Evanston is a famous Chicago suburb located in Cook County, Illinois. It was founded in 1857 by Methodist business leaders and is well known as the home of Northwestern University. The town shares borders with Skokie on the west, Wilmette on the north, Lake Michigan on the east, and Chicago on the south.
The college town is the #1 place to live in Cook County. It’s a great place to enjoy the breezy weather, sandy beaches, and beautiful architecture. Here are 13 must-see attractions to check out in Evanston, Illinois.
1. Northwestern University
Founded in 1851, Northwestern University is ranked among the most prestigious academic institutions in the world and is well-known for its research. There are more than 50 university research centers and 90-school based centers within the university. It’s famous for the Medill School of Journalism, Bienen School of Music, and Big Ten Conference.
2. Shakespeare Garden
Shakespeare Garden is located in the Northwestern University campus and is named after the greatest English writer and dramatist, William Shakespeare, because it cultivates 175 plants mentioned in his work. This four-acre space is fully covered with beautiful trees, flowers, and herbs. It’s a must-see oasis for serene views and tranquility.
3. Block Museum of Art
The Block Museum of Art is also situated inside the Northwestern University campus. Founded by Chicago art collectors, Mary and Leigh B. Block, the museum has a collection of over 4,000 works of art, such as drawings, photographs, prints, and sculptures. Many of the art pieces date as far back as the 13th century. On top of exhibitions and events, it also features a dedicated cinema that’s free and open to the public.
4. Baha’i House of Worship
Baha’i House of Worship is only one of eight continental temples in the world. Baha’i believers and tourists come from every corner of the world just to visit. Apart from being a spiritual site, it is a symbol of amazing architecture with a mesmerizing dome, rich landscape design, and symbols of all major religions. Our recommendation is to not skip out on your visit to Evanston.
5. Dearborn Observatory
Dearborn Observatory is an astronomical observatory inside the Northwestern University campus, known for having the world’s largest telescope. The best part is that it is open for the public to view via the largest telescope. Constructed in 1888, the observatory is historical because it’s centuries old. It’s also the second ever observatory in the United States.
6. Evanston Art Center
Evanston Art Center is one of the most prominent art institutes in the country. It’s a non-profit institute that was founded in 1929, offering art classes, programs, and exhibitions to people of all ages. They also offer scholarships for their classes, summer camps, and venue space for private parties.
7. Grosse Point Lighthouse
Can you believe there’s a land lighthouse in Evanston? Grosse Point Lighthouse was built in 1873 to guide water traffic in Lake Michigan back when Chicago was one of the busiest ports in the country. Before the lighthouse, the area was known as Grosse Point and was named by French explorers. Visitors can visit inside this place and see the historical site, both in-person and online through their virtual tour.
8. Merrick Rose Garden
The Merrick Rose Garden is known for different kinds of beautiful roses all around. There are over 200 varieties of roses and more than 2,000 total roses that you can witness in the summer. The garden is also famous for the historic Fountain Square Centennial Fountain.
The fountain was placed in 1876, which is still there after several renovations in the past decades. The garden is also named after attorney and Evanston alderman, Clinton Merrick. It is dedicated in honor of his services.
9. Evanston Farmers’ Market
Visiting the Evanston Farmers’ Market is a must for flower lovers, paniphiles, and fresh produce aficionados. Up and running by locals for over 45 years, the market has its historical importance. The market is open from May to November on Saturdays.
10. Mitchell Museum of the American Indian
Mitchell Museum of the American Indian was founded in 1977 and is home to over 10,000 Native American objects from the Paleo Indian period to date. It keeps the history and native culture alive. Look out for in-person and virtual events and speakers as well as award-winning film screenings.
11. Evanston History Center
Evanston History Center is actually Charles G. Dawes’ lakefront mansion. Charles G. Dawes’ was the 30th Vice President of the US and is known for his contribution to resolving the issue of Germans in WW1. The VP spent 40 years in Evanston, and his mansion is now open to the public.
12. Lighthouse, Clark Street & Greenwood Street Beach
Pack a swimsuit for these three beaches in Evanston. If you stress about parking, Greenwood Street Beach is one to consider as it has free parking adjacent to the shore. This shoreline also stretches the furthest of the three beaches, giving you more room to enjoy swimming, boating, and jet skiing.
If you’re looking for a more family-friendly experience, Clark Street Beach is a good option. Located near Northwestern University, this area is also home to many residential communities and high schools. You’ll notice a variety of activities within walking distance from the beach. There’s also a walking trail that is separate from the shore where you can walk or ride your bike.
If you’re looking to slow things down and enjoy the views, you’ll want to check out Lighthouse Beach. Once you’ve walked into the park, you’ll descend onto the shore where you’ll be surrounded by dune grasses and native plants. You’ll also have an opportunity to rent fire pits and enjoy the sunset while being warm and cozy.
13. Evanston SPACE
If you’re a music lover, then you have to check out Evanston SPACE. The venue is a large music hall where you can view live concerts. Established in 2008, SPACE has welcomed many well-known musicians like The Lumineers, Alabama Shakes, Graham Parker, The Weepies, and many more.
The live music hall can comfortably seat upwards of 240 people and gives you an amazing opportunity to see a variety of music up close and personal. The tickets are sold out a few days before the event, so make sure to book yours in advance so you can rock out!
Putting Evanston First Since 1991
Now you’re an Evanston tour guide expert! If you’re exploring more of Chicago, read our blog for more neighborhood travel guides.
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