The 15 Best Things To Do In Evanston (Illinois)

Best Things To Do In Evanston (Illinois) – Evanston, conveniently located just north of Chicago, combines the charms of a little town with the conveniences of a big metropolis, including a bustling downtown, a vibrant cultural scene, and a plethora of intriguing shops and galleries. This is represented in many aspects of local life, and it means ethical and sustainable independent enterprises for visitors, particularly in the shopping areas of Main and Dempster Streets.

Northwestern University, one of the country’s best universities, is located in Evanston and is integral to the city’s character. The fine art museum on the main campus is worth a visit. In reality, this is one of a few museums in Evanston worth seeing, featuring exhibits on Native American cultures, stained glass, as well as Toby Jugs.

Because of its proximity to Chicago, Evanston is a quick ride up the Purple Line or the Union Pacific North Metra. It has several attractions, including a historic lighthouse and several small museums, as does every decent college town. At the FEW Spirits distillery, learn how to make the booze that goes into your favorite drinks, rent a kayak and paddle out into Lake Michigan at the Northwestern University Sailing Center, or gaze up at the college’s Dearborn Observatory.

Disclosure: Due to new safety regulations, some of the information regarding the attractions and sites listed below may have changed. For the most up-to-date information, please contact the location.

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What Are The Things To Do In Evanston (Illinois)?

When it comes to things to do in Evanston, Illinois, there are plenty of choices. Whether you’re searching for a night out on the town or a day spent exploring the great outdoors, this vibrant city has something for everyone. Visit one of Evanston’s many bars and clubs to get a feel of the local nightlife. There are just plenty of things to do in Evanston  (Illinois).

There are lots of restaurants and cafes to pick from if you want a more relaxed evening. There are numerous parks and recreational facilities to visit for those who enjoy being active. Whatever your hobbies, you’ll find a lot of things to do in Evanston (Illinois) that you’ll enjoy.

The moments you spend in this lovely city will be ones you will never forget. Evanston is a lovely, busy city with much to see and do, regardless of your interests. Evanston is not your usual college town, even though it is known around the world as the home of Northwestern University. Because of its many greenspaces, convenient public transportation, and strong cultural offerings, this diverse community was recently awarded one of the “Coolest Suburbs in America.” So, what should be on your Evanston list of things to see and do?

Here are some of the best things to do in Evanston (Illinois):

1. Explore the Grounds of Northwestern University


Northwestern University, one of the top academic universities in the United States, is easily Evanston’s greatest employer and adds to the city’s unique culture. The outstanding Block Museum of Art and the Dearborn Observatory are among the items on this university institution.

Pharell Williams, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, David Schwimmer, and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex are all alumni of the university’s performing arts program. Check the Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts‘ calendar for upcoming events, while sports fans can cheer on the Wildcats at Ryan Field on Saturdays throughout the fall season. In the hour leading up to kickoff, there’s a pep rally at Wildcat Alley with local talent and music from the university’s marching band.

2. Block Museum of Art


The highly regarded art museum at Northwestern University is a must-see attraction. The Block Museum of Art has been around since 1980, and in 2000 it moved to a glass-clad Modernist designed by Dirk Lohan, Mies van der Rohe’s grandson and student.

The collection is incredible, with a focus on Chicago graphic work from the 1930s and 1940s, American computer-generated art, early 1990s South African prints, and Midwest documentary photography. Carrie Mae Weems, Barbara Hepworth, Max Beckmann, Joan Miró, Jasper Johns, and Chuck Close are just a few of the well-known artists included in the collection.

Solo and collective exhibitions are carefully curated at this location. Abstraction in the Arab World, Latin American Pop Art, American Art Against Anti-Black Violence, and Isaac Julein’s video art have all been recent subjects.

3. Evanston History Center


Charles G. Dawes (1865-1951), the 30th Vice President of the United States, spent the last forty years of his life in Evanston. He is well known for the Dawes Plan (1925), which was a Nobel Peace Prize-winning solution to the issue of German WWI reparations. The public is welcome to see Dawes’ 1894 Chateauesque lakefront mansion, which is open for docent-led and self-guided tours.

The house is filled with historical furniture and artwork from the Dawes family. There’s a portrait of Dawes’ ancestor William Dawes (1745-1799), who is known for helping to warn of British troops approaching in 1775, at the start of the American Revolution. The library, kitchen, dining room, and great hall are all open to the public, and there’s a permanent exhibit documenting Evanston’s history from uninhabited wetlands and marshy forest to the present day.

4. Mitchell Museum of the American Indian


This fascinating museum in Evanston’s northwestern side highlights Native American history from the Paleo-Indians to the present day. The Mitchell Museum of the American Indian was founded in 1977, and its most popular display is the Regional Tour of American Indian Cultures, which features a wealth of artifacts.

You can learn about Native American peoples’ traditional ways of life, art, and stories in the Arctic, the Woodlands east of the Mississippi River, the Northwest Coast, the Southwest, and the Plains.

Along the way, you’ll see samples of weaving, beadwork, masks, Katsina dolls, pottery, gutskin parkas, bandolier bags, canoes, snow goggles, and totem poles, as well as well-researched accounts. There are also temporary exhibits on a wide range of topics, ranging from jewelry to modern Illinois’ Native American heritage.

5. Grosse Point Lighthouse


The Grosse Point Lighthouse, built in 1873 following a series of maritime disasters, became the primary beacon guiding traffic on the lake into Chicago. The lighthouse, which has an 18-nautical-mile range, is still operational and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. The keeper’s house features interpretative displays, and you can take a tour of the building and enjoy the view from the top, which is 113 feet above Lake Michigan.

The lovely but long-empty Harley Clarke Mansion (1927), set in grounds designed by renowned landscape architect Jens Jensen, is close by. Lighthouse Beach, located on the lakefront, is one of the nicest places in Evanston to spend a warm summer day.

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6. American Toby Jug Museum


This incredible museum is dedicated to the Toby Jug, a type of pottery jug that first appeared in England in the 18th century, and the character jugs that evolved from it. The collection is incredible, with 8,000 pieces beautifully displayed in 97 glass cabinets, and is one of the things to do in Evanston (Illinois) that you’ll enjoy.

There are 300 Toby Jugs in all, all of them are authentic and unique from the 18th century. Royal Doulton character jugs, antique miniatures for dollhouses, works of majolica, and a colorful exhibition of character jugs spanning the history of pop culture, from Star Wars to Marvel, are also on display.

7. Shopping


Evanston offers a number of low-rise shopping districts that are dedicated to supporting local businesses. From south to north, Howard Street is the first, followed by Main Street, Dempster Street, Downtown, and then Noyes and Central Street in the north.

Each area is worth visiting and is served by Metra or L stops. The Main-Dempster Mile, which connects Main and Dempster Streets, is arguably the best spot for independent stores. Belgian chocolate, Ethical fashion, fabrics, pet products, collectible fossils and minerals, vintage jewelry, grain to glass liquor, and much more may be found there.

This region offers a wide range of foods, including Argentine cuisine, Korean-American cuisine, pan-Asian cuisine, gourmet pizza, kombucha, sushi, as well as sustainable coffee shops. From early May until early November, the farmers’ market in downtown Evanston is open on Saturday mornings.

8. Halim Time & Glass Museum


This destination, which has two distinct but equally remarkable collections, is also part of Evanston’s slew of wonderful museums. The Halim Time & Glass Museum is dedicated to stained glass and timepieces, as its name suggests.

There are pieces by masters of the American School, such as Tiffany, Lamb, Tillinghast, and Sperry, in the former. Through oil paintings, pastels, watercolors, pottery, and stained glass, the Treasures of Louis Comfort Tiffany exhibit recounts the artist’s creative life.

The Clocks of the World display is no less intriguing, with over 1,100 timepieces spanning centuries, including automatons, pocket watches, chronometers, tall case clocks, and tower clocks.

9. Evanston SPACE


Evanston SPACE is an innovative music hall that opened on Chicago Ave, near Dempster’s L station, in 2008. It is frequently rated among the best live music venues in Chicagoland. Nick Lowe, Brandi Carlile, David Lindley, Robyn Hitchcock, and Terrence Blanchard are among the genre-hopping artists and bands who have performed here during the last decade.

The venue is also utilized for lectures, discussions, live radio broadcasts, and regular podcast tapings, with room for 250 people at candle-lit round tables.

10. Clark Street Beach


A welcoming stretch of waterfront is located just east of downtown and is monitored regularly by lifeguards from Memorial Day through Labor Day. During the summer, a season pass or day pass is required to reach Clark Beach, however Evanston residents have free admission on Mondays.

There’s an inviting and spotless stretch of beach with a sizable authorized swimming area and volleyball nets near the north end. Although there is a fee, everything, including showers and facilities, is carefully kept. Behind you is Centennial Park, which has a lovely green space as well as a large selection of eateries just a few feet away in downtown and is among some of the things to do in Evanston (Illinois) which you’ll enjoy.

11. Dawes Park


The most beautiful public park in Evanston is located directly south of Clark Street Beach. Dawes Park, which is slightly elevated, is particularly stunning early in the day from spring to fall, when you can watch the sunrise over Lake Michigan. The shallow Arrington Lagoon, which includes a pair of fountain jets, a small island at the south end, and a stage on the north bank for summer outdoor concerts, is the main attraction, which is definitely one of the things to do in Evanston (Illinois) that you’ll enjoy.

The lagoon, which is surrounded by grassy banks, is a haven for aquatic birds and a pleasant place to spend an hour or two in the summer reading a book. When the water freezes over in the winter, the lagoon becomes a skating rink. The Church Street Power Boat Ramp, located at the head of Greenwood Beach, is also open to the public and is located next to the lagoon.

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12. Merrick Rose Garden


Merrick Rose Garden is located in a lush residential neighborhood just southwest of downtown Evanston, and is a popular location for wedding photo sessions. The garden is planted with upwards of 2,000 roses from more than 200 kinds and is meticulously maintained with geometric beds, a small sunken lawn, and clipped shrubs and hedges.

The Centennial Fountain, which was acquired with public funds in 1876, is located on the south end of the park, which was initially laid out in 1948. The current fountain is a replica that was cast in 1912 and updated in 1951, 1988, and 2000.

13. Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park


This park is located on Evanston’s western boundary, the North Shores Channel. The linear park on the west bank is two miles long and is divided into four half-mile sections. It was built in the late 1990s on previously undeveloped terrain, and there were over 60 sculptures on display among the lawns, trees, and bushes.

Stainless steel, concrete, bronze, salvaged aircraft aluminum, redwood, stoneware, and baked clay are among the materials used in these works. Sculptors such as Stacy Latt Savage, Rüdiger Seidt, and Fisher Stolz are among the artists, as are groups of students from local high schools.

14. Dearborn Observatory


This astronomical observatory in a Richardson Romanesque style, built with rusticated limestone in 1888, is a fascinating addition to the Northwestern University campus. The facility may be traced back to the 1860s, when it was home to the world’s largest refracting telescope. To make space for the university’s Technological Institute, the entire structure had to be moved a few hundred feet to the southeast in 1939.

On Friday evenings, the Dearborn Observatory hosts public viewing sessions inside the dome. The hand-crank mechanism was replaced with an electric motor in 1997, and the structure has a distinctive aluminum covering. This is one of the things to do in Evanston (Illinois) that you’ll enjoy!

15. Baha’i House of Worship


The  Baha’i Faith is a modern religion that dates back to the 19th century. Its central tenet is the inherent unity of all world religions. The faith has ten houses of worship around the world, in countries such Langenhain, Germany, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, Santiago, Chile, and Sydney, Australia.

The oldest, erected in 1953, can be located near the North Shores Channel entrance in neighboring Wilmette. The temple, which is open to people of all faiths as a place of worship, is topped by a 138-feet dome and surrounded by fountains and gardens.

The architecture is imbued with symbols from all major religions, particularly on the exterior pillars where the profuse mouldings contain the Star of David, the star and crescent, the Christian Cross, and swastika motifs for the Hindu and Buddhist faiths. There is seating for 1,191 people here, and the architecture is imbued with symbols from all major religions.

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Final Thoughts

Evanston, which is located north of Chicago, blends the charm of a small town with the comforts of a large city. A vibrant city, as well as a thriving cultural environment and a broad assortment of intriguing stores and museums, can be found here.

Despite its international reputation as the home of Northwestern University, Evanston is not your typical college town. This unique community was named one of the “Smartest Suburbs in America” because of its abundant green areas, convenient public transportation, and diverse cultural activities.

Evanston is a distinct community with a diversified population and a long tradition of engagement. Northwestern University draws students and academics from around the world, and new firms spring up on a regular basis. Evanston’s cool factor makes it an eternally exciting destination to live, study, and visit, from museums and parks to restaurants and breweries. Whether you’re visiting Evanston for a day trip or a weekend getaway, there is something to keep you occupied.

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