Blake Walsh

20 Best Things to Do in Evanston, IL

  • Published 2022/11/25

Evanston, located at the north of Chicago, combines the attractions of a little town with the conveniences of a big metropolis.

Here one can find a lively downtown, along with a vibrant cultural scene and a diverse selection of interesting stores and museums.

Evanston is not the average college town, even though it is known internationally as the home of Northwestern University.

Because of its many green areas, accessible public transit, and substantial cultural activities, this unique town was recently awarded one of the “Smartest Suburbs in America.”

The municipality of Evanston fought with the abolitionists during the Civil War.

Evanston experienced massive poverty and demographic expansion following WWII.

The population doubled between 1860 and 1880.

Throughout this time, an ordinance was approved prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages across 4 miles of the Northwestern University campus.

The Women ’s Christian Temperance Union was established in Evanston in 1874, so it became a community that backed the prohibition cause.

Evanston grew and prospered while remaining independent of Chicago.

The area became noted for its stunning lakefront mansions and architecture.

There had been a 70% rise in population during 1920 and 1930.

Evanston is still a strong autonomous city today.

In Evanston, there are also several cultural institutions, a flourishing business economy, as well as open lakefront recreation opportunities.

Evanston is prospering and refusing to be eclipsed by Chicago.

If you’re planning a trip to Evanson but aren’t sure what to do or where to go, you’ve landed at the right place.

In this article, we will list some of the best things you can do in Evanston, as well as the best restaurants and places to visit.

Keep reading to learn more.

Top Best Things To Do In Evanston

Visit Northwestern University’s Grounds

A building at Northwestern University

Liz Albro Photography /

Northwestern University, which is located in the center of Evanston, is a world-renowned educational institution with a magnificent campus and also a diverse range of cultural programs to match.

The eye-catching and isolated Shakespeare Park, as well as the Northwestern Lakefill that provides unrivaled views of Chicago cityscape, may be found on a tour around Northwestern’s grounds.

A building at Northwestern University

EQRoy /

The Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art, including some of the area’s most popular free museums, is also located on campus.

Musical arts building at Northwestern University

Bryan Pollard /

Experience The History At the Grosse Point Lighthouse

Front view of the Grosse Point Lighthouse

Nejdet Duzen /

While visiting Evanston, if you want to see a real piece of local history, the Grosse Point Lighthouse, which has stood since the 1870s, is really a symbol of northern Chicagoland.

Due to a series of tragic shipwrecks as well as maritime disasters, this majestic lighthouse was created to help gently lead boats to shore in Lake Michigan.

Top half of the Grosse Point Lighthouse

Eddie J. Rodriquez /

Throughout the 1930s, the lighthouse was mechanized and stayed operational until the 1940s.

This Evanston landmark is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and therefore is accessible to the public for visits and photography.

Aerial view of the Grosse Point Lighthouse

Moses8910, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Attend A Performance At A Local SPACE

Are you searching for a loud sound in a little space?

SPACE is among the most distinctive music halls in the Chicago area, situated in the vicinity of Evanston.

SPACE has hosted thousands of diverse artists from all over the musical spectrum since its inception in 2008, creating unique soundscapes for fans inside an open environment.

SPACE has not only a stellar lineup of touring bands, but it also has a cutting-edge recording studio.

It includes a dining area opposite Union Pizzeria, Evanston’s favorite location for handmade Neapolitan-style pizzas.

Take A Stroll Around Merrick Rose Garden

Bench at Merrick Rose Garden

Deanna Oliva Kelly /

If you are someone who wants an eye relaxing view, then you must visit the Merrick Rose Garden, located near Lakes Street and Oaks Avenue, which is among Evanston’s best-kept secrets.

This charming nook is home to a large number of eye-catching rose plants, more than 2500 roses in a variety of kinds.

A fountain at Merrick Rose Garden

Deanna Oliva Kelly /

The famous Centennial Fountain also is located in the area.

You can visit to take photos or take a stroll or attend an event during the spring and summer months.

Pretty flowers at Merrick Rose Garden

Deanna Oliva Kelly /

Enjoy Some Time On the Beach

Clark Street Beach and buildings at Northwest University

James Andrews1 /

Evanston, like several of Chicagoland’s North Shore towns, has unrivaled accessibility to Lake Michigan’s magnificent waters.

During spring and early summer, Evanston’s lakeside beaches are packed with kids, neighbors, and international tourists, all enjoying the weather and the mild waves.

