Lake County isn’t just a name. It really is a “county of lakes,” home to 70, including Lake Michigan and the Chain O’Lakes. Couple that with four state parks—Illinois Beach, North Point Marina, Volo Bog State Natural Area and Chain O’Lakes—and nearly 31,000 acres of scenic forest preserves, and you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to outdoor adventures.
Besides the many marine areas, you can indulge in golfing, bird-watching, biking, hiking, snowshoeing, ice skating and cross-country skiing. You’ll definitely want to keep an eye out for some of the Forest Preserve hot spots, including Independence Grove, Ryerson Conservation Area, Old School, Des Plaines River Trail, amongst many other natural havens.
Yes, if you relish the outdoors, you simply must stop in this beautiful corner of Illinois.
But it’s not all nature—we’ve got culture to match! From rollercoasters to shopping, eateries to libations, Broadway-esque theatre to world-class live entertainment, Lake County has it all.
Six Flags Great America in Gurnee features 15 high-octane thrill rides and an enormous water park, Hurricane Harbor. Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire stages some of the most talented thespians performing your favorite plays and musicals. Scour through the retail giants that offer high fashion at Gurnee Mills, Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills and Deer Park Town Center. Search and locate some of Lake County’s best-kept secrets at the mom & pop stores of MainStreet Libertyville, Historic Downtown Long Grove and Volo Antique Mall. Lake County also provides the perfect opportunity for history buffs and art aficionados as it is home to an array of museums and art galleries.
Lake County features 52 villages and cities nestled in the center of the 92 miles between Chicago and Milwaukee.
The Village of Gurnee has extraordinary shopping and entertainment all in one place and is known for destinations like the aforementioned Six Flags Great America & Hurricane Harbor and Gurnee Mills Mall. The Village of Antioch is an exquisite year-round destination famous for its lakes, quaint downtown area and community festivals. From mom and pop shopping, to ethnic cuisine, to outdoor activities, the City of Waukegan has what you need for a delightful time away. The Village of Libertyville has a picturesque downtown area on MainStreet, complemented with lovely outdoor areas and a suburban feel. It’s not surprising that Libertyville is known as one of the best places to live in the country.
Lake County provides visitors with an eclectic and electric entertainment scene. Broadway-caliber shows are staged year-round at Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, while Genesee Theatre in Waukegan and Ravinia Festival in Highland Park deliver Billboard chart-topping musicians, hilarious stand-up comedians and a slew of other talented acts. Witness the pristine artwork displayed at Waukegan’s ArtWauk, David Adler Music & Art Center’s (Libertyville) Festival of the Arts and other Lake County art events.
Lake County is a great dining destination, with seriously good dishes and suds at your disposal. From fine dining to sports bars; diners to brewpubs, distilleries and wineries; and sweets and treats to ethnic cuisine, Lake County eateries are sure to nourish any appetite.
Stop by in early March to enjoy “10 Days to Savor” in the annual restaurant week. Or any other time of year, take a stroll on the Libation Trail, where 12 drink artisans will treat you to homegrown seasonal brews, wines and spirits that are sure to quench your thirst, and dazzle and educate the most discerning tastes.
Seven words: Six Flags Great America and Hurricane Harbor. This Gurnee innovative fun zone is equipped with 16 thrilling, world-class roller coasters, including the world’s steepest and tallest wooden coaster Goliath, as well as the world’s largest loop coaster, Mardi Gras Hangover. If you like your thrills high and fast, you’ll find them here!
When you’re ready to put it in a slower gear, you can enjoy great dining treasures, charming live entertainment, an ongoing tribute to Looney Tunes and DC Comics and so much more.
And it wouldn’t be Lake County without a touch of water: Hurricane Harbor. This splashing good time water park opens between Memorial Day and Labor Day, with over a million gallons of water to refresh your soul during the Lake County summer. That is, if you don’t find yourself drawn to a lake on the way.
We've told you what's good in Lake County, so when you head there, we'd love to hear what you think is good! Share your stories, your snaps, and your top tips on the Enjoy Illinois Facebook page. Hashtag #EnjoyIllinois and we’ll all be inspired by your adventures!
This article was written as part of the Illinois Bicentennial 200 Years, 200 Stories project. Read more stories from the project.