Road Trip

Appears in the March 2023 issue.

It’s not just auto aficionados who are sure to find something to love in Volo

The 1960s Batmobile on display at Volo Museum
Volo Museum, 27582 Volo Village Rd., Volo

There’s a certain sense of joy when wandering the overcrowded spaces of an antique or secondhand shop and unexpectedly happening upon something that feels like a very personal passage back in time. Now take that nostalgic potential and multiply it several hundred times over, and you’ll have some idea of what it’s like to spend a day at the sprawling Volo Museum.

A carousel at Volo Museum

Spread across 60 acres in the eponymous village a little more than an hour north of Naperville, this fourth-generation family-run attraction has been transporting visitors of all ages back to their childhoods—and introducing youngsters to an array of wonders from the past since 1960. Evolving from its roots as primarily a destination for admirers (and prospective buyers) of classic cars, the museum today stands as a treasure trove of both vehicular wonder and pop-culture ephemera (with a still-thriving auto sales division) that welcomes more than a quarter-million curiosity-seekers every year, and not just middle-aged car nuts.

The Flintstone Mobile at Volo Museum
A dinosaur at Volo Museum

“A couple years back we dropped ‘auto’ from our name, and now we’re just the Volo Museum because we are so much more than autos,” explains museum director Brian Grams, one of several members of the founding family on staff. That “so much more” encompasses 10,000 items, with everything from an 1885 wooden train caboose and a 100-year-old carousel (top right) to a variety of antique kiddie rides and a 15,000-square-foot indoor dinosaur park (above)—not to mention, of course, a wide selection of more than 300 impeccably preserved classic cars from across the past century, including TV and movie favorites like a 1966 Batmobile (top left), a Stone Age vehicle for the Flintstones (middle right), and a gull-wing DeLorean of Back to the Future fame. There’s a nostalgic discovery around every corner.

“The reason people enjoy visiting us is not because of a specific item on display but because of the experience,” Grams says. “They relive their youth, they share a memory with a younger generation, or they see things that simply spark the imagination.”

Sidecar: Delicious Dogs

Sure, you can grab a slice of pizza and catch an animatronic show at the museum when the munchies strike, but as long as you’ve hauled it all the way up to Volo for the day, why not sample another community institution (and family-run business) for lunch or dinner? The nearby Fratellos Hot Dogs (31682 N. U.S. Rte. 12 in Volo) has been serving up authentic Chicago-style dogs and Italian beef on Highway 12 for nearly five decades. Try a char-broiled Polish with everything or stray off the beaten path with a chicken pesto panini—and don’t forget the milkshake.


Photos courtesy of RC Schultz