A beach at Evanston

Thomas Barrat /

In Evanston, you may choose from a number of popular beaches, such as Lee Street Beach, Green Street Beach, as well as Clark Street Beach, all of which are adjacent to the tranquil and scenic Arrington Lagoon, as well as the gorgeous green expanses of Dawes Park.

People enjoying the sun at an Evanston beach

EQRoy /

Find Your Favourites At The Central Evanston Farmers’ Market

The Central Evanston Farmer’s Market takes place on Saturdays between May and November and is located at the junction of University Place and Oak Avenue.

Over 60 different vendors sell everything from veggies and fruits to delectable baked items and handmade works of art by local craftsmen.

The Farmers’ marketplace is a terrific way of spending a bright, beautiful day in the center of Evanston, with a lot of things to do and see.

One can find here many interesting activities designed for kids.

Best Restaurants To Eat In Evanston

Evanston is among Chicagoland’s top gourmet neighborhoods, with plenty of fantastic locations to grab a bite or a drink while relaxing on a warm summer evening.

The following are some of Evanston’s best restaurants with fantastic patio and rooftop areas:

The Taco Diablo

Taco Diablo is Evanston’s Main Eventer, which offers not only a magnificent terrace but also amazing food.

The menu is simple, with twelve different tacos to choose from, which includes lamb barbacoa, ducks and pork sausage, and favorites including carne asada.

They’re absolutely delectable, and they’re served three to a plate so that you can also mix and match with family-style rice and beans.

A spacious bar, as well as plenty of tables for large groups, may be found in the dark dining hall environment.

The Bat 17

Food served in college bars usually tastes as it came from Costco’s frozen department.

So if you are trying to find a place with fantastic, clean food, you will for sure become delighted, and that’s why Bat 17 is very popular.

Sandwiches, burgers, and fries are on the menu, and they’re made using high-quality products, including homemade bread in certain cases.

The room is packed with televisions, ping pong, and many different games.

It definitely gives you the vibe of a student hangout.

The Edzo Burger Point

Edzo’s is a classic burger restaurant that serves delicious grilled diner-style burgers, chicken wings, hot dogs, and fries.

The color combination of yellow, orange, and brown will remind you of a puffy jacket from the 1980s, but it only contributes to the place’s nostalgic appeal.

Indulge your taste buds by ordering one of their specialty fries, such as buffalo with pepper jack cheese and spicy fries with an oreo chocolate shake.

The Tomato Fresh Kitchen

If you are a vegetarian, then you do not need to worry since Tomato Fresh Kitchen is a tiny carry-out that began selling Latin American cuisine at the Evanston farmers’ markets.

They provide delicious sandwiches, gorditos, tortillas, and vegetarian options such as sweet potato with caramelized onions and yucca mushroom sauce.

You can be sure that everything you purchase will be incredibly delicious.

In fact, the only issue customers have with this restaurant is that it does not stay open until late hours and closes at 6 p.m.

The Union Squared

The Union Squared is located downtown at Revival Food Hall, while the full-service restaurant is situated in Evanston.

Their specialty is Pittsburgh pizza, a cross between Pequod’s griddle and Lou Malnati’s thick dish, with a caramelized base sauce and cheese.

Trying their pizza is the best decision you will ever make.

There isn’t a lot of space, but tables are swiftly turned over, and you may eat on the rear patio throughout the summer.

Best Museums To Visit In Evanston

If you’re on vacation with your family, you’ll undoubtedly want to learn more about history and museums because they provide a wealth of information to you.

The museums listed below are the best in Evanston:

The Mitchell Museum Of The American Indian

If you are worried about what you can do in Evanston, then visiting The Mitchell Museum of the American Indian is a good option.

This museum is located in Evanston, Chicago, dedicated to North American indigenous peoples’ histories, cultures, and skills.

It is a founding member of the Chicago Culture Alliance, bringing together 25 cultural museums and art museums in the city.

The museum’s holdings span the Paleo-Indian epoch to the current day.

Native American civilizations of the Woodland, Prairies, Midwest, Northwest Coastal, and The Arctic are depicted in permanent displays.

Special topic presentations rotate twice a year in two temporary display galleries.

The Cultivate Urban Rainforest & Gallery Museum

Cultivate Urban Rainforest & Gallery is a vibrant plant shop and art exhibit in the heart of the city.

Don’t worry about not having a guide since there are personal plant care instructors who will assist you in selecting the ideal plants for your interests to encourage your new houseplant addiction.

