14 Things To Do In Lake Forest, Illinois

things to do in lake forest illinois
| 6 min read

Lake Forest is an elegant, small town in Illinois, 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. Stay in the nearby hotels as you discover more of what Lake Forest can offer. 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. Skokie River Nature Preserve

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Skokie River Nature Preserve is the oldest and largest nature preserve in Lake Forest. This massive piece of land consists of prairies, savannas, woodlands, and sedge meadows. It is home to many rare species of plants and animals that you may see when walking or skiing around the area.

For adventurers, there is a restored swinging bridge that you should try. This is a great place to relax and unwind, be with nature, and appreciate the preservation of land to save more of our natural attractions.

Skokie River Nature Preserve

Address: Skokie Hwy, Lake Forest, IL 60045, United States

Website: Skokie River Nature Preserve

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2. Prairie Wolf Dog Park

Prairie Wolf Dog Park
Source: Photo by Flickr user Center for Neighb... used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Bring your furry friends to this lovely off-leash dog park. Prairie Wolf Dog Park is one of the special places in Lake Forest where dogs can run and play freely. It is a large, fenced area that features training grounds, fields, and trails that both you and your four-legged pals will enjoy.

There are also toilets that you can use and a drinking fountain if ever you feel thirsty after playing around. You can also head to the pond where your dogs can swim and splash.

Prairie Wolf Dog Park

Address: 1917-2075 S Waukegan Rd, Lake Forest, IL 60045, United States

Website: Prairie Wolf Dog Park

Opening hours: 6:30am - 7pm (daily)

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3. Gorton Community Center

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

#snow #community #gortoncenter

Posted by Gorton Center on Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Gorton Community Center is a place where people gather to interact, perform, and learn. This is a nonprofit organization that aims to share great social experiences with people of all ages. It is filled with fun programs that involve an appreciation of the arts and culture.

Dance, performing arts, films – you’ll get to explore these in the center. They also hold summer camps where teens and adults enjoy spending time with other people, discovering talents, and making new and fun memories.

Gorton Community Center

Address: 400 E Illinois Rd, Lake Forest, IL 60045, United States

Website: Gorton Community Center

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 9am - 5pm (closed on Sat & Sun)

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4. Everett Farms

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Did you know our hours? Sun to Thurs 11:30 to 8:30 PM Friday & Saturday 11:30 to 9 PM Yup, that’s lunch AND dinner (sorry, no breakfast just yet )

Posted by Everett Farms on Saturday, December 11, 2021

Pay a visit to Everett Farms, a farm-to-table café that serves food from the freshest of ingredients. It’s a happy place where people enjoy good food and quality drinks. The place has a vibrant ambiance that attracts its customers.

It serves excellent steaks, pasta, and seafood that the whole family will enjoy. You can also choose from a variety of cocktails, craft beers, and wines. If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll be glad to know that they have homemade ice cream and crème brulee for dessert.

Everett Farms

Address: 840 S Waukegan Rd Suite 113, Lake Forest, IL 60045, United States

Website: Everett Farms

Opening hours: Fri - Sat: 11:30am - 9pm; Sun - Thu: 11:30am - 8:30pm

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5. The Popcorn Factory Store

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

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

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6. Lake Forest Book Store

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Lfkref used under CC BY-SA 3.0

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

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7. Wildlife Discovery Center

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

The Wildlife Discovery Center is full of Lake Forest activities, 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

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8. Market Square

Market Square (II)
Source: Photo by Flickr user Teemu008 used under CC BY-SA 2.0

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.

Market Square

Address: 269 Market Square, Suite C, Lake Forest, IL

Website: Market Square

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9. Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve

Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve
Source: Photo by Flickr user Eli Naeher used under CC BY 2.0

Wondering what to do in Lake Forest, Illinois? 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

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10. Chocolates by Bernard

Editor’s Note: Establishment is permanently closed at the time of writing

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

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11. Elawa Farm

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

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.

Elawa Farm

Address: 1401 Middlefork Dr., Lake Forest, IL

Website: Elawa Farm

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12. Forest & Found

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

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

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13. Sweet Pete's Candy Shop

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

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

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14. Catch a live show at the Citadel Theatre

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

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.

Citadel Theatre

Address: 300 Waukegan Road, Lake Forest, IL 60045

Website: Citadel Theatre

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Lake Forest: A unique visit, full of great people, sweet treats, and unforgettable adventures

Lake Forest City Hall
Source: Photo by user Teemu08 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

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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Frequently asked questions about things to do in Lake Forest, Illinois

  • Which are the best attractions to visit in Lake Forest?

    Lake Forest is home to many great attractions. Skokie River Nature Preserve is a great place to relax and unwind, Prairie Wolf Dog Park is one of the special places where dogs can run and play freely, and Gorton Community Center is a place where people gather to interact, perform, and learn.

  • What are the best activities in Lake Forest?

    There are many fun activities in Lake Forest. Enjoy birdwatching, skiing, and biking at Fort Sheridan Preserve, learn about different animal species at Wildlife Discovery Center, and try the restored swinging bridge at Skokie River Nature Preserve.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Lyndi, an up-and-coming writer, college student, and traveler, possesses a profound fascination for exploring the uncharted. She derives immense pleasure from discovering fresh destinations and...Read more

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