Family Fun at Donley’s Wild West Town

Saddle up for some “wild” fun at Donley’s Wild West Town.

The McHenry County theme park is a throwback to the “Old West” complete with rides, activities, and shows. The park, founded in 1974 by the Donley family, features a “runaway mine car” roller coaster, a lazy river canoe ride and a C.P. Huntington Train. There is also a vintage carousel, petting zoo and pint-size “Kids Korral” playground.

What makes the park special (and worth the trip to Union, Ill.) is the assortment of Wild West activities. Kids can learn to rope a steer, pan for gold or shoot a bow and arrow. There are also daily Wild West shows that include “shoot ‘em up” scenes and cowboy stunts.

I took my 7-year-old son to the park last weekend and at first he wasoutings-wild-west skeptical, but he soon warmed up to the park, especially after discovering he could pan for gold and try out a  slingshot. He also loved feeding the goats and ducks (cups of food cost $1), riding the runaway car rollercoaster and visiting the old-fashioned “jail.” I was impressed with the friendliness of the staff, the breadth of engaging activities and the onsite museum that showcased cowboy memorabilia and artifacts from the Civil War. If you visit the park, be sure to come hungry because there’s an onsite steakhouse saloon that serves lunch and dinner. There’s also a banquet hall for large parties.

Recommended for ages 3-11, Donley’s Wild West Town is a wonderful way to spend time with your family trying something new. Donley’s Wild West Town is located at 8512 S. Union Rd. in Union, IL. The park is open daily through August 23 and on weekends from August 24 through October 27. For more information, visit their website or call 815-923-9000.

Headed to Union? Check out these other attractions:

  • Illinois Railway Museum: This cool museum offers an up-close look at trains from years past, including several you can actually ride. Be sure to check out the museum in August when Thomas the Tank Engine rolls into town.
  • Huntley Premium Outlets: An outlet mall with more than 50 stores, including Gap, Banana Republic, Eddie Bauer and Bose.
  • KOA Campground: Adjacent to the Wild West Town, the KOA campground includes tent sites, cabins, a swimming pool and miniature golf.