If you’ve committed to maximizing your family fun and exploring the neighborhood this summer, there are plenty of summer activities to enjoy here in Lake Forest, Illinois. Whether you want to cool off with indoor fun or enjoy the sunshine, we’ve rounded up some of the best things to do in the area this summer. Read on for Pasquesi Sheppard’s round-up of the best summer activities in Lake Forest, Illinois.
For a fun day in the sun, pack a bag of sunscreen, snacks, and toys, and head to Forest Park Beach. This 29-acre hotspot is a safe spot for kids to swim, with lifeguards watching the water from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Beat the heat with a sheltered pavilion where you can read, share a meal, or play games while hiding from the summer sun, with concessions available during the summer months.
There are also plenty of opportunities to get some exercise in as a family at Forest Park Beach. Kayaks and canoes are welcome in the water, and two special areas of the lake are designated for non-motorized boats. You can also rent kayaks and paddle boards from June 5 to August 15 from 10 am. to 7 p.m. Or, if other water sports are more your speed, there’s a fishing dock and a launch area for motorboats. Dry off after an afternoon in the water, or take a family walk along one of the park’s scenic walking paths.
If you’re a family of bookworms, consider spending an afternoon indoors at the Lake Forest Library. In addition to its large collection of books for every age group, the local library is a cozy place to enjoy a quiet, serene day. The plush chairs, beautiful chandeliers, and delicate architectural touches might just make you feel like you’re traveling back in time. The library also hosts regular kid-friendly events to entertain students while school is out of session and encourage them to explore new books. This summer, it’s hosting a range of space-themed events for your astronaut-in-training.
The Lake Forest Library also offers plenty of ways to connect with members of your community. Consider encouraging kids to join one of the library’s summer reading programs, which include a series of challenges tailored to each age group. There’s even an option for adults, so parents can play along, too. A range of prizes, such as gift cards for local businesses, free books, or gaming systems, are there to be won.
The Wildlife Discovery Center is the work of the Lake Forest Parks & Recreation Department, but it isn’t your average park. These 670 acres are home to 85 different species of animals, from crocodiles to bobcats. Expert animal trainers monitor the animals and help your group get a closer look at these fluffy and scaley friends while keeping even the youngest visitors safe. Admission is free, and the park is open Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Wildlife Discovery Center also features a variety of educational exhibits for animal lovers in the family to learn more about the natural world. After learning about the many creatures that live at the center, spend some time appreciating the plants and animals native to Illinois with a walk through Middlefork Trail. This trail surrounds the Wildlife Discovery Center, so you can work up a sweat before heading home.
Visiting a local farmer’s market is a great way to secure fresh, high-quality produce and one-of-a-kind artisan goods from local vendors. Farmers’ markets encourage the local economy, enable small businesses to promote their items, and allow you to meet your neighbors. The Elawa Farm Garden Market is open every Friday and Saturday during the summer from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Purchase flowers, food, and craft goods from Lake Forest’s own Elawa Farm, as well as merchandise from other local sellers. Here are some items you can find at the Garden Market:
While you’re there, consider exploring the grounds of Elawa Farm. This historic local property near the Middlefork Savanna celebrates the natural environment of Lake Forest and aims to inspire guests to appreciate nature and learn more about gardening. Spending a day at Elawa Farm and shopping for a basket of unique foods and crafts from the Garden Market is a fun way to learn more about local agriculture in Lake Forest and the surrounding area.
If you’re up for a short drive to nearby Highland Park, you can spend a day lounging poolside at Hidden Creek AquaPark — a small public waterpark operated by the city. There are water slides for kids to race down, plenty of space for playing in the water, and a six-lane lap pool for the athletic swimmer. In the summer months, Hidden Creek AquaPark hosts open swim hours from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends.
There’s no need to pack a picnic, either. You can break for lunch with an order for the concession stand, which sells beloved summer staples, such as pizza, ice cream, nachos, salads, and wraps from local business, Judy’s Pizza. Admissions fees are slightly higher if you live outside of Highland Park, but you can purchase a season pass to save money if you plan to visit the park regularly this summer.
If you’re ready to soak up the summer in the Chicago suburbs, round up the family and head to one of these local spots. Do you know of a great place to make family memories in Lake Forest? If you know of a hidden gem in the area, let us know so we can check it out and add it to our list.