Lake Forest is an elegant, small town, full of surprising sights and activities. Whether you’re a foodie, a history buff, a nature lover, a shopaholic, or all of the above, there’s a taste of something for everyone in Lake Forest! You’ll fall in love with the beautiful town, as well as get to learn many things while having tons of fun. There are so many gorgeous views and interesting nooks and crannies to discover here and we’re here to tell you some of the best things on offer. Read on to discover the best things to do in Lake Forest, Illinois!
1. The Popcorn Factory Store
The Popcorn Factory has been providing gourmet popcorn for many holidays and special occasions, since 1979. Now, they’re back with a Factory Store in Lake Forest! With a plethora of flavors and selections, this is a great stop for anyone visiting Lake Forest. Take home a special treat in remembrance of your awesome vacation or bring back a gift for a loved one! You’ll be amazed at all of the homemade selections that the Popcorn Factory has to offer.
The Popcorn Factory Store
Address: 19370 W Laurel Dr., Lake Forest, IL 60045
Website: The Popcorn Factory
2. Lake Forest Book Store
The Lake Forest Book Store was first opened by a group of women in 1949. It originally was only 650 square feet (60.4 square meters) of selling space, but in the last six years it relocated to historic downtown and has more than doubled in size. There is a great selection of books here, but a large section devoted to children’s books. There’s an inviting table placed centrally within the store, which customers tend to gather around to find a gripping fiction novel.
The store also partners with many of the local businesses to bring fun events to the community, including meet-and-greets with authors, school book fairs, book donations to charities, and much more! Wanting to find a unique place that’s great for the entire family and has a bit of a history? Come and check out the Lake Forest Book Store: a beloved place in the heart of small-town Lake Forest.
Lake Forest Book Store
Address: 662 N Western Ave., Lake Forest, IL 60045
Website: Lake Forest Book Store
3. Wildlife Discovery Center
The Wildlife Discovery Center is full of adventure, through the pursuit of learning about different animal species! They offer several attractions, including an extensive venomous reptile exhibit and a conservation education program. The main exhibit room features crocodilians, tortoises and turtles, lizards, and snakes, and includes rare species such as the crocodile monitor, Gila monster, and beaded lizards!
There’s also an indoor and outdoor raptor center, which contains a screech owl, great horned owl, red-tailed hawk, and a Harris’ hawk. This isn’t even half of the attractions, though, there’s also a research area, lectures, nature and interpretive trails, captive breeding, rescue and rehabilitation center, including a raptor and reptile rescue center, and much more! There’s much to do, see, and learn at the Wildlife Discovery Center!
Wildlife Discovery Center
Address: 1401 Middlefork Dr., Lake Forest, IL
Website: Wildlife Discovery Center
4. Market Square
Market Square has featured a collection of upscale shops that have been trending in the North Shore’s finest circles, since 1916. There are many shops and cafes to fulfill many of your desires, along with celebrations of art and music, The alleyways of Market Square even have seasonal surprises.
There are many things here to capture your heart. It’s conveniently located midway between Chicago and Milwaukee, which makes it easily accessible by car or train. There’s even free public parking and the Metra North Line Station is positioned on the other side of Western Avenue, directly across from Market Square. Don’t miss out on an exquisite shopping experience at this premier collection of stores.
Address: 269 Market Square, Suite C, Lake Forest, IL
Website: Market Square
5. Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve
If the bustle and buzz of everyday life are becoming a tad overwhelming, consider checking out Fort Sheridan Preserve. With over 250 acres (101.2 hectares) of rolling terrain, with many mature trees, picturesque ravines, and bluffs, it’s positioned right on the Lake Michigan shoreline. It’s an especially great place to visit for those interested in birdwatching and the lake offers many wildlife encounters, as it’s home to many rare species.
A total of 4.5 miles (7.2 km) of trails are available for hiking, 3.7 miles (6 km) for cross-country skiing, and 1.3 miles (2.1 km) for biking. Fort Sheridan originally served as an Army base from 1887 until 1993, which leaves a remarkable history behind it and it gives anyone an opportunity to learn more about rare species, the great outdoors, and American history. It’s definitely a place worth checking out!
Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve
Address: 117 Sheridan Rd., Lake Forest, IL
Website: Fort Sheridan Preserve
6. Chocolates by Bernard
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Do you have a sweet spot for sweets? If so, this is a shop you don’t want to miss. Chocolates by Bernard are decadent, hand-crafted, and absolutely delicious and, with a 4.7-star rating, they have many treats on offer. Whether you’re looking for a sweet gift to bring home to family members, co-workers, friends, or just a taste for yourself, Chocolates by Bernard has many different assortments. The hand-crafted truffles are almost guaranteed to satisfy your craving.
These chocolates are also Rainforest Alliance-Certified, which means that the cocoa is both sustainable and entirely natural, preservative-free, and made with mostly organic ingredients. As some of the most high-quality chocolate in the midwest, it’s worth stopping by the shop and trying it for yourself!
Chocolates by Bernard
Address: 825 S Waukegan Rd., Ste C3, Lake Forest, IL
Website: Chocolates by Bernard
7. Elawa Farm
This farm is both a historic location, as well as an ecologically significant place. It’s adjacent to the Middlefork Savana and provides a great opportunity for the public, as well as private organizations, to create community events and outreach. The Elawa Farm originally belonged to an early 20th-century gentleman but was later sold to the city, in 1998, by a family member who had inherited the property.
The 16-acre (6.5-hectare) piece of land has many of the original farm buildings, which host many events. There are several other attractions here, including the Garden Market, where fresh-picked produce and fresh-cut flowers can be purchased, the garden itself, which is open to being explored by the community, as well as a petting zoo, and different ecological classes.
The Elawa Farm Foundation is a nonprofit organization which stemmed from the city’s purchase of the farm and raises money towards creating ecological awareness, intervention, as well as community events. This is a historic and eco-friendly visit, that should be had by anyone interested in small-town endeavors.
Address: 1401 Middlefork Dr., Lake Forest, IL
Website: Elawa Farm
8. Forest & Found
Forest & Found is pretty much what the name implies: it’s a local thrift store that raises money for charities, creating conscious-minded shopping! Forest & Found has many items for sale, including furniture, games, clothes, jewelry, art and housewares! This isn’t your common thrift shop, with monotonous, everyday items: there are many different things here that you may not find in your usual shopping adventures.
Looking for a unique souvenir to complete your trip? This is the ideal place to find an original piece or just a functional item for your own home!
Forest & Found
Address: 1363 N Western Ave., Lake Forest, IL
Website: Forest & Found
9. Sweet Pete's Candy Shop
Looking for a sweet stop during your adventures? Check out Sweet Pete’s! It’s located conveniently in Market Square and features a variety of gourmet chocolates and candy. With a large assortment of products and flavors, this stop isn’t just for kids, it also has many different items that are made for the grown-ups, too! Flavored lollies, such as Merlot, India Pale Ale, and Blue Cheese are just a few adult flavors that are offered at Sweet Pete’s. There are only a few locations of these shops throughout the U.S., so come down for a unique experience!
Sweet Pete's Candy Shop
Address: 270 Market Square, Lake Forest, IL
Website: Sweet Pete’s Candy Shop
10. Catch a live show at the Citadel Theatre
Thespians and musical lovers alike, this one’s for you. When in Illinois, support local art and catch a show at the Citadel Theatre. This locale is a professional theatre company situated in Lake Forest and is home to great local productions by locals who have a love for theatrical acting. Visitors can catch dramas, comedies, new productions, as well as contemporary and classical productions, there’s definitely something for everyone’s taste. Currently, the Citadel Theatre is showing the classic, Annie until January 2020, The Fantastiks from February to March, and Brighton Beach memoirs come April. Make your vacation plans to Illinois one to remember and catch a theatre show at the Citadel Theatre to support local artists and also to embrace the inner thespian in you.
Address: 300 Waukegan Road, Lake Forest, IL 60045
Website: Citadel Theatre
11. Lake Forest: A unique visit, full of great people, sweet treats, and unforgettable adventures
There is so much to do and so many things on offer in Lake Forest! With a strong sense of community, there are also many events and outstanding parks. Breathtaking sights of Lake Michigan, stellar shopping experiences, and deliciously satisfying treats are sprinkled around the whole town.
This area is great for families or even couples, who’d just like to have a thrilling, new experience in a happy-go-lucky little town. What’s even better about Lake Forest is its convenient location. Near both Chicago and Milwaukee, it can easily be a one-day detour from a busy-city vacation!
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