Winters on Chicago’s North Shore are rough, so it’s best to spend as much time outside as possible during the summer months and take advantage of those warm temps. One of the best ways to do so? Picnicking with your closest friends and family outdoors, surrounded by the natural beauty that’s abundant in the area. Read on to find our favorite picnic spots, plus the best places to buy everything you want in your picnic basket.
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Chicago Botanic Garden
1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe
The North Shore’s most beloved outdoor oasis, Chicago Botanic Garden, offers a Picnic Glen adjacent to parking lot 2 for anyone who would like to bring their lunch to enjoy before, during, or after exploring the expansive grounds. And if you visit in July, you can pick up your picnic fare right on site at the Summer Farmers Market. Local farmers, bakers, and vendors will be selling fresh fruits and veggies, honey, and more, and you can also pick up extra items like flowers and soaps.
Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe
Emily Oaks Nature Center
4650 Brummel St., Skokie
This nature center sits on 13 acres of “native wildflowers, grasses, oak trees, a three-acre pond, and trails,” perfect for exploring and picnicking. The nearby Skokie Farmers Market (5127 Oakton St., Skokie) is open Sundays from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. with fresh food and plants (just in case you want to pick up a little something extra to enjoy after your picnic).
1421 Milwaukee Ave., Glenview
The Grove is a 145-acre National Historic Landmark in Glenview where guests can learn all about this area’s natural history. Pack a picnic using fare found at the Glenview Farmers Market, held at Historic Wagner Farm (1510 Wagner Road, Glenview) on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon, and then explore the grounds of this outdoor history and nature museum via nature trails and buildings like The Grove Interpretive Center, Wetland Greenhouse, The Blacksmith Shop, Log Cabin and Native American Village, and The Grove Schoolhouse.
The Grove National Historic Landmark, Glenview
Forest Preserves of Cook County Trails
Explore the vast number of trails that make up the Forest Preserves of Cook County system (there are more than 300 miles of trails winding through Cook County!), many of which offer picnic areas (find rules and regulations about picnics here). Before you go exploring, stock up on fruits, veggies, breads, cheeses, and more items for your picnic at the Northbrook Farmers Market (Cherry and Meadow, downtown Northbrook), which is held Wednesdays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. And start planning your hike here.
418 Sheridan Road, Highland Park
There’s nothing quite like dining under the stars as you listen to your favorite musician or band at Ravinia. If you’re heading out to this festival this summer (you should!) and have lawn tickets, pack your picnic basket with delicious treats from the Glencoe French Market (675 Village Court, Glencoe), taking place on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. This French-style market offers a unique experience close to the hot summer destination that is Ravinia.
Ravinia Festival, Highland Park