Fox River Grove Metra Station…Modern Meets Retro, Maybe?

The Fox River Grove Metra station, which runs on the Union Pacific Northwest (UP-NW) line, is located in downtown Fox River Grove, literally feet from the Northwest Highway, which runs parallel to the tracks. On the other side of the tracks, you’ll find the Fox River Grove Memorial Library. If memory serves me correctly, I seem to recall the station was renovated a few years back. The station definitely feels updated–parking payment system notwithstanding–but fairly basic.

Fox River Grove Metra Train schedule: check the official Metra UP-NW schedule.

Address: Northwest Hwy, Fox River Grove, IL 60021

Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, maybe “basic” isn’t entirely correct. “Simple” might be more accurate. It definitely feels like a very commuter-focused station. There is no Little Free Library inside the station, nor will you find interesting historical photos mounted on the walls. Yet, on the other hand, the station does have ample bathrooms…which not all stations have, ample or otherwise…and a stand of various newspapers and periodicals outside.

However, you won’t find a high-tech parking payment kiosk, or even a medium-tech payment machine…come to think of it, I’m not entirely sure you can even pay for parking through an app. Which, frankly, is fine by me…the convenience is hard for me to justify an additional fee, but maybe that’s just me. In fact, you pay for parking in what I can best describe as an archaic “slot payment” wall. I honestly don’t know if it is archaic though since I’ve never actually seen this system at any other station, and I’m pretty sure this station is recently updated.

My best guess is that it was an older system that they decided to maintain with the new facility. I can only imagine the discussions around it. While I imagine users might have some choice opinions on this…and if you are reading this and have used this system, PLEASE share…I love the nostalgic-ness of this so much, it’s reason alone to use this station.

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And speaking of parking, there are four lots at this station, and they’re a bit odd as well. There are special employee and vendor parking spots along the highway by the station itself, and one odd little lot on the other side of Lincoln Avenue. Then there are two lots on the other side of the tracks, with a smaller one right across from the station and then the largest lot, west of Lincoln Avenue.

Be aware though, that unlike some of the other stations, there is no cross-over or under the tracks near the platforms and station itself. The only place to cross over from the parking lots to the station and Platform 1, the Chicago inbound side, is at the ends, either at Lincoln Avenue or Algonquin Road…and it’s a decently long platform.

Also inside the station is The Morning Grind Cafe…I think. It wasn’t open at 9 am when I was there, but post-COVID, it’s really hard to say. Sadly, with the dramatic decrease in Metra traffic, a number of these station coffee shops have either temporarily or permanently closed. But in this case, the menu sign looked updated and there was still equipment behind the gate, so that’s a hopeful sign at least.

And if you run The Morning Grind, be sure to comment below to let us know you still exist, and while you’re at it, see the big green box below and come join us!

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While there isn’t a ton of indoor seating, there is a fair amount of overall space in both the main station and the waiting shelter. And both are fully enclosed, which isn’t always the case, and though I don’t think the shelter has any air conditioning, it does have overhead heat lamps for staying warm in the winter.

The overall landscaping around the station is fairly minimal as well. There are a few general planting areas, but you won’t find large flower planters or anything like that. But, it is also well kept, well lit (I imagine since I haven’t been by the station at night for some time, but they have a ton of lights!) and clean, which is what’s most important.

Sadly, the downtown area of Fox River Grove has taken a few hits over the past years, COVID especially. As station locations go, Crystal Lake demonstrates the two extremes…you have the pure commuter station of Pingree Road station, with “nothing” nearby, and you have the “destination station” of Crystal Lake Metra itself, with a number of restaurants, cafes, bars, and shopping within a stone’s throw.

The Fox River Grove Metra Station should be an example of the latter, but many of the downtown businesses have closed up. The El Sombrero restaurant is across the way though for your evening return. Let’s hope for brighter days ahead!

President and Founder of Identity Developments, LLC, the parent company of the McHenry Life website. My hope for McHenry Life is to create a resource and destination for the residents and businesses of McHenry County alike. A place where residents can discover new places to explore, fun events and ways to spend time, and then share those experiences with others. A place where businesses can connect with existing and potential customers, and not simply market their businesses, but share their own unique stories.

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