Syca-more to do outside of DeKalb

By Jerene-Elise Nall

Ever wondered what’s beyond DeKalb on Route 23?

Just over 10 minutes away and northeast of NIU sits the closest neighboring town, Sycamore. If you and your friends have access to a car, Sycamore’s downtown district is well worth the trip.

The five square blocks which make up the area are absolutely packed with gems of shops and eateries that beg to be checked out. After visiting downtown, there are 10 spots that stood out as must-sees.

WHAT: Blue Moon Bikes Cycle & Fitness Center

WHERE: 211 W. State St.

WHY: This bike shop specializes in the sale and refurbishment of vintage bikes, but sells skateboard hardware as well. If you’re looking for a unique, environmentally-friendly new ride this spring, Blue Moon is definitely worth a look.

Worth mentioning is the third floor “museum,” which contains a marvelous display of rare, vintage bicycles that are just to look at and open to the public during business hours.

WHAT: Riccardi’s Red Hots & Soda Fountain

WHERE: 422 W. State St.

WHY: Diner food, a soda fountain and a huge ice cream selection housed in a vintage diner that features a pink-and-blue color scheme and a checkerboard floor. Riccardi’s is open until 3 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and offers local bands a place to play free shows on Friday nights.

This funky diner also went BYOB on Friday, so patrons can enjoy wine and beer of their own with their food.

WHAT: Goin’ Postal and Tuscani Cafe & Deli

WHERE: 352 and 352 ½ W. State St.

WHY: While the idea of a postal shop may not be too thrilling on its own, a postage shop with a deli inside of it makes for a pretty interesting dining experience. The food prices are reasonable, the staff is very friendly and the WiFi is free.

WHAT: Midwest Museum of Natural History

WHERE: 425 W. State St.

WHY: This museum, which is housed in a converted church, is cozy but full of incredible exhibits, and even features a Wildlife Observation Station which allows guests to get up close and personal with real, live plants and animals. The MMNH also features a free parking lot for guests.

WHAT: State Street Theater

WHERE: 420 W. State St.

WHY: The State Street Theater is a classic, vintage movie theater that features new releases and $2 admission. This theater also supports benefit events for the surrounding community.

WHAT: Super One Dollar Store

WHERE: 327 W State St.

WHY: This cozy dollar shop stocks all sorts of fun, kitschy items. Everything from balloons to barrettes to Big League Chew grace the shelves of the Super One Dollar Store, and it might be worth a look for those with an eye for DIY projects. You can’t beat the prices!

WHAT: Taxco Mexican Restaurant

WHERE: 223 W. State St.

WHY: Taxco has a reputation among locals as being one of the best Mexican restaurants around. It is a sit-down restaurant in the heart of downtown Sycamore that would make for a great date night.

WHAT: The Confectionary of Sycamore

WHERE: 235 W. State St.

WHY: Almost all of the candy-most of which is chocolate-is made fresh in Sycamore and DeKalb. This whimsical and adorable confectionery is any chocoholic’s dream. Supporting local business couldn’t get any sweeter!

WHAT: Sweet Earth Jewelry & Gifts

WHERE: 341 W. State St.

WHY: Sweet Earth stocks everything from scented candles and yarn to cute accessories and jewelry. The incense selection is worth mentioning, as are the reasonably priced art supplies. This would also be a wonderful place to shop for a gift for just about anyone.

WHAT: Villa Verone

WHERE: 219 W. State St.

WHY: Villa Verone has been recommended to me more than once as a dinner date spot. Who doesn’t like a good Italian meal?

Parking is metered in downtown Sycamore, but when 10 cents buys you an hour, a handful of loose change will buy you plenty of time. Or, if you’d like, you can take a Sunday trip and park for free. Unique, pedestrian-friendly, and relatively close to campus, downtown Sycamore makes for a short trip and a great time.

For hours of operation and more information on these shops and all the other local businesses of downtown Sycamore, visit