Located about a one-hour drive from Chicago, Lake County boasts some picturesque draws that would make any Instagram feed envious, from stunning nature trails to local wineries and boutique shopping. Whether you’re heading to Lake County for the holidays or need a winter getaway, make your trip up north a warm and memorable one with our tips for winter activities in Lake County.
By Erica Abdnour of Concierge Preferred
If skiing is your thing, Lake County has more than 130 cross-country skiing trails, so you're sure to be able to find something suitable for all skill levels. Check out numerous trails at the Lake County Forest Preserves, or head over to Mundelein to check out Millennium Trail and Greenway, a trail that passes through multiple towns in Lake County.
If you'd rather take out the ol' toboggan, take a quick jaunt to Wadsworth for its famous Sled Hill near Village Hall. Open anytime there is a snowfall, Wadsworth’s Sled Hill also has accommodations for skiing and ice skating.
There's no better way to warm up than from the inside out. Raise your winter spirits with the impressive array of breweries and vineyards along the Lake County Libation Trail. Buffalo Creek Brewing in Long Grove, Only Child Brewing in Gurnee, and Mickey Finn’s Brewery in Libertyville all brew their craft beers on site, while Copper Fiddle Distillery in Lake Zurich — an Illinois Made maker — hand-crafts its award-winning bourbon from grain to bottle. If you prefer wine, Vigneto del Bino in Antioch makes award-winning reds and whites from grapes grown on its 10 acres of vines.
Travel to holidays past at the immersive Dickens Holiday Village in downtown Antioch, where you can visit with characters from Charles Dickens' era while dining at quaint eateries and shopping at local boutiques. Take the walking tour or marvel at futuristic technology with the bus tour.
After you’re finished touring the Dickens Experience, head over to the Kringle Christmas Village, located in the Orchard Street Plaza in Antioch. This indoor showroom has a plethora of gorgeous shadow boxes depicting holiday scenes ornamented with opulent decor.
If you're looking for a historical holiday outside Ye Olde England, harken back to the days of Normal Rockwell instead with a weekend stroll through Long Grove during the Vintage Holidays festival. Activities such as horse-drawn carriage rides and carolers transport you to the old days of holiday cheer.
But just because the festival in the past doesn't mean you can't pull out the smartphone. The beautiful architecture of downtown Long Grove — complete with holiday twinkle lights — provides the perfect festive backdrop for an Insta-worthy photo op.
Set the scene for a perfect wintry getaway with Snowland at Great Wolf Lodge. Little ones will be enthralled with the magical escape that gives them a chance to visit with Santa, join Snow ‘N Glow Dance Parties, and even explore a life-sized gingerbread house big enough to dine in. Even amongst the holiday trees, sparkly lights, and indoor snow showers, Great Wolf Lodge’s Snowland maintains a balmy temperature perfect for enjoying the indoor waterpark.
For some last-minute holiday shopping, stop by Gurnee Mills Mall. Located in Gurnee, Illinois’ largest outlet mall is the perfect spot to grab a great deal from more than 200 stores and wind down with a bite to eat from one of the mall’s 20 restaurants.
For the adrenaline junkies, Holiday in the Park is the perfect way to spend a winter day. Head over to Six Flags Great America this winter for thrilling rides, amazing shows like Looney Tunes Christmas and Kalightoscope, and family activities like Santa’s Workshop and Character Storytime. Lights, sounds, and tastes across the park are sure to excite the whole family.
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