2 Days | 15 Miles | in From Local Experts
Bordering downtown Chicago along Lake Michigan, Chicago’s North Shore offers green space and pristine shorelines chock full of activities for couples, families and friends looking for a quick drive-in getaway. The area is complete with a scenic byway along the lakefront rich in natural beauty. Downtown Chicago in your sights? Stay on the North Shore and save on parking and take a 30-minute train to Chicago city center.
Make sure to check with attractions ahead of time for up-to-date operating hours, travel policies and health and safety information.
Start with breakfast at Hometown Coffee & Juice in downtown Glenview. Whether you fancy a Hometown Toast – Avocado, Garden Caprese or Apple Almond – or a Bagel Melt, Smoothie, Espresso or Cold Pressed Juice, you can find it all at the best spot for a modern breakfast.
After breakfast, head west in Glencoe to the Chicago Botanic Garden, the 5th largest public garden in the U.S., which has outdoor fun for the family! The Grand Tram Tour, open through late fall, lets you relax through a 2.3-mile narrated tour of the garden’s highlights including the Japanese Garden and spectacular views of the 81 acres of the water spaces. Don’t miss Night of 1,000 Jack-o'-Lanterns where more than 1,000 hand-carved pumpkins—some as large as 150 pounds—will light up the night at this Halloween event. Lightscape returns mid-November to early January, a holiday event which sold out last year. Experience a captivating world of light, color, and sound. Walk through the sparkling Cathedral of Light, watch lights glimmer and dance, and tune in to the playful choir of singing trees.
Less than one mile away is Northbrook Court, a spectacular indoor shopping center boasting Neiman Marcus, H&M, Sephora and many favorite retailers. Tucked in the north end of the center is Di Pescara which specializes in fresh, meticulously selected seafood, hand rolled sushi, and a satisfying range of Italian and global specialties.
No visit to Chicago’s North Shore is complete without time spent at the Illinois Holocaust Museum, the largest in the Midwestern United States. The museum, located in Skokie, brings a unique cultural experience where visitors can explore important issues of tolerance. The groundbreaking Take a Stand Center allows visitors to experience interactive galleries, including The Survivor Stories Experience which utilizes three-dimensional interactive technology and allows guests to ask Holocaust survivors questions and receive personal responses. Check out the new exhibit, Mandela: Struggle for Freedom, which runs through mid-September.
Harken back to an old school supper club, and near the museum relax with a cocktail and peruse EJ’s Place’s menu of prime aged steaks and chops, pristine seafood, and traditional homemade Italian specialties. It's a North Shore favorite with exemplary service. Skokie’s first brewery, Sketchbook Brewing Company, is worth the stop to see their new space in a reclaimed industrial building and taste one of their renowned ales with great names such as Honeybird Pale Ale, Pinky Sweater, Orange Door, Night Game and Snowy Owl, to name a few.
After your delicious and beyond filling – but in a good way – dinner and nightcap, it’s time to get some rest! You are just steps away from the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel. A warm chocolate chip cookie welcomes you and an even warmer reception from an attentive staff following the strictest health and safety protocols. The spacious guest rooms feature comfortable Sweet Dreams beds, flat screen TVs and complimentary wireless Internet access. Brought your swimsuit and goggles? The hotel features an indoor-outdoor pool and fitness center. Stop by Westfield Old Orchard Shopping Center for late night or early outdoor shopping the next day!
Now, it's time to head east to Evanston, located on Lake Michigan and home to the Big Ten’s Northwestern University. The Halim Time & Glass Museum is in a spectacular new building with a Tiffany-inspired dome, and it showcases the Halim family’s personally curated collection of more than 1,100 timepieces and more than 70 stained glass pieces of art. Walk back in time and experience the early 20th century by visiting the Charles Gates Dawes House, a historic house museum built in 1894. This chateau-like lakefront mansion was home to the 30th Vice President of the U.S. from 1909 until his death. The house is the starting point of Evanston walking architectural tours. Topics of tours include Historic Apartment Buildings, Lakeshore Historic District, Burnham in Evanston and downtown Evanston.
All that walking can make you hungry. Time for lunch at Farmhouse Evanston, a Midwestern craft tavern specializing in local food and drink. All burgers, condiments and sodas are made from scratch. More than 28 craft beers on and Michigan wines on tap. They are also known for their amazing cheese curds – yum!
University towns are special and Evanston is no exception. Amenities that are important to students and academics, are that much more special for locals and visitors alike. Culture, food and recreation are all found in abundance. Stroll through the campus of Northwestern University to see their renowned Shakespeare Garden, Deering Library, Dearborn Observatory and the walking path along Lake Michigan with stunning views of Chicago’s skyline.
Rent a Divvy bike nearby and take a short ride along the lakefront. Just north of Evanston you'll find the only Baha’i House of Worship in North America. Breathtaking in its immense presence with its detailed lace-like architecture and surrounding gardens, guests are always in awe. After your visit, continue north along the lakefront byway, Sheridan Road, and stop in small downtown villages for a refreshment and view magnificent homes and landscapes.
Hearty BBQ sounds perfect after a day of touring. Smylie Bros. Brewing Company is where you can lean back with some cold, craft brewed beer and lean forward over great pizza and mouthwatering BBQ.
Spend the night at the Graduate Hotel in Evanston, a boutique hotel located in a historic building just steps from Northwestern University. The cozy decor offers a tribute to the university and the history of Evanston.