Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Vernon Hills, IL

  • Published 2022/05/25

Do you want to connect with lush nature in the comfort of serene suburbs, away from the bustling noise of cities?

Head to this versatile district of Vernon Hills, Illinois.

Situated north of Chicago, Vernon Hills features an inspiring tale of how a small subdivision in the ‘60s with a few hundred residents slowly but steadily grew into a home for more than 25,000 people.

With natural parks, museums, and centers for exciting activities, it’s no surprise that this place has attracted so many people to the idyllic suburban lifestyle.

If you’re interested, check out this list of the best things to do in Vernon Hills, IL:

Bask in Nature at the Century Park Arboretum

Located along Lakeview Parkway, the Century Park Arboretum prides itself on being Vernon Hills’ largest park, estimated to have a whopping 113 acres of land and water.

You can trace the roots of this park back to 1976, when the Urban Investment and Development Company invested in the area, allowing a few activities like tennis and softball.

Since then, the park has thrived, amassing more investments which have turned it into the all-around, go-to place it is today.

Besides the pleasing scenery, the park offers an array of amenities, from lakes and bike paths to children’s playgrounds, picnic gazebos, and open fields.

In Century Park Arboretum, visitors will never run out of things to do!

Cool Down at the Glacier Ice Arena

The Glacier Ice Arena can be your oasis if you’re into ice skating and hockey.

Along Lakeview Parkway, the Glacier Ice Arena hosts public skating rinks where both experts and beginners can glide on the ice.

They also offer private rentals and ice-skating tutorials for those who want to learn with a veteran.

After long hours of skating and hockey, visitors who work up an appetite can purchase snacks like popcorn at the arena’s snack bar.

While they have equipment rentals for one-time visitors, they also have a sports shop if you want some permanent tools and gear.

Get Some Peace at the Deerpath Park

While it may not be as vast as other parks in Vernon Hill, Deerpath Park still has its subtle charm.

The extensive development of Deerpath Park started in 1976 when the community received the Land and Water Conservation Fund Matching Grant (LAWCON), amounting to 120,000 dollars.

Nowadays, the park has transformed into so much more.

Experience the comfort of fine, cozy sand on your bare feet as you play volleyball with peers and strangers on Deerpath’s sand volleyball courts.

Walk along the paths of this park and treat yourself to some peace of mind.

From lush green trees to an open view of calm and clear lakes, Deerpath Park gives its visitors a much-needed rest from the clamors of the outside world.

Relish in the Luxury of Cuneo Museum & Gardens

Luxury and elegance await those who visit Cuneo Mansion & Gardens.

Located on Milwaukee Avenue, this Mediterranean-style mansion is rich in history and culture.

The collaboration of powerhouse architects Benjamin Marshall and Jens Jensen sets this prominent mansion apart from others.

On its own, the mansion has been preserved to portray the splendor of the past.

Bask in the Cuneo family’s collection of classic fine arts: Renaissance-inspired paintings, opulent murals, refined tapestries, and antique furniture.

The museum has also appeared in numerous films, such as My Best Friend’s Wedding, starring Julia Roberts and Cameron Diaz.

Spend Energy at the Skyzone Trampoline Park

Head towards Skyzone Trampoline Park, a place that will exhaust you!

This indoor park is one of the hottest places for children and others in need of burning off some steam.

Play to your heart’s content as you jump on trampolines, try dodgeball, and swim in a sea of soft, synthetically made boxes.

Feast on some tasty snacks and refreshing beverages to recharge your energy in the indoor park’s snack bar, Fuel Zone.

It’s time to return to your childhood and enjoy safe yet fun activities in Skyzone Trampoline Park.

Try Birdwatching at the Half Day Forest Preserve

The Half Day Forest Preserve allows visitors to witness nature’s purest form.

It’s at the edge of Woodlands Parkway, along S. Milwaukee Avenue.

As a migration habitat for various birds, this preserve is most sought out during spring and fall.

Listen to the enchanting calls of male songbirds as they try to attract their female counterparts.

You can also try pond-fishing.

Relax and clear your mind as you wait for various fish to take the bait.

Experience Virtual Reality in Dave & Buster’s

Need a break from real life?

Head towards Hawthorn Center and give this sports bar a try!

In Dave & Buster’s, you can have fun in virtual reality.

There are plenty of scenes to choose from.

Become a Jedi and wield a lightsaber in their Star Wars-inspired VR.

Fight an evolved version of the Terminator.

Go to space in a Star Trek-themed virtual world.

If this doesn’t seem exciting enough, Dave & Buster’s also holds sessions for games such as billiards and bowling!

Try their tasty version of American comfort food: delicious cheeseburgers, ribs, pretzel dogs, etc.

These meals are textbook staples that suit every American’s palate.

Play Golf at the Vernon Hills Golf Course

Following the path of Evergreen Drive, visitors will find themselves in this hidden golf course.

