Discover Aurora

October 2019 View more


When Richard C. Irvin speaks about Aurora, he does so with reverence and pride that is inspired by his deep roots in the community. “It’s a beautiful city, vibrant with a multicultural mix of people … and [they] all add a little portion of their culture that makes us unique.”

Irvin grew up living with his mother and brother in low-incoming housing on Aurora’s east side. “I was the first in my family to graduate from high school,” he says. After joining the army, Irvin was deployed to Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War. “I told myself that if I did not die,” says Irvin, “I would spend my time in public service to right wrongs.” With the help of military tuition assistance, he studied at Robert Morris College and received his law degree from NIU. Irvin went on to work for the Kane and Cook County state’s attorneys’ offices, then opened a law practice in Aurora. He served as an Aurora alderman at-large from 2007 until he became mayor in 2017.

The Fox River, which runs through Aurora’s downtown district, is one of Irvin’s favorite features. “Years ago, as an industrial city, we would use the river to carry our pollutants,” he says. “Now … we have this beautiful waterfront property to take advantage of.” Read on for a few of Irvin’s favorites near the riverfront and beyond.

Light it up
Aurora was one of the country’s first cities to install an electric street light system in 1881, hence its nickname: the City of Lights.

Asian infusion
Developer Eddie Ni is turning the former Yorkshire Plaza strip mall into TG Pacifica Square (, an Asian-inspired shopping center with restaurants, shopping, and more.

Ebb and flow
Aurora’s land along the Fox River is the longest riverfront in the state of Illinois.

Dream town
Aurora was named No. 1 in’s “Best City for Living the American Dream” in May 2019.


  1. RiverEdge Park
    “This is an outdoor music facility that holds about 8,500 people,” Irvin says. As of press time, Dionne Warwick had just performed before the close of the 2019 season. “We’ve had everything from Willie Nelson and Earth, Wind & Fire to Gladys Knight and Jason Derulo.”
    360 N. Broadway St., 630.896.6666
  2. Two Brothers Roundhouse
    “The Roundhouse is not just a restaurant, it’s also an institution,” Irvin says. “You can’t come to Aurora without visiting the Roundhouse and recognizing the history that goes along with it.” The limestone structure was built in 1856 to store and service railroad trains. Today, it houses Two Brothers’ myriad operations, which include a brewery, distillery, coffee roastery, and restaurant, plus a banquet space for weddings and other events. On warm-weather days the spacious beer garden can’t be beat.
    205 N. Broadway, 630.264.2739
  3. Paramount Theatre
    “It is the second-most subscribed theater in the United States of America,” Irvin says. “Our Broadway series alone attracts 400,000 people to our downtown to see shows every single year.” Catch Newsies as it finishes its run (through October 20) before Beauty and the Beast goes up November 13 and continues through January 19.
    23 E. Galena Blvd., 630.896.6666
  4. Charlie’s Silver Spoon Creamery
    Just opened in August in the former Aurora Silver Plate Manufacturing Building, this family-owned treats shop serves its own small-batch flavors that range from classic (vanilla bean and butter pecan) to funky (goat cheese and fig). “It’s some of the best ice cream you have ever tasted … in a building that’s well over 100 years old,” Irvin says. “It feels like you’ve walked into a 1940s or ’50s ice cream shop.”
    6 E. Downer Pl., 630.340.4074
  5. Phillips Park
    “This is our flagship park in the city of Aurora,” Irvin says. It features a lake and boat dock, zoo, dog park, pool, sports fields, playgrounds, and an 18-hole golf course, plus the bloom-laden Sunken Garden—a popular spot for wedding and prom photos.
    1000 Ray Moses Dr., 630.256.3860

Upcoming Events

Looking for some autumnal family fun? Visit Pumpkin Daze at Abbey Farms (2855 Hart Rd., 630.966.7775) through October 27 and wander the corn maze, snack on cider doughnuts, sip craft beer and search the 40-acre pumpkin farm for the perfect jack-o’-lantern specimen. Pumpkin Weekends at Blackberry Farm (100 S. Barnes Rd., 630.892.1550), hosted throughout the month of October, feature a pumpkin bounce house (October 5), trick-or-treating (October 19) and the world’s tallest scarecrow (October 27), among other attractions.

First Fridays is a monthly series that draws locals to enjoy art displays, music, and shopping around downtown Aurora. The November 1 event has a Day of the Dead theme, with food, dancing, and traditional Mexican altars. The December 6 event features the second annual Cocoa Crawl, where you can purchase a $5 mug and refill it at designated businesses around downtown (

Photos Courtesy City of Aurora and Aurora Downtown

Illustration by Maeve Norton