10 Things We Love About Lake Forest

When a little R&R is needed, Chicagoans often escape to the resort home communities of Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin. But what if we told you there was a place, within Illinois, that has many of the same great qualities? We’re talking lake access, a beautiful beach, a quaint downtown, and all-around natural beauty. Drive about 30 miles north of Chicago – or hop on the train – and you’ll discover this gem of a community otherwise known as Lake Forest.

There’s a lot to love about this North Shore suburb, but for now we’ll share 10 things:

Array of Properties

From stately mansions and historic estates to new-construction apartments, condominiums, and single-family homes, Lake Forest is home to a variety of properties. Some of the area’s most notable homes highlight the work of legendary architects like Howard Van Doren Shaw, David Adler, and Henry Ives Cobb.

It’s not just the properties themselves that residents find appealing – it’s also lower effective taxes relative to many neighboring communities.

Market Square

The historically significant landmark has turned into a charming hub of boutiques and dining options. Grab lunch with a friend at Left Bank and roam the streets with a coffee in hand. Or shop for cozy outerwear and footwear at Forest Bootery; clothing, jewelry, and gifts at Valentina; and adorable kids’ fashions at Penny’s from Heaven.

The square is more than just shopping. Kiddles Sports has been around for over 50 years and offers skilled bike mechanics to take care of all your bicycle needs. And with all the nature there is to explore nearby, Kiddles really comes in handy.

All Aboard!

While Lake Forest is further north than its North Shore counterparts, getting downtown is still just as easy thanks to two commuter rail lines. There’s a Metra station right in town that offers convenient access to Ogilvie Transportation Center, as well as another stop along Metra’s Milwaukee District/North Line that takes you to Chicago’s Union Station.

Cultural and Recreational Opportunities

Lake Forest is filled with opportunities and events that give you the chance to experience something new. Try your hand at sewing, Tai Chi, or a Latin dance class at Gorton Community Center. Gorton’s state-of-the-art performing arts venue also features a variety of live performances. Ragdale is another haven for creative professionals, offering an artists’ community inside the former country estate of Howard Van Doren Shaw.

You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy sports programs in Lake Forest, as the community’s Recreation Center offers activities for everyone to get physical. Take advantage of slow-pitch softball and over 35 exercise classes.


Lake Forest boasts great dining options that span a wide range of cuisines. For exceptional rustic Italian dishes, visit Francesca’s Intimo. Other options include Authentico Mexican Restaurant & Bar, Kuro Bistro for sushi, and Chief’s Pub for American bites with a twist.

Natural Beauty

With easy lake access, residents and visitors can enjoy the community’s fabulous beach and amenities like sheltered pavilions, a fishing pier, and boating. Sailing classes and a variety of rentals are also offered so you can make the most out of your visit.

If you prefer to stay dry, there are plenty of recreational trails to walk and bike – 30 miles worth of trails to be exact.

Deer Path Inn

Deer Path Inn is a beloved English-inspired boutique hotel that has been recognized by Travel & Leisure as the top resort hotel in the Midwest. Its award-winning restaurant, The English Room, offers an elegant dining experience, while The Bar is a popular spot for beverages and casual dining. In the mood for classic pub fare? Look no further than White Hart Pub. And we can’t forget to mention Afternoon Tea, a tradition where carefully selected teas are paired with bites such as English Cucumber sandwiches, tartlets, and house made scones.

Photo from Elawa Farm

Elawa Farm

This 16-acre restored farm and garden has taken on a new life and invites members of the community to partake in everything from cooking classes to floral arranging.

Meanwhile, The Kitchen at Elawa beckons visitors with handmade pies, scones, and fresh soups, and also teaches how to prepare these meals and properly utilize in-season produce. If you’re bringing home new recipes and methods, you might as well join in their floral arrangement class, where you’ll learn to create beautiful boutiques that are sure to make the perfect center piece.

Wildlife Discovery Center

The Wildlife Discovery Center is a living natural history museum that piques the interests of all ages. In this intimate setting, you can learn about wildlife conservation and explore trails and nature-based programs with reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals.


From elementary school all the way through high school, students have access to accelerated programs, athletics, and clubs. The city is also home to Lake Forest College, which offers students the opportunity to participate in over 80 activities and clubs, and features speakers open to the public.

Written by @properties
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