Simply past the prosperous suburbs that make up Chicago’s North Shore, Waukegan is a lakefront metropolis that has come by means of lots of regeneration for the reason that 12 months 2000.
On the coronary heart of that is the renovation of the great Genesee Theatre, a downtown mainstay since 1927 and a key performing arts venue for the area after reopening in 2004.
Waukegan has a creative taste, underlined by ArtWauk, a month-to-month occasion in impolite well being, with a number of collaborating artists and native companies.
In summer season Lake Michigan turns into an enormous attraction, and there are miles of sandy shorefront each in Waukegan and subsequent door on the huge Illinois Seashore State Park.
All of the whereas Six Flags Nice America, the most important theme park within the Midwest, is ten minutes door-to-door to the west.
1. Genesee Theatre
Nonetheless an impressive landmark for downtown Waukegan virtually a century after it opened, the Genesee Theatre (1927) has held onto its historic character each inside and outside.
The venue was conceived as a moviehouse and vaudeville stage, but in addition included retail house and 40 residences.
No expense was spared within the development, be it a state-of-the-art heating and cooling system, fireproof supplies, seven tons of marble or 1,200 yards of opulent tapestries.
You may glimpse a lot of that finery within the auditorium, which might maintain 2,403 individuals and has marvelous, restored plaster moldings and a huge chandelier.
This can be a stage for all kinds of leisure, from touring Broadway exhibits to motion pictures, live shows by main artists, ballet, big-name reside comedy, tribute exhibits and all types of enjoyable for teenagers.
2. Six Flags Nice America
One of many 20 hottest theme parks in all the nation is little greater than ten minutes west of Waukegan.
First opened in 1976 as Marriott’s Nice America, the park has 15 pulsating curler coasters amongst its 50+ sights.
A number of standouts for thrillseekers are Raging Bull, which has a drop of 208 toes, Batman: The Experience, with 5 inversions, and Vertical Velocity, hitting 70 mph in below 4 seconds.
Proper subsequent door to Six Flags is Hurricane Harbor Chicago, which grew to become a separate admission park in 2021.
Set across the spacious wave pool, Hurricane Bay, this has a tangle of slides, together with the child-friendly Buccaneer Bay. One record-breaker at Hurricane Harbor is Tsunami Surge, the tallest water coaster on the planet, at 86 toes.
3. Bowen Park
This beautiful park within the north of Waukegan has an fascinating previous and was first specified by 1843.
In these instances this was a residential property, used as a summer season residence by a succession of necessary individuals, together with one-time Chicago mayor John Charles Haines (1818-1896).
The park, serving as a rustic membership for a lot of the 20th century, was offered to the Waukegan Park District in 1963 and is now an city park with some great options.
These embrace stands of outdated development forest and a pure ravine, in addition to a slew of facilities just like the Waukegan Historical past Museum, Jack Benny Heart for the Arts, creatively designed environmental studying stations, a proper backyard, health stations, a skate park, fashionable playground gear and a splash pad.
Given the abundance of mature deciduous woodland, fall is a magical time at Bowen Park.
4. Waukegan Historical past Museum
The gorgeous Haines Home (c. 1843) in Bowen Park is dwelling to the Waukegan Historic Society, which maintains a wonderful museum right here.
The property is among the oldest in Lake County, and affords an perception into native life in Waukegan within the 1870s with the assistance of furnishings and fittings like drapes, wallpaper, carpets and lighting fixtures that after belonged to necessary native households.
The museum brims with fascinating objects recalling well-known native personalities, like a trunk that belonged to Jack Benny in his vaudeville days.
You may as well discover a mattress utilized by Abraham Lincoln when he got here to Waukegan in 1860 and a clock broken when the Lake County courthouse was destroyed by hearth in 1875.
5. Illinois Seashore State Park
There’s virtually seven miles of lovely Lake Michigan shoreline on Waukegan’s northeast outskirts.
This four,160-acre park is about on two neighboring items, and contains a fragile dune system through which greater than 650 totally different plant species have been recorded.
On the sandy ridges develop fragrant pines and stands of black oaks, loosely dispersed in a savanna-like habitat.
In summer season the massive attraction is after all the seashore, which has designated swimming areas, complemented by picnic tables, a campground, park retailer and the 96-room Illinois Seashore Resort and Convention Heart.
6. Waukegan Municipal Seashore
Simply north of the harbor in Waukegan is a stunning place to spend a sunny day by Lake Michigan. Waukegan Municipal Seashore is a mile of pure sand fringed by among the final remaining dunes within the space.
The water on the seashore is claimed to be the cleanest and clearest in Lake County. The encircling park covers greater than 400 acres, and amenities for swimming, sunbathing, kiteboarding, sand volleyball and sand soccer.
The Stiner Pavilion, simply in from the seashore, schedules live shows and festivals all by means of the summer season.
Cellular meals distributors line the seashore on summer season weekends, and in the event you’d like a candy deal with, look no additional than Dockside Ice Cream in a cute clapboard cottage close to the harbor.
7. Downtown Waukegan
With a slew of unbiased companies, a percolating arts scene, historic structure and tree-lined streets, downtown Waukegan deserves slightly exploration.
Meals-wise you’re in good arms, with nice choices for hearty pub fare, tacos, steaks and Caribbean meals, whereas in summer season there are nice little spots for decent canine and ice cream simply throughout the tracks on the marina.
As we’ll see, the third Saturday of the month is ArtWauk, a thriving group occasion, whereas there’s a gradual move of world-class reside leisure on the Genesee Theatre and the extra intimate Three Brothers Theatre.
