Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Lake Forest, IL

  • Published 2023/03/19

Along Lake Michigan’s shores are many attractions at Lake Forest, Illinois.

This place offers a stellar blend of lush, serene nature with a city’s modern, captivating sights.

Its origins can be traced back to 1857 when it had been a simple stop for people headed toward Chicago.

Lake Forest has an array of tourist destinations, from environmental preserves to entertainment sites.

This beautiful city is in Lake County.

You can expect charming local shops, historical adventures, and several natural locations.

Whether you’re a child, a teen, or an adult, this place will likely have something for you.

Check out this list and learn the best things to do in Lake Forest, Illinois.

Hike and Bike at Middlefork Savanna Forest Preserve

The waters of Middlefork Savanna Forest Preserve

John Ruberry /

Middlefork Savanna Forest Preserve is home to tallgrass savannas, woodlands, prairies, and wet marshes.

At Middlefork Drive, this preserve has features recognized as a globally threatened ecosystem.

Volunteers work hard to preserve the new premises and keep them in their original form.

Whether you’re a hiker or a biker, there are scenic trails that you can enjoy in Middlefork Savanna Forest Preserve.

Close view of a flower at Middlefork Savanna Forest Preserve

John Ruberry /

Other than those activities, you can try cross-country skiing, touring the exhibits, and admiring the plants.

It’s also become the natural habitat of many uncommon birds, butterflies, and animal species.

From 43 acres in 1989, this preserve expanded to 52 in 2000.

Make sure to visit this good preserve!

Vibrant flowers at Middlefork Savanna Forest Preserve

John Ruberry /

Enjoy a Tranquil Getaway in Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve

At Gilgare Lane, Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve is a tranquil reprieve from the modern world.

As one of the city’s top destinations, this destination provides public access to the wonders of Lake Michigan.

You can walk through beautiful woodlands, climb up the land’s rolling terrains, and glimpse scenic views of a calm lake.

There are also outdoor exhibits to guide you through the terrains and help you learn about nature.

Other popular activities include fishing, biking, cross-country skiing, and birdwatching.

Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve spans about 250 acres, so there’s plenty of space to roam and explore.

For those in need of relaxation, this place would be perfect for you and your family!

Check Out the Elawa Farm Foundation

Elawa Farm Foundation is a destination that mixes good food and local agriculture with a scenic environment.

At Middlefork Drive, this venue has an array of diverse attractions.

You can head to the local farmer’s market, learn cooking styles from the kitchen, and explore a romantic garden.

The market offers fresh organic products at affordable prices!

Meanwhile, the gardens are home to colorful flowers, beautiful butterflies, and small garden critters.

Founded in 1917, Elawa Farm Foundation was supposed to be a simple family farm.

Today, it’s become a public destination for tranquil leisure, casual recreation, and local shopping.

See all the offerings at Elawa Farm Foundation!

Explore the Mellody Farm Nature Preserve

You should visit Mellody Farm Nature Preserve to take in the beauty of Lake Forest’s environment.

Located along Waukegan Road, this preserve is ideal for exploring the lovely outdoors.

The picturesque landscape is filled with vibrant greens, cultivated flowers, and adorable animal species.

Mellody Farm Nature Preserve didn’t always present a vision of nature’s paradise.

It became barren in 1994 when developers heavily grazed and farmed the area.

Thanks to a boost in conservation efforts, the lands were carefully nurtured into their former conditions.

Exploring Mellody Farm Nature Preserve can show you the splendor of a diligently restored environment.

Give it a shot!

Catch a Concert at Gorton Center

Gorton Center is the city’s go-to destination for performing arts, culture, and live shows.

At Illinois Road, this theater welcomes anyone interested in watching on-site performances.

This includes musical concerts, comedy shows, film festivals, children’s programs, and other arts.

No matter your age, Gorton Theater is bound to present you with a memorable experience.

It’s an excellent attraction for modern entertainment while also seeing local skills and talents.

It’s also a historic building built in the early 20th century.

Since its first establishment, Gorton Center has provided the city with a hub for culture and arts.

If that interests you, add this place to your list!

Hunt for Good Finds in the Lake Forest Book Store

Despite its name, the Lake Forest Book Store is more than a bookstore.

It’s also a stellar destination for unusual gifts, toys, and puzzles, which can serve as take-home souvenirs.

If books are more of your thing, this place has almost everything from newly released novels to the classics.

There’s a good selection of items in the Lake Forest Book Store.

The friendly and knowledgeable staff can recommend books and items according to your tastes.

They also host events like book signings and story readings with the authors.

Take a casual look around the Lake Forest Book Store and bask in the smell of freshly printed pages.

You only need to bring yourselves towards Western Avenue!

Go Shopping at Market Square

Shops along Market Square

Slo-mo, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Impressively, Market Square has been in business since 1916.

Its various stores, delightful staff, and comfortable ambiance have attracted loyal customers.

They feature high-end boutiques and an array of affordable shops to cater to many preferences.

With its old age, there’s also a historic charm to the building.

Macy's at Market Square

Slo-mo, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

It was one of the first planned shopping centers in the whole country of the United States.

You can explore the establishments or relax at one of the chairs near the European-themed fountain.

If you’re searching for a shopping destination, Market Square might be the place that can suit your tastes.

It’s in Market Square Circuit within the Chicago metropolitan area.

