A charming getaway awaits about 35 miles west of Chicago

Leave stress at the dock and kick back on a Fox River paddle-wheel boat ride.

Leave stress at the dock and kick back on a Fox River paddle-wheel boat ride.

A little over an hour west of downtown Chicago lies St. Charles, a historic Fox River town where you can browse boutiques and antique shops in mid-1800s buildings, stay in a stunning, refurbished 1920s hotel or nearby golf resort, cruise the Fox River on a paddlewheel riverboat and take a break from daily stress.

Families looking for indoor and outdoor pools, golfers who want to fall out of bed onto the first tee and anyone looking for a spa onsite should check out the Pheasant Run Resort, a few minutes east of downtown St. Charles.

Lick a Ben and Jerry's cone or have a Hurricane on Bourbon Street inside the Pheasant Run Resort.

Lick a Ben and Jerry's cone or have a Hurricane on Bourbon Street inside the Pheasant Run Resort.

Golfers interested in a short outing should try to snag a tee time at the nine-hole, Robert Trent Jones-designed, Pottawatomi Golf Course along the Fox River. Golf World Magazine ranked it 15th best nine-hole course in the United States.

For folks who like a river view in a historic hotel favored by bridal parties and antique hunters, the recently restored Hotel Baker is a top choice. Overlooking the west side of the Fox River on Main Street, the 1928 hotel is near restaurants and shops.

When settled in to either place, it’s time to explore. For interesting shops in 19th century buildings, head over to Century Corners between Riverside Drive and 3rd Avenue from State Avenue to East Main Street (Ill. Hwy 64).

An old fashioned candy store and adjacent antique shop are among Century Corners' treasures.

An old fashioned candy store and adjacent antique shop are among Century Corners' treasures.

On 2nd Avenue, wander through Townhouse Books and Café and relax with a latte.

At the corner, cross Cedar Avenue and head towards the river to find the Warehouse Antique Shoppe & Confectionary in the old Railway Express Building. The antique store entrance is 16 N. Riverside Avenue but the old time candy store entrance is on Cedar. You can walk through one to the other inside.  The stores are a treat for the eyes and taste buds.

If you are a bargain hunter or collector and you time your vacation right you can catch the Kane County Flea Market west of the downtown.  It has been a popular destination for 45 years but you need to know when it is open.

Spread across the Kane County Fairgrounds on 525 S. Randall Road between Ill. Highways 64 and 38 in St. Charles. The market runs the first Sunday of the month from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. but it actually starts the day before on Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. June 2012 gets two openings: June 2-3 and June 30-July 1.

There are lots of ways to enjoy the Fox River. Let a paddle-wheel river boat captain do the work while you kick back or rent a canoe. Both options are available at Pottawatomie Park on the east side of the river, north of Main Street. Or go hiking and biking on the Fox River Trails.

Even if not staying at historic Hotel Baker walk in to see its facinating decor and have a meal there.

Even if not staying at historic Hotel Baker walk in to see its facinating decor and have a meal there.

When ready to dine, Pheasant Run and Hotel Baker each have a good restaurant, but also try to get a reservation one night at Bistro 1 West, a hot, new St. Charles restaurant at 1 W. Illinois Street on the west bank of the Fox River.

A problem with a getaway to St. Charles is that while there you hear  about Garfield, an 1840’s living farm, the antiques-boutiques town of Geneva and other nearby attractions but you have run out of time.

All photos (c) Jodie Jacobs

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