On the third Saturday of each month downtown Waukegan turns into the cultural hub on the North Shore with a multidisciplinary artwork extravaganza that has now been going for greater than a decade.
ArtWauk is steeped in arts and crafts after all, with a cluster of studios and galleries downtown opening their doorways to guests to view and buy portray, sculpture and ornamental items.
However there’s additionally an enormous serving to of comedy, reside music, movie and road theater, together with nice food and drinks from native eateries and bars.
9. Zümbier Brewery
Even in as of late when there’s a craft brewery in each city, the Chicago space leads the best way.
Chicago counts extra breweries than some other metropolis, in an trade that employs upwards of 50,00Zero individuals. One native institution in impolite well being is Waukegan’s Zümbier, based and owned by a husband and spouse workforce, one half of which is German.
There’s a German accent in relation to the brewery’s lineup of “biers”, produced in small batches and together with 22 year-round brews and a handful of season/particular releases.
A number of picks are Talea (Düsseldorf Altbier), Kölsch Diddy, Hanseatic (Belgian Darkish Beer), Comrade (Imperial Stout), Liberty Name (IPA) and a selection of juicy sours.
The fashionable taproom is open Wednesday to Sunday, and places on reside music and trivia nights, and serves some scrumptious selfmade popcorn.
10. Fishing Charters
With a harbor and 1,00Zero-slip marina loaded with amenities, Waukegan is a pure selection for fishing journeys on Lake Michigan.
The harbor has an prolonged season, from the beginning of April to the beginning of November, and there’s world-class salmon and trout fishing all through this time.
You don’t must carry something with you, or have any fishing expertise, since you’ve received a number of fishing constitution corporations based mostly in Waukegan able to take you onto the lake for an ideal day.
A number of to take a look at are Captain Don’s Constitution Fishing, Lake Michigan Constitution Fishing, Waukegan Constitution Boat Fishing, Kristy Lynn Charters, Bear King Fishing and Windy Metropolis Salmon.
11. Robert McClory Bike Path
A 26.5-mile path passes by means of Waukegan near the lakeshore, from Highland Park within the south to the Wisconsin state line.
This follows among the proper of approach of the Chicago North Shore and Milwaukee Railroad, an interurban line that operated from 1916 to 1963.
The route is beautiful, main largely by means of peaceable and leafy suburban communities, with parks and pure areas on the route, together with Waukegan’s Lyons Woods Forest Protect.
And in the event you get drained the path is at all times near the Metra line, so you possibly can at all times catch a prepare again to Waukegan.
You may as well proceed your journey to Wilmette on the south finish through the connecting Inexperienced Bay Path, and Kenosha, WI, on the northern terminus on the three.5-mile Kenosha County Bike Path.
12. Lyons Woods Forest Protect
Lake County Forest Preserves manages virtually 31,00Zero acres of public land, all inside simple attain of Waukegan.
These are unfold throughout dozens of parcels, inside indoor and out of doors sights, greater than 200 miles of trails and facilities for actions like golf, fishing, swimming, winter sports activities, canine strolling, horseback driving and extra.
One house on Waukegan’s doorstep is the 345-acre Lyons Woods Forest Protect, which has a mosaic of habitats from mature oak woodland to prairie, wetlands and pine groves.
The protect is on excessive floor atop the bluff lands bordering Lake Michigan and has 2.5 miles of trails for mountaineering, biking and cross-country snowboarding in winter.
13. Jack Benny Heart
In Bowen Park, this multidisciplinary arts middle is the seat of the Waukegan Symphony Orchestra and Live performance Refrain, and the Bowen Park Theatre and Opera Firm.
Each corporations schedule quite a few performances annually, whereas the middle additionally affords non-public music classes and courses in theatre, dance and extra for youth and adults.
The venue is known as for the much-loved entertainer Jack Benny (1894-1974) who grew up in Waukegan and returned to star within the Waukegan Symphony Orchestra’s debut efficiency in 1974.
Two dates to mark on the calendar are Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine High quality Arts Pageant in early June and the Joseph A. Favero Memorial Do It Your self Messiah, usually on the third Saturday in December.
14. Ray Bradbury Expertise Museum
The massively influential author Ray Bradbury (1920-2012) was born in Waukegan and spent his early childhood right here. He returned on and off till the age of 14 when his household moved to Los Angeles.
Waukegan stayed with Bradbury, and was known as Inexperienced City in lots of his classics. It follows then that there must be a museum for Bradbury in Waukegan, and this was some years within the planning, lastly opening in 2020 on the creator’s centennial when customer sights had been topic to restrictions.
Once we wrote this text the museum was not but a full fledged attraction, however earlier than lengthy this house on Genesee Avenue can be stuffed with interactive experiences learning Bradbury’s roots in Waukegan, his huge affect on 20th-century tradition and his distinctive imaginative and prescient for the long run.
15. Nationwide Museum of the American Sailor
A short journey all the way down to the navy station at Nice Lakes will carry you to one of many nation’s 10 navy museums managed by the Naval Historical past and Heritage Command.
With greater than 40,00Zero artifacts in its collections, the Nationwide Museum of the American Sailor provides an in-depth account of the U.S. Navy from colonial America to the current day.
You may peruse uniforms, equipment, weapons and a wealth of imedia, together with the most important archive of boot camp pictures within the nation.
Once we wrote this text the principle everlasting exhibit was Sails Unfurled: The Daybreak of the US Navy, 1775-1865, stuffed with interactive options like a knot-tying station. There was additionally an excellent non permanent exhibit displaying the altering designs of navy tattoos.