Enter the Woodlands of Skokie River Nature Preserve

The Skokie River Nature Preserve has become a prime outdoor destination with its gorgeous landscape.

Nestled along Skokie Highway, the hiking trails offer scenic views of the environment.

From lush greenery and blooming flowers to birds and native animals, the preserve is home to nature’s gifts.

Many rare species of plants and animals can be found within the premises.

You’ll also find a mix of vibrant meadows, magical woodlands, and sweeping prairies in Skokie River Nature Preserve.

Indeed, it’s a gem for nature enthusiasts!

You can also try to walk the on-site swinging bridge!

It’s a delicate, swaying wooden bridge positioned high above the ground for those who want some thrill.

Catch Top-Notch Performances at Citadel Theater

Citadel Theater is a non-profit organization that seeks to showcase complex and powerful performances.

From its directors and writers to actors and actresses, each person devotes much of their time to fostering their craft.

The theater also hosts a variety of genres, including comedies, musicals, dramas, and religious works.

At Waukegan Road, this venue presents amazing shows at affordable prices!

It’s also held in a small, intimate venue that adds charm and clarity to their performances.

While the building may not be the largest, the venue makes up for it with well-produced entertaining shows.

Citadel Theater is open to anyone who’s into the performing arts.

It’s also a splendid way to check out the local talents of the city.

Visit the History Center of Lake Forest

For curious travelers, the History Center of Lake Forest is a building dedicated to preserving the city’s story.

Once a church, the museum has become a haven for old items, antiques, and vintage goods related to Lake Forest.

You’ll find interactive touchscreens displaying information about how the city was formed.

It also showcases how times have changed, so you can feel nostalgic as you explore.

The staff also hosts robust programs like trivia nights, panel discussions, story times, music, and many more.

The History Center of Lake Forest is located east of Deerpath Road.

Besides having fun, you should also have a bright learning experience while traveling the city!

Bring Your Dogs to Prairie Wolf Dog Park

Your friendly fur animals are the star of the show at Prairie Wolf Dog Park.

This attraction lets visitors bring dogs into a unique park with spacious greens and space to roam around.

You can temporarily let them out of their leash, allowing them to explore nature’s wonders freely.

It spans 44 acres, with strong fences surrounding the premises to keep your dogs inside the park.

Inside the enclosure, you’ll find easy trails, large fields, bodies of water, and a drinking fountain.

Dogs are allowed to swim in the shallow waters if they’re interested!

It’s a treat that your dogs will likely appreciate!

You can find this destination along West Winchester Road.

Book Tee Time at Deerpath Golf Course

Despite being open to the general public, Deerpath Golf Course can maintain its excellent facilities.

It’s a course that presents a stellar form of golf through pristine greens, unusual water traps, and sandy slopes.

Dense trees for a natural atmosphere also surround you.

Other amenities include a driving range, a practice chipping area, a golf shop, and a restaurant.

You can spend the whole day at Deerpath Golf Course because it has everything you need!

From merchandise shops and golf tools to food and drinks, there are lots to see in a single destination.

If you’d like to try this place, you can locate this golf course along Deerpath Road.

Satisfy Your Cravings at Sweet’s of Lake Forest

Sweet’s of Lake Forest is one of the most popular dessert shops in the city.

Despite being a small, local establishment, they’ve managed to keep a steady flow of customers.

You’ll enjoy the smell of freshly baked goods when you step through those doors.

The bakery itself features a cozy atmosphere, from the presence of its wooden shelves to the mellow lighting.

Sweet’s of Lake Forest has an assortment of treats to choose from!

There are fudge chocolates, smooth caramels, toffees, cookies, and many other sweet goodies.

What started as a small business in 1982 has become a culinary sensation, steadily drawing customers across the region.

Taste local goods at this bakery along Deerpath Road.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Go Swimming at Rosewood Beach

Sunny day at Rosewood Beach

Michael Heimlich /

During summer, Rosewood Beach opens to provide guests with a splendid way to cool off the heat.

The beach features soft, pristine sands and beautiful azure waters for swimming and lively recreation.

They also hold live community events, including storytelling times, children’s workshops, and fitness programs.

If you’re craving snacks and drinks, there’s a concession stand with a wide assortment of beach-worthy fixings.

Lifeguard at Rosewood Beach

Michael Heimlich /

Indeed, this serene beach is a worthwhile stop for individuals, partners, families, and all kinds of people.

While Rosewood Beach is not necessarily in Lake Forest, you can still find it less than 20 minutes away!

It’s nestled in Highland Park, Illinois, along Ridge Road.

People at Rosewood Beach

Michael Heimlich /

Meet the Friendly Animals at Lambs Farm

Every summer, you can enjoy the offerings of Lambs Farm.

This place is primarily a facility that can provide people with complete residential and vocational services.

However, they host events that attract guests from around the city and region.

For example, they’ll open their closed barns so the animals can be part of feeding and petting activities.

There’s also a pet shop in case you want to take home a new best friend or some pet-related materials.

It’s a splendid attraction for families because each member can likely find an activity to try.

Lambs Farm is in Libertyville, Illinois, along the lengths of Rockland Road.

It’s about 15 minutes away from Lake Forest, so that it won’t be too far of a trip!

Final Thoughts

Lake Forest is home to several family-friendly attractions.

From modern entertainment and cultural museums to natural preserves and farms, the city has many sights and activities.

Discover the best things to do in Lake Forest, Illinois!

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