Visit One of the Midwest’s Top College Towns
In 2018, Livability named Evanston one of the Top 100 Best Places to Live, and it's clear why. With a variety of museums and attractions, beautiful beaches, and some of Chicagoland's best restaurants, Evanston is not only a great place to live, but also a great place to visit. Plus, it's home to Northwestern University, which was recently named the No. 9 school in U.S. News & World Report's 2020 Best College list. That means world-class speakers and events regularly come to town as well. If you're ready to visit, here are some of the best things to do and eat. Plus, if you need a place to stay, we’ve got you covered.
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Northwestern has an exciting season ahead welcoming Michigan State (9/21), Ohio State (10/18), Iowa (Homecoming - 10/26), Purdue (11/9), UMass (11/16), and Minnesota (11/23) to Evanston this year. (See the complete schedule here.) Get the full college-town experience with a visit to Ryan Field (1501 Central St.) for one of these games, and explore Evanston or tailgate before the game.
Things to Do
You don't even have to leave Northwestern's campus to visit one of the top museums in the area. The Block Museum of Art (40 Arts Circle Drive) features a permanent collection of 6,000 works of art and welcomes exhibits from around the world throughout the year. "Pop América, 1965–1975" opens Sept. 21 and "is the first exhibition to unify Latin American and Latinx expressions of Pop and explore how artists working across the hemisphere embraced its bold and colorful imagery, references to mass culture, and representations of everyday objects, signs, and symbols." You'll also want to visit one of Evanston's newest museums, the Halim Time & Glass Museum (1560 Oak Ave.). You'll find more than 1,100 clocks from around the world and more than 30 stained glass windows. You can also take guided and non-guided tours. If you're looking for something unexpected, check out The Actors Gymnasium (Noyes Cultural Arts Center, 927 Noyes St.), a circus school and theater company. While you're in town, sign up for classes like Acro Yoga (Beginner), Circus Arts (Beginner/Intermediate), Gymnastics (Beginner and Advanced), and Handstands (Beginner). If you love music, you can't leave town without seeing a show at SPACE (1245 Chicago Ave.). This intimate venue has hosted acts like The Lumineers, Alabama Shakes, Graham Parker, and Nick Lowe, and this fall will welcome John Splithoff (Sept. 29), Shemekia Copeland (Oct. 11), Marc Broussard with Jamie McLean (Oct. 26 and 27), and many more. And soak up the season with a trip to one of Evanston's seven beaches. The water is closed for the season, but it's still a beautiful time to enjoy the lakefront.
Northwestern University Wildcats
The Charles Gates Dawes House (225 Greenwood St.) was the residence of former Vice President Charles Gates Dawes and is a National Historic Landmark. Today, it's home to the Evanston History Center, which offers tours of the home and its exhibits on the city's history. Less than a mile away, you'll find the Francis Willard House Museum (1730 Chicago Ave.). Once home to the notable 19th century reformer Frances Willard, the house now stands as a museum showcasing her life and work on behalf of women, temperance and human rights. Another National Historic Landmark to visit is Grosse Point Lighthouse (2601 Sheridan Road), which was built in 1873 to guide ships nearing Chicago after multiple shipwrecks. Tours take place through the end of September and allow visitors to climb to the top of the lighthouse (141 steps). However, the grounds are open all year long for free. Stop into the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian (3001 Central St.) which showcases the culture, history and artwork of the American Indian and First Nation peoples of the United States and Canada through a variety of permanent, temporary and hands-on exhibits and activities. And head to nearby Wilmette to visit the Baha'i House of Worship (100 Linden Ave.), the oldest of its kind in the world. The building is open every day for everyone, no matter their faith, to visit for prayer, reflection, and meditation. The exquisite building, which is surrounded by beautiful gardens, is also a popular spot for photographers.
The Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University, Evanston
If you're not tailgating before the Northwestern game but still want game-day fare, head to Edzo's Burger Shop (1571 Sherman Ave.). This favorite spot serves up freshly-ground burgers like the BBQ Bacon Cheddar Burger and Double-Double Animal-Style, plus hot dogs, hand-cut fries, hand-dipped milkshakes, and more. And for locally brewed beer, visit Smylie Brothers Brewing Co. (1615 Oak Ave.). Year-round brews include the Pale Ale and Porter, and all of their year-round and seasonal beers pair perfectly with lunch and dinner items like the Soppressata & Honey wood-fired pizza, Smoked Beef Brisket Sandwich, Reuben, and Pork Belly Poutine. Or try Beer-Battered Cheese Curds, Short Rib, Pasture Raised Grass-Fed Burger, or Farro Risotto at Farmhouse (703 Church St.), a restaurant that is all about local and sustainable ingredients. And for Asian cuisine, stop by Lulu's (1026 Davis St.) to try the Peanut - Sesame Noodles, Teriyaki Glazed Chicken Big Bop Rice Bowl, Spicy Korean Ramen, and Panang Curry Noodles.
L: Dawes House/Evanston History Center, Evanston; R: Baha'i House of Worship, Wilmette
Find your new favorite brew at Beer on Central (1930 Central St.). You can sip in store — there are eight rotating taps — and bring your own food from area restaurants, or buy drinks for your tailgate. You'll also find craft spirits, wine, cider, and mead, and the shop offers free tastings on most Friday and Saturday nights. Evanston, once home to the Temperance Movement, is also now the home of FEW Spirits (918 Chicago Ave.), the city's first distillery. Tour the facility Thursdays through Sundays, or visit the Tasting Room Thursdays and Fridays to sample and purchase spirits like Single Malt Whisky, Breakfast Gin, and Rye Whiskey. And for more local beer, visit Temperance Beer Co. (2000 Dempster St.). Enjoy draft beers like Karaoke Tears™ Hazy IPA, Madder Rose™ Tart Rosé Ale, and Smittytown® Nitro at the Tap Room, where you'll find light bites or you can bring your own food. $10 tours are available every Saturday at 3 p.m. and you'll receive samples, a souvenir pint glass, and 20 percent off merchandise that day.
L: Edzo's Burger Shop; M: Smylie Brothers Brewing Co.; R: Lulu's
L: Beer on Central; M: FEW Spirits; R: Temperance Beer Co.
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