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Shedd Aquarium
Brewing place by the water

Explore The Lake Michigan Coast in Lake County

Outdoors & Regional

3 Days 97 Miles


Antioch, Gurnee, Highland Park, Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, Vernon Hills, Wadsworth, Waukegan, Winthrop Harbor, Zion

from the local experts at Visit Lake County

Enjoy Lake Michigan’s natural beauty and history on this Road Trip.

Like boats to a lighthouse, and yes, there are a few of those to see, in Lake County and along Lake Michigan, there are tons of amazing sights, sounds, experiences and flavors for couples to enjoy.


Day 1:

Zion, Lake Bluff, Waukegan & Winthrop Harbor

  • Interior of a theatre

Lake County is the perfect destination for capturing those special moments couples can create and share. Rise from your restful stay at the Inn on Sheridan, a cozy and homey boutique hotel.
Fresh coffee and a breakfast snack await at the Inn’s Callie’s Coffeehouse & Boutique. Ideal for an overnight getaway, it’s only blocks from the Lake Michigan shore and Metra Rail service.

Boundless nature is yours to explore at Lake Bluff Open Lands Preserves – Carolyn Goetz Wetlands. There, you can get your zen on, listening to the wind in the white pine forest and sitting for a spell on the observation deck. This wetland is a habitat for blue-winged teal, wood ducks, red-tailed hawks, snapping turtles, frogs, and other wildlife. It’s great for birdwatching and photos.

Take a nostalgic car ride along Lake Michigan on Sheridan Road to the City of Waukegan. Relax at the Waukegan Harbor & Marina – it’s perfect for scenic strolls and romantic views. Charter fishing boats, enjoy an adventurous excursion, and take in shows and live performances at the historic Genesee Theatre. Nearby eateries include Green Town Tavern and La Casa de Samuel. Top off your date night with an evening toast at one of the Lake County Libation Trails’ favorite stops: Winthrop Harbor’s Harbor Brewing Company. Their “recipe” includes a unique style of fun, flavorful beers.

Day 2:

Wadsworth, Zion, Lake Forest, Highland Park & Waukegan

  • A festival

Tradition and a creative take on dining are the foundations of The Shanty in Wadsworth. It’s been a gathering place to eat, drink, and socialize for over 100 years. Fresh ingredients are key to the locally sourced and inspired menu. Enjoy fresh seafood, aged steaks, prime chops, fresh poultry, pasta, vegetarian/gluten-free options, and a wide selection of American and global inspired dishes. Sunday breakfast brunch boasts champagne mimosas or a classic Bloody Mary.

Pop over to Zion’s gem of outdoor activities, Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois Beach State Park. It offers a full range of recreation opportunities at one of the most unique and beautiful natural settings in America. The site is the only remaining beach ridge shoreline left in the state, with dunes and swales, sprawling marshes, forests of oak and vast arrays of animal life and vegetation. You and your sweetie can enjoy swimming, boating, picnicking, hiking, fishing, camping or simply appreciating nature.

If you’ve ever wanted to travel back in time and take a look at history, visit Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve in Lake Forest. This nature preserve and former historic U.S. Army post holds national significance for its landscape and architecture design, as well as having trained American soldiers for military service throughout our history. Both the preserve and the parade grounds are a must-see and open to the public. As one of North America’s busiest flyways for migratory birds, it’s also ideal for birdwatching. It offers free public access to Lake Michigan and an awe-inspiring overlook perched on a 70-foot- high bluff. Capture your photos and memories together right here.

A tad hungry? Grab a craft brew and a homemade taco at the charming Ravinia Brewing Company, complete with live music and an outdoor patio. As they describe it, it’s “BEER...TACOS... AND A LITTLE BIT OF LOVE...” Cheers to a great visit in Lake County.

Couples can “Tune-in” to Lake County with music’s top names at the perfect venue for a starry-night outdoor performance. Highland Park’s Ravinia Festival stands as not only North America’s oldest outdoor music festival, but also one of the most musically diverse. Whether you want to see current chart- toppers, classic rock legends, country or

R&B greats, or take in a performance by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Ravinia has something for everyone.

Where to recoup, relax and rest your lakeshore-visiting selves? It’s the warm and friendly Hampton Inn & Suites Chicago/ Waukegan. A contemporary room or studio suite is a great home away from home, with comforts and amenities. A free hot breakfast will get you ready-set-going. And four-legged companions are also welcome at this pet- friendly Waukegan hotel.

Day 3:

Vernon Hills, Gurnee & Antioch

  • Food on a plate

A visit to Lake County wouldn’t be complete without a bit of shopping. Discover many unique shops, from designer to deals. Hawthorn Mall, a premier shopping destination in Vernon Hills, offers top brands and stores, tasty dining options, fun events and movies. While in the area, stop by Mellody Farm for some outdoor shopping.

There’s more...take a short ride to central Lake County and Gurnee Mills, Illinois’ largest indoor shopping mall with more than 160 stores and outlets. 

Tons of antiques await you in Antioch. Springtime brings the annual “Vintage Shop Hop” for a rodeo of all-things antique-ish. The historic Hiram Buttrick Sawmill, a re-creation of the area’s first operating sawmill, is one of Lake County’s most photographed settings, perfect to capture your visit. Lovin Oven Cakery, in the heart of town, offers homemade sweets and ranks as one of Lake County’s favorite spots.

Get pampered and have a bit of romance at the Dragonfly Bed and Breakfast, located in the heart of historic downtown Antioch. Choose a suite or stately rooms, with antiques throughout the 1885 Victorian home. Daily tea service is available and it’s close to shops, eateries and more.

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