Winter stuck around a little longer than we would have liked, but it’s finally time to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. With Memorial Day weekend right around the corner, here are five ways to savor some extra time with friends and family outside, either by exploring some local hidden gems (plus a local favorite) or creating your own brewery tour.
Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park
McCormick Boulevard between Touhy and Dempster Street
This Memorial Day weekend, explore the Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park by foot or bike with your entire family (dogs on leash are welcome). With four sections of sculptures featuring more than 60 works of art, there’s plenty to see, so print the self-guided tour before you go (or have it ready on your phone). And don’t forget to pack some food and take advantage of the park’s picnic areas.
Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park, Skokie
North Shore Beaches
Beach season is here! Evanston’s public swimming beaches open May 26 and are sure to be a popular destination for locals the entire weekend. Here you can rent sailing boats, kayaks and stand up paddleboards, or simply relax with a good book. A beach token or daily pass is required for admission.
• Lighthouse Beach: 2611 Sheridan Road
• Clark Street Beach: 1811 Sheridan Road
• Greenwood Street Beach: 1401 Sheridan Road
• Lee Street Beach: 1111 Lake Shore Blvd.
• South Boulevard Beach: 525 Sheridan Square
Glencoe Beach (55 Hazel Ave.) will be open for preseason May 26-28. Beach rentals include sailboats, hobie catamarans, kayaks, paddleboards, chairs and umbrellas. You’ll also be able to enjoy the sprayground, sun shelters for picnicking, volleyball courts, a beach cafe and more. Find complete details, including pricing, here.
And save the date: Winnetka’s Tower Road Beach (899 Sheridan Road) opens June 2 while Maple Street Beach (725 Sheridan Road) and Elder Lane Beach (299 Sheridan Road) open June 9. Each beach offers a variety of amenities, including a sand volleyball court (Tower Road) and playgrounds (Tower Road and Elder Lane). More information can be found here.
Chicago Botanic Garden
1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe
Memorial Day weekend is the perfect time to discover what’s in bloom at Chicago Botanic Garden. Not only can you enjoy a delicious meal made with local ingredients after going on a walking tour, but you can also take part in a variety of events occurring throughout the weekend, including the opening of Butterflies & Blooms and the beginning of the Garden Chef Series.
Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe
With all the prominent breweries and distilleries that have made their home here, it can be hard to believe that Evanston was once a dry city. To really understand just how much things have changed, go on your own self-guided brewery tour. Start at Smylie Brothers Brewing Co (1615 Oak Ave.) for a taste of year-round brews like Lager, Pale Ale, Cali Common and Farmhouse, or try a seasonal beer. If you’d like to tour the brewery, set up your appointment ASAP — tours must be scheduled weeks in advance.
Smylie Brothers Brewing Co, Evanston
From there, move on to Temperance Beer Co. (2000 W. Dempster St.) to see what’s on tap (Gatecrasher IPA and Smittytown ESB are both year-round, award-winning favorites). If you loved what you had (and you will!), come back on the second Saturday of every month for a tour.
After, visit FEW Spirits (918 Chicago Ave.) for a taste of Single Malt Whiskey, Bourbon Whiskey, Breakfast Gin and more. The Tasting Room is open Wednesdays-Fridays, while tours are offered Wednesdays-Sundays.
FEW Spirits, Evanston
End your self-guided tour at Peckish Pig (623 Howard St.). Beers like Aging Hipster, Black Cadillac and Rye So Serious are made on-site and pair well with dinner items like Carnitas Tacos, Fish & Chips and Slow Roasted Belly of Pork.
River Trail Nature Center
3120 Milwaukee Ave., Northbrook
Explore the wild world just outside your own backyard with a trip to the Forest Preserves of Cook County River Trail Nature Center. Guests can stop by the exhibit building before hiking through sugar maple woods on self-guiding trails. Plus, the center hosts regular events, so there’s always something fun going on. Find a complete list of upcoming events here.
River Trail Nature Center, Northbrook