Soak up all the sunny fun and plan a perfect summer day on Chicago’s North Shore. Cool, glittering water awaits you along the lake, lagoons and pools. Mix and match stops for a coffee, a pedicure and shopping by day with mini golf, a movie and more come evening. Explore endless fun and things to do this summer on Chicago's North Shore.
Skokie Lagoons, Winnetka
Head Out on the Green Bay Trail
Built on the former Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee Railroad, the Green Bay Trail runs parallel to Metra's Union Pacific / North Line for nearly nine miles starting in Wilmette. Kick off a morning of trailblazing at Central Station Coffee (1150 Central Ave., Wilmette) for espresso, chai tea latte and Belgian waffles. Firmly fueled, bike through West Elm Park (1155 Elm St., Winnetka) and the Hubbard Woods Design District (897 Green Bay Rd., Winnetka) for window shopping and a luscious vegan lunch at Spirit Elephant (924 Green Bay Rd., Winnetka). Play your afternoon away paddling the Skokie Lagoons with kayak and canoe rentals (entrance on Tower Rd. west of Forestway Dr., near Winnetka).
Make a Day of It in Evanston
Spend a leisurely day savoring charming Evanston. Its Lakefront and Beaches are heavenly for taking in the scenery and architectural treasures with a bike ride, stroll or morning swim while watching the sun rise at one of the Evanston beaches. Find healthy fare at the new sweetgreen (1601 Sherman Ave., Evanston) in Downtown Evanston as well as boutiques and wellness retreats. Feed your cravings at funky diner Lucky Platter (514 Main St., Evanston) on The Main-Dempster Mile where shops and treats also abound. You can relax with a soothing mani/pedi at eco-friendly Treat Nail Lounge (2118 Central St., Evanston) and pair wine with a light meal at Lush Food and Drink (2022 Central St., Evanston), then scope out a new top, some flowers and spices, and wander the charming boutiques along Central Street Evanston.
Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe
Get Lost in a Story Among Gorgeous Gardens
Stock up on beach reads and other summer stories from Bookends and Beginnings (1712 Sherman Ave., Evanston). Tucked into an alleyway, it’s a hidden gem. With new lit in hand, head to Chicago Botanic Garden (1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe) for a restive lunch, a long stroll and the perfect setting in which to read. Be sure to check out Flourish: The Garden at 50 celebrating the garden’s birthday with exhibits and experiences. On Monday or Wednesday, stay for evening’s Music on the Esplanade to picnic and sip cocktails while enjoying live music in this outdoor oasis.
Westfield Old Orchard, Skokie
Move & View: Sporty Outings and Summer Blockbusters
Start early with a ramble or bike ride through the Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park (McCormick Blvd. between Touhy & Dempster Sts., Skokie). Grab lunch at Westfield Old Orchard (Old Orchard Rd. & Skokie Blvd., Skokie) and hit a few shops for a wardrobe upgrade or gift idea. Midday mini golf or the batting cages at Skokie Sports Park (3459 Oakton St., Skokie) are a summer must. Then pick out a blockbuster and enjoy the chilly a/c in cushy theaters at Northbrook Court (2171 Northbrook Crt., Northbrook) or Westfield Old Orchard.
Evanston Mural Arts Program, Evanston
DIY Tour of Murals
Color and community drive the vibrant mural scene all across Evanston. The Evanston Mural Arts Program pairs professional artists with community members and youth to create large-scale public works of art. Download their Google map or a printable version to explore colorful spreads adorning buildings, transit, underpasses, parks and more. Makes for a great day out with dozens of restaurants and shops to amuse in between. Brush up on your photography skills or enjoy this one as a selfie bonanza!
Wheeling Family Aquatic Center, Wheeling
Find Summer Fun for the Whole Fam
An utterly expansive, outdoor water park, Wheeling Family Aquatic Center (327 W. Dundee Rd., Wheeling) winds around faux rocks and waterfalls. The tropical-themed playland has something for everyone with large tipping bucket, tube/body slides, splash pool, toddler slide, diving board and oodles more. Dry off with a stroll in The Grove (1421 Milwaukee Ave., Glenview) and its 145 ecologically-diverse acres of nature preserve through woodland, prairie and natural wetlands. Since you’ve all worked up an appetite, end with a bit of a browsing or a snack at Glen Town Center (Patriot Blvd. at Navy Blvd., Glenview).
Plan Your Own Summer Adventure
Customize your outings and with summer adventures from a jam-packed season of activities on the North Shore. Hit the water in some of our cool Pools & Beaches with miles of pristine lakefront, as well as splash pads, pools and water slides. Really, everything tastes better al fresco and our Outdoor Dining Guide is bursting with tempting options to get you from a morning pastry to midday sandwich to a romantic evening. Wrap up by taking in a movie in the open air. The Summer Movies calendar is bursting with new and old favorites from Disney, Marvel and more.