Into the 1860s the Ojibwe people used the Fox River Grove region for their winter home.
In 1869 Frank Opatrny purchased of land on the southern shore of the Fox River. The area gained a reputation with city dwellers as an ideal vacation spot. In 1900, Frank's son Eman Opatrny bought the land from his father, converting the family land into a tourist destination, the Fox River Picnic Grove. In 1902, Opatrny added a luxury hotel, named the Castle Pavilion, which featured windows from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition.
In 1905, the Norge Ski Club purchased land in Fox River Grove for a ski jump. The Norge Ski Club is the oldest, continuously open ski club in the United States. The Norge Ski Club is also home to the Windy City Balloon Port, whose hot air balloons float along the Fox River.
In 1919, the village of Fox River Grove incorporated. In the same year Louis Cernocky, Sr., established Louis's Place, a Bohemian restaurant and bar. In 1922, Cernocky built Louis' Crystal Ballroom behind the restaurant, which was frequented by many prominent Chicago residents.
In 1931 Theodore Bettendorff began work on what would come to be known as Castle Vianden, which is located along what is now U.S. Route 14. By 1960, the castle, which was open to visitors, had eight towers, a guard room, bugle tower, castle yard, enclosed sun porch, modern kitchen, garage, dungeon, and a wishing well. Bettendorff continued to add to his castle until his death in 1967. During the 1970s, the castle was rented out as a honeymoon retreat.
In 1942, the Picnic Grove land was purchased by Louis, Jr., and Clara Cernocky. Louis was a successful local businessman and Clara was the daughter of Eman Opatrny. Dubbed "40 Acres of Paradise" by Cernocky, the Picnic Grove remained a popular vacation destination for approximately 20 years before it fell into disarray.
In 1945 Fox River Grove established the first VFW post in McHenry County.
After changing hands several times, in 1994 the Village of Fox River Grove obtained a grant to acquire along the river and named the property Picnic Grove Park. The rest of the land was developed into what is now the Picnic Grove subdivision. Remnants of the Fox River Picnic Grove can still be seen in the park.