First established in 1979, the Vernon Hills Golf Course has become a top spot for golf beginners and enthusiasts.

Distinguished architect Dick Nugent redesigned the golf fields and added a stylish clubhouse which re-opened in 1996.

The reconstruction, coupled with challenging narrow terrains, has become a worthy test for golf players.

It has been ranked as one of the Top 10 best nine-hole areas in Chicago!

Shop Till You Drop at Hawthorn Mall

Hawthorn Mall’s construction finished in 1973, with 17 stores in its grand opening.

The center has become an ideal location for people in Vernon Hills as one of the top spots for shopping for both luxurious goods and affordable commodities.

Clothes, jewelry, shoes, gadgets, foods, and many other products are available in this shopping center.

They also have many entertainment facilities such as glow-in-the-dark golf, an arcade, and a sports zone.

Located along Hawthorn Center, the Hawthorn Mall offers a quiet, uncrowded stroll as you shop for your essentials.

Try the Motherlode Challenge in the Claim Company

The Claim Company is a popular restaurant in Vernon Hills because of their Motherlode Challenge’s unique menu option!

It’s a challenge that dares customers to finish a 3.5-pound burger with chips within the 45-minute allotted time, and winners get their picture put on their wall of fame.

The Claim Company is also known for its fresh salad bar, which offers plenty of options from dressings to vegetables and fruit.

Feast on some of their unique burgers and browse through their salad options while enjoying the cozy, homey feel of this quaint, wood-furnished restaurant.

Don’t forget to drop by this local favorite, situated within the Hawthorn Center, for a delicious meal and a challenge to beat.

Play a New Game with WhirlyBall

If you’d like to play fun games with your friends and family, stop by WhirlyBall in Vernon Hills.

Found at Center Drive, this entertainment venue features WhirlyBall, a one-of-a-kind game played as a fun mix of lacrosse, hockey, basketball, and bumper cars.

They also have other staple games such as bowling, laser tag, and simple games like Giant Jenga, Ping Pong, and Cornhole.

You don’t have to worry about thirst or hunger after long hours of playing games because WhirlyBall is home to the Pivot Room, a bar and restaurant area inside the facility.

It’s time to get active and try something new with this unique, innovative game in Vernon Hills.

Workout at Bears Fit

Fitness buffs must try this innovative facility in Vernon Hills.

Bears Fit opened recently in 2019 and is already becoming a staple for fitness buffs in the area.

The facility covers up to 45,000 square feet of fitness facilities like turf fields, group fitness studios, recovery lounges, kid’s rooms, fitness equipment, etc.

It contains top-of-the-line equipment with diverse functions from healing and recovery to cardio, strength, and core training.

Their trainers can also show beginners the ropes and suggest a fitting workout routine for their body goals.

You can find all the tools for a tiring and satisfying workout in Bears Fit fitness center.

Check it out!

Spend the Day at Mellody Farm

Down Milwaukee Avenue, you’ll find this gem of a mall, the Mellody Farm.

Don’t be fooled by the name: this so-called farm’s not quite like any other.

For one, it’s more of a shopping center than a regular farm that houses animals and crops.

Recently opened in 2018, you can expect a modern, rustic vibe in its design and decor with a collection of pop culture stores and shops for the convenience of all its customers.

You can also roam around the center, hunt for exclusive, vibrant murals painted on the walls, and take pleasing pictures with them in your backdrop.

To taste the city in this rural town, head to Mellody Farm.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Visit Adlai E. Stevenson Historic Home

Exterior of Adlai E. Stevenson Historic Home

Teemu08, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Less than ten minutes away from Vernon Hills, in the village of Mettawa, the historic residence of former governor of Illinois Adlai E. Stevenson still stands.

He was an influential statesman who played a critical role in the Cold War.

His house, built in 1938, was named a National Historic Landmark in 2014.

To get a glimpse of the original American lifestyle in the 19th century, check out the historic building.

Browse the area’s exhibits and self-guided trails and bask in the feel of an authentic “house on the prairie.”

It’s a great way to learn about Illinois, so don’t miss out on this home!

Try the Donuts of Didier Farms

Didier Farms is in Lincolnshire, Illinois, about 12 minutes away from Vernon Hills.

You can enjoy an activity with each passing season—donuts in summer, farmstand in spring, pumpkin fest in fall, and a greenhouse all year round.

It’s a relaxing place where you can purchase various products that involve farm materials, depending on the season’s specialties.

You could also meet some of their farm animals like cows, goats, and farm birds.

You can find this fun and interactive farm along Aptakisic Road in Lincolnshire.

Final Thoughts

Vernon Hills may look like a typical small-town suburb with few places to go, but the truth is, this place has so much to offer!

It has diverse activities for all types of people.

Whether you’re into laidback adventures with nature or you would like to experience something new in virtual reality, Vernon Hills can surely come up with something you will enjoy.

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