You can also look through their carefully curated variety of attractive houseplants, pots, as well as terrariums made in-house.

Novels, jewelry, crafts, fair trade baskets, and decorations are also available at Cultivate.

You can also participate in a terrarium-making session, a plant discussion, an art exhibition, a performance, or other plant and arts-related activities.

The Halim Time And Glass Museum

Two remarkable collections of clocks and stained glass by America’s best artists are on display at this museum.

Also, over 1,100 items from all over the world are housed here.

The history of the American School of Stained Glass is told via more than 30 magnificent windows.

Only a handful of the show’s masterpieces are Tiffany, Tillinghast, Butcher, and Sperry.

Travel across time to learn about the science and art of record keeping while admiring elegance and craftsmanship.

Castle clocks, crystal oscillators, automatons, wristwatches, and tall box clocks are among the almost 1,100 timepieces on show.

The collection is among the best in the world, having been beautifully restored and conserved.

When you visit this museum, you can learn a lot of helpful information, and there are lots of unique activities you can do here.

Attend a Performance Held at Nichols Concert Hall

After a comprehensive restoration, Nichols Concert Hall was created out of another structure in 2003.

Nichols Concert Hall is a state-of-the-art premier concert venue with 550 seats and a center for music education.

Several food businesses, as well as metered and on-street parking, is conveniently located nearby.

Did you know that the Nichols Concert Hall hosts about 15,000 visitors yearly?

It presents undergraduate recitals, special events, workshops, and master classes in addition to a renowned chamber music program.

Have Fun while Testing your Skills at Lock Chicago Escape Rooms

Lock Chicago is a cutting-edge escape room experience that serves the greater Chicago region from its Evanston location.

Unfamiliar people should know that an escape room is a place that has been furnished with a motif and challenges that visitors and a group of individuals will have an hour to complete.

The objective of an escape room is often to escape the room by deciphering the clues and opening the door.

At Lock Chicago, you won’t be trapped in a space as you would at other escape rooms; instead, you’ll be offered alternative end objectives for each task, making it more of a challenging room experience than an escape room.

Win and get a place on their Wall of Champions!

Pay a Visit to the Dawes House

Exterior of the Dawes House

Burnhamandroot, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This remarkable family residence on Greenwood Street on the Lake Michigan beach was built in 1894 by New York architect Henry Edwards Ficken.

In 1909, after more than 40 years of marriage, Charles Gates Dawes and Caro Blymyer Dawes bought the property.

Every room displays the family’s extraordinary collection of art and furniture, interpreted via their way of life in the 1920s.

Entrance doors of the Dawes House

Burnhamandroot, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Visit the enormous Great Hall, the elegant reception areas, the roomy library, the galleried dining area, and the antique kitchen.

Since 1960, the building has served as the Evanston History Center’s home.

It was labeled a National Historic Landmark in 1966 and still welcomes tourists from Evanston and worldwide.

Plaque of the Dawes House

Burnhamandroot, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Take a Look at Products at the Dave’s Rock Shop

Since it has been a family-run enterprise in Evanston for more than 40 years, Dave’s Rock Shop is incredibly grateful to its repeat and potential buyers for their continued support.

They enjoy the thrill of educating a fresh era of rockhounds about rocks and fossils.

Dave’s Rock Shop wants to keep giving their clients the best material, products, and services possible.

They aim to provide consumers with the finest information about the products they sell while also providing a wide selection of the most distinctive, high-quality things at reasonable prices.

Regularly visit Dave’s Rock Shop since it is constantly updated and expanded.

Spare an Hour of Exploring at Farmhouse Tavern

The second restaurant bearing the Farmheads brand situated at Church St. in Evanston, Farmhouse Tavern, launched its doors in July 2013.

Farmhouse Tavern is a farm-to-tavern food establishment, meaning everything is freshly prepared.

They collaborate with Midwest farmers to create healthy cuisine and beverages by using fresh foods and vegetables in their menu.

The hospitality company Farmheads aims to provide Midwestern food that is accessible, inexpensive and made using sustainable and locally grown components.

They are certain to have a venue that meets your demands, from wedding festivities to private meals with your personal friends.

Final Thoughts

Evanston is a beautiful place to visit since it offers various sights to see and things to do.

With so many restaurants to choose from, you may also enjoy some delicious meals.

Evanston is not only a beautiful destination to visit, but it also provides you with a wealth of information.

The information in the above article might help you organize a fantastic trip to Evanston with your friends or family.

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