throw.
12. Westlake Park
Bloomingdale Park District’s second-largest park covers 25 acres, 13 of which is taken up by an attractive lake on the East Branch DuPage River.
For families Westlake Park is a great place to visit to feed the ducks, geese and swans (oats and other grains), while you should catch sight of plenty of turtles and the occasional heron.
A trail encircles the entire lake, and there’s also a pier for fishing and boating. Something that puts Westlake Park on the map in the winter is that it contains Bloomingdale’s only sledding hill.
13. Urban Air Adventure Park
At the Springbrook Shopping Center, next to Meacham Grove, there’s a location for the Urban Air indoor trampoline park chain.
As well as the usual trampolines filling every available surface, Urban Air has a variety of other family-friendly attractions.
These include a ropes course, a zigzagging zipline, climbing walls, a Ninja Warrior-style course, the multilevel Tubes Playground, a designated area for kids under 7, a bowling alley, a basketball area for slam dunks, a battle beam, a giant inflatable airbag and a dodgeball court, only combined with trampolines.
14. Stratford Square Mall
Opened in 1981, this mall has been expanded and renovated a few times since then. When we wrote this article there was 1.3 million square feet of retail space.
As well as dozens of familiar brands and dining choices, Stratford Square Mall offers family entertainment at the luxury 16-screen Century Theatre Cineplex.
Among the stores are Kohl’s, Foot Locker, Kay Jewelers, Woodman’s, Hot Topic and Lids, while food-wise you’ve got Red Robin and food court mainstays like Sbarro and Sarku Japan.
15. East Branch Forest Preserve
Grazing Bloomingdale’s southeast corner is a forest preserve dominated by wetlands on the course of the East Branch DuPage River.
Until it was acquired by the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County in the 1970s, this area was mostly farmland, but now is a vital resource for the local community, not least for stormwater control.
The preserve is more than 500 acres, and a magnet for waterfowl and grassland and shorebirds, including migrating species in the spring and fall.
There’s a two-mile trail, with branching unmarked paths, and you’ll find a picnic area at the Glen Ellyn Rd entrance.
Naturally, with so much water, the East Branch Forest Preserve is a big fishing destination, and largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie and channel catfish are biting at both Rush Lake and Sunfish Pond.