The Village of Grayslake is located about 40 miles north of Chicago and is a beautiful town equipped with a downtown area, majestic vegetation (like Almond Marsh) and so many other landmarks, features and eateries to match (No, the Grays Lake is NOT in fact gray).
Like many of the other Lake County areas, Grayslake was initially inhabited by the Potawatomi Indians long before European settlers arrived. In 1832, the Potawatomi were removed from the area.
The village name is derived from William M. Gray. Gray and a few other families settled in the area finding fertile soil, groves of trees and a beautiful lake that was unspoiled. The Gray family moved on from the territory soon after (to modern-day Waukegan), however nearly 200 years later, the village still dons his name.
Many Grayslake locals during the start of the Civil War enlisted in the army with a collection of the individuals served in the 96th Illinois Volunteer Infantry. These men sustained high casualties as one in five soldiers would not return, and almost one in four were wounded or disabled.
During the Reconstruction era, the territory was still known as a quiet agricultural society until Henry Hawley, Chase Webb and Charles Whitney created a subdivision and named the settlement officially Grays Lake in 1886. Another significant event that took place was when the Wisconsin Central Railroad was constructed through the downtown area. These two events fueled the growth of the village.
The village was incorporated soon after in 1895.
Many notable figures roots are in the Village of Grayslake including Sara Gruen (author of the “Water for Elephants,” novel which had a film based on her book starring Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson and Christoph Waltz in 2011), the metal band Chevelle known for hits like “Well Enough Alone,” and “I Get It,” and former Mayor of Antioch and Chicago Bear Jim McMillen. Continue here to read more about McMillen.
Visitors will enjoy numerous family-friendly events, unique dining, shopping options and so much more. Grayslake is also home to the Lake County Fair which has been running for nearly nine decades.
Here is your guide to the Village of Grayslake.
Bill’s Pub North was voted Lake County’s best pizza. This restaurant and bar with a unique Northwoods setting has a menu that features the first double-decker pizza, other thin-crust pies, sandwiches and desserts. While you wait for your pizza chomp down some peanuts and throw them on the floor!
Bill’s Pub North, 18945 W. Washington St., Grayslake.
Shopping for produce at a farmers market is not only an excellent way to support Lake County, but it’s an excellent opportunity to enjoy the seasonal splendor weather with the family in Grayslake. Grayslake farmers market offers locally-grown produce, prepared eats, spices, meats, pastries, bread and so much more.
Centennial Park – Downtown Grayslake, 147 Center Street, Grayslake.
Experience casual dining at its finest as this Grayslake restaurant provides a comfortable environment. The Vine is a two-time winner of the Daily Herald Readers’ Choice award for the best martini and has received six other top accolades from the publication mentioned above. The downtown Grayslake venue offers an extensive list of brews, wines and spirits as well as delicious eats that include appetizers, salads, sandwiches, burgers and other entrees. This eatery/drinkery also stages live entertainment every weekend.
The Vine Martini & Wine Bar, 101 Center St., Grayslake.
If you thought you got a good history lesson about Grayslake from reading this blog, you can get even more extensive information at the Grayslake Heritage Center & Museum. The GHCM is dedicated to collecting and sharing the information of the greater Grayslake area. The educational center also offers programs, exhibits, special events, two galleries, a community room and a classroom.
Grayslake Heritage Center & Museum, 164 Hawley St. Grayslake.
This Lake County Forest Preserve property is an 18-hole, par-70 course. The facility also brings individuals together for weddings, meetings and other events that can house up to 165 people. The course also features a full menu of appetizers, entrees and desserts.
The center is home to a wide variety of entertainment acts from musicals to live theatre, to concerts and so much more. This facility is located at College of Lake County and is where the CLC Wind Ensemble and Choir perform. Here are a