Shop Local in Downtown Aurora

Fire Museum Gingerbread Winter Christmas

The streets in downtown Aurora are all lit up in anticipation of Christmas.

Streetlamps adorned with stars, Santa Claus peering from the library roof and a towering spruce tree strung with strands of LED lights atop the stairs of North Island Center on Galena Boulevard all mean one thing. It’s time to shop for presents.

But wait, you don’t have to pull into the nearest strip mall to grab a stocking stuffer. You can visit some local downtown businesses for a variety of unique gifts.

And now with free parking in downtown Aurora it’s easier to go shopping.

Food and drink

If you have foodies on your list, then downtown Aurora — with around a dozen eateries — is a great place to fill up on gift cards, gift certificates and more. Here is a sampling of tasty items:

Chef Amaury at 33 West. Located at 33 W. New York St. along Restaurant Row, this intimate, local restaurant owned by Auroran Amaury Rosado features several delectable courses inspired by local, seasonal and organic fare. Rosado frequently hosts wine dinners, and tickets would make an ideal gift for someone who has it all. Food-themed art by local realist artist Lisa Gloria is for sale on the walls.

River’s Edge Café. They brew coffee, cook and cater at downtown’s only independent coffee shop located at 18 W. Downer Place. They’ll also make baked goods for you, or a frittata for holiday breakfasts. Their pumpkin muffins will make you want to practice your parallel parking.

Fox Valley Homebrew. Two doors down from River’s Edge Café is Fox Valley Homebrew — a beer crafters dream. The small store sells beer and winemaking kits plus a whole lot of accessories for the hobby. Visit www.foxvalleybrew.com.

Beautiful things

Gallery 44. Private artist studios upstairs at 50 E. Galena Blvd. aren’t necessarily open to the public, but they are accessible and many of the half-dozen artists have works for sale. Cheryl Holz offers collage art and jewelry, and Anne Von Ehr sells lovely landscape paintings and more. By appointment only.

Wardell Art Glass Studio. You might not need stained glass, but Wardell Art Glass Studio at 28 S. Stolp Ave. has a small gift shop in front of the large street level workshop. Ceramic art tiles, gift cards and other unique gift items are available.

The DLP. The David L. Pierce Art and History Center is a great place not only to soak in some art and culture, but also to shop. A gift shop to the left of the entrance is filled with handmade jewelry, gift cards, historical Aurora items and books.

Glanze Boutique. The recently opened women’s fashion boutique on New York Street features exquisite custom designs and more.

Theater and cinema

Paramount Theatre. Make someone really smile with tickets to entertaining performances, tours and concerts on the grand stage of the historic Paramount. If you want to be thanked for the next 10 years, buy them tickets to the two remaining Broadway Series shows: “42nd Street” and “RENT.”

Riverfront Playhouse. The Riverfront Playhouse along Water Street Mall in downtown Aurora is a treasure that keeps on giving. Every year, the small local theater puts on quality plays that are worth seeing and telling friends about. Since they don’t have regular box office hours, call 630-897-9496 for tickets or order them  online.

This and that

Aurora Fastprint. Grab some fun notepads, or make personalized cards or calendars at downtown’s print shop at 54 E. Galena Blvd.

Backthird Audio. Pick up a copy of the latest edition of “Made in Aurora,” the locally produced album starring more than a dozen local musicians. “Made in Aurora, Vol. 2: City of Lights” is two records of holiday tunes to warm any spirit.

Annie’s Om Towne Fitness. Give the gift of fitness from a downtown studio that offers classes in yoga, pilates, dance, and more. Visit Annie’s upstairs at 14 W. Downer Place.

Think outside the box

Two Brothers Roundhouse. Visit the Roundhouse and you can do some creative shopping and check off all of those who are hard to buy for on your list. A bag of coffee for Aunt Clara, a t-shirt for dad, a mug for Uncle John and last but not least some beer for mom.

Jake’s Bagels. A dozen bagels and cream cheese is the perfect party gift, or pick up a bag of Jake’s new gourmet popcorn for the teacher or co-worker on your list.

Aurora Regional Fire Museum. Looking for toys and things that are shiny and bright? Stop by Aurora’s one-of-a-kind fire museum in downtown Aurora and peek in the gift shop. You’ll find great toys, books and other fun gadgets that are perfect for the good boys and girls on your list.

Visit Aurora Downtown on Facebook for more downtown shopping ideas. Shop small and local in downtown Aurora!