This leafy Northwest Suburb is approximately 30 miles from the Chicago Loop. Hoffman Estates is a diverse community of 55,000 and offers lots of family-oriented attractions, great shopping opportunities and an extraordinary amount of natural space.
There are several Forest Preserves of Cook County on the village’s doorstep, the largest of which is the Arthur L. Janura Preserve, with its immense expanses of woodland and prairie.
There are professional sports teams close by, in the form of the Schaumburg Boomers and the Windy City Bulls, an affiliate of Chicago’s famous basketball team.
Added tot that, Woodfield Mall, the largest in Illinois and one of the largest in the country, is a short drive away and has upwards of 300 stores and newly renovated interiors.
1. Arthur L. Janura Preserve
Hoffman Estates benefits from a rare amount of natural space, and the largest of these is the 4,366-acre Arthur L. Janura Preserve.
In gently rolling terrain you’ll encounter beautiful and seemingly endless sweeps of prairie, open water and oak woodland, all waiting along the 21-mile Poplar Creek Trail System for hikers, bikers and people on horseback.
Depending on how far you want to travel you can choose from a number of color-coded loops. The woods, with oaks as old as 300 years, are home to large numbers of deer, which are easily spotted early and late in the day, and put on spectacular rutting displays in November.
2. Village Green & Hideaway Brew Garden
Now a summer mainstay, Hoffman Estates’ venue for live music and outdoor events can be found in the shadow of the Now Arena.
The 13-acre Village Green is newly revitalized, with an amphitheatre, ample green space and a pond.
This is a venue for festivals and events like the summer concert series, the Fourth of July celebrations and the Oktoberfest-style Platkonzert on the second weekend of August.
Key to the Village Green’s appeal is the Hideaway Brew Garden, a German-style beer garden for imported beer, delicious food and intimate live music performances.
3. Paul Douglas Preserve
You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to walks in nature in Hoffman Estates, as another Cook County Forest Preserve sits on the village’s north side.
The Paul Douglass Preserve is more than 1,800 acres of restored wetlands, open grasslands, oak savanna and former farmland.
A paved 7.2-mile trail loops around the preserve and affords wonderful opportunities for birding.
Something to look out for is the heron rookery, equipped with platforms and attracting pairs of great blue herons.
The wetlands also draw large numbers of pied-billed grebes, rails, swallows, ruddy ducks and breeding yellow-headed blackbirds, which are endangered.
4. Congo River Mini Golf
Billed as Chicagoland’s premier adventure golf destination, Congo River Mini Golf is a course that wouldn’t look out of place in a top theme park.
There are 36 holes here, made all the more immersive with lush, tropical landscaping and all sorts of fun details like waterfalls, creeks, rocky outcrops, platforms, bridges, an abandoned jeep and an airplane.
As for the holes, these are either par 2 or par 3 and tend to call on real putting talent rather than relying on crazy mechanics and trick shots.
5. Main Event Hoffman Estates
The Main Event chain of family entertainment centers has more than 40 locations across the United States.
And one of these can be found right here in Hoffman Estates. On offer at this branch is a high-tech bowling alley, laser tag, an amusement arcade, an indoor ropes course and pool tables.
If you’re here with a group of restless teenagers, a wristband is a good idea, offering unlimited access to all of the facilities over a set period, with food and drinks included.
6. Seascape Family Aquatic Centre
Hoffman Estates’ public outdoor water park is open from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.
The Seascape Family Aquatic Centre has been a favorite with families since the mid-1990s when it opened to widespread acclaim, being declared the “Number One Pool” in the Daily Herald.
The complex boasts a heated pool with zero depth entry, as well as water slides, a diving area, a sand play area and a water playground for tots.
And for a treat you’ve got Garibaldi’s Seafare Concessions with a menu of salads, wraps, pasta, pizza and more.
7. Medieval Times
In Schaumburg, just past Hoffman Estates’ eastern limit, you’ll find a branch of the famous dinner and tournament attraction.
For those unfamiliar with the concept, Medieval Times is in an arena, where you’ll witness lots of swashbuckling action, all threaded with an engaging storyline.
There’s jousting, horsemanship and falconry, while you dine on rustic food like soup, rotisserie chicken and corn on the cob.
If you’re willing to pay a little extra you can get VIP seating and priority access, while there are little attractions to check out around the arena before the show.
8. Vogelei Park
This dainty little park, by the junction of Golf and Higgins Road (72) is easy to miss, as the main entrance is along a narrow lane that branches off the westbound side of the 72.
What you see from the road gives you no indication of what you’ll find at Vogelei Park, which has been landscaped and installed with interpretive signs to offer a nature-oriented educational experience for all ages.
This is in fact a registered arboretum with more than 25 species of trees and woody plants. At the heart of Vogelei Park is a delightful pond, ringed by a walking path, and this is accompanied by a superb playground for kids, a splash pad and a sheltered spot with picnic tables.
9. Now Arena
Previously known as the Sears Centre, there’s a state-of-the-art multipurpose in Hoffman Estates that opened its doors in 2006.
This can be found right across the road from the Village Green. Over the last 15+ years the Now Arena has hosted numerous concerts and graduation ceremonies, as well as Davis Cup tennis, the U.S. Classic gymnastics event and regular TNA and AEW wrestling.
At the time of writing the main tenant for this 10,543-capacity facility was the Windy City Bulls, the Chicago Bulls’ NBA G League affiliate.
10. Hilldale Golf Club
Known for its immaculate greens, Hilldale Golf Club is a 18-hole par 71 laid out back in 1970. This is a technical course, with narrow fairways, unforgiving O.B. and water coming into play on no fewer than 13 holes.
You’ll need to pick the right clubs and be accurate with your shots, but it is also very satisfying when a low-percentage gamble pays off.
Hilldale Golf Club has a great practice facility, complete with an all-grass driving range and a short game area with putting and chipping greens and bunkers.
And after working up an appetite you can make for the C.K. Mulligan Bar and Grill, famed for its half-pound burger.
11. The Water Works Indoor Water Park
If you need a winter family outing or catch a rainy day in summer there’s an indoor water park at the Community Recreation Center in neighboring Schaumburg.
Under one roof, the Water Works has a pool for laps, but also a zero depth entry pool for fun, as well as a diving pool, water playground, rapid water channel, three slides and a whirlpool.
This facility also offers a nursery, and has a program of swim lessons and aquatic aerobics classes, while also being available for birthday parties.
12. Woodfield Mall
Hoffman Estates is just a few minutes west of one of the largest malls in the United States. Easily the largest in Illinois, Woodfield Mall attracts close to 30 million shoppers each year and has more than 300 stores.
The center was recently given a multimillion-dollar facelift, giving it a stylish, modern look and to go with trendy and high-tech brands like Zara, H&M, Apple, Michael Kors, Superdry and Anthropologie there’s a dining selection for all palates.
When we wrote this article, plans for a new dining pavilion were afoot, but the options in place included Cheesecake Factory, P. F. Chang’s, Rainforest Cafe, Uncle Julio’s, Red Robin and more than a dozen other spots.
13. Schaumburg Boomers
Another professional sports team based locally is the baseball team, the Schaumburg Boomers, who play at 7,365-seater Wintrust Field.
The Boomers were founded in 2011 and play in the Frontier League, made up of 16 teams in the Midwest, Northeast and Canada.
The team has taken three league championships and two division championships since 2011 and have a roster dotted with up-and-coming talent and former MLB players.
Conveniently located by the train station, Wintrust Field is also a fine, not to mention affordable, place to watch a ballgame with a diverse food and beverage program and all sorts of fun family and promotional events.
14. Fabbrini Park
Backing onto Hilldale Golf Club is a lovely neighborhood park on the banks of a lake. Ideal for jogging and gentle walls, a paved path encircles the lake, which is traced by some gorgeous trees including numerous tall willows.
One section crosses a kind of causeway dividing the lake’s eastern and western halves. Elsewhere Fabbrini Park has tennis courts, a basketball court, a free outdoor fitness court, a baseball/softball field, a soccer field, plenty of picnic tables and a children’s playground.
15. Shoe Factory Road Prairie Nature Preserve
Contiguous with the Arthur L. Janura Preserve is nine acres of rare gravel hill prairie. It sits on the slopes of a sand and gravel glacial deposit and grows plants that are adapted to these difficult conditions, among them porcupine grass, sideoats grama, little bluestem and northern dropseed.
A remarkable 100+ prairie species have been recorded at this location, and there are lovely stands of bur oak on the more protected east slope.
You can discover this environment along the Poplar Creek Trail, which weaves through the Arthur L. Janura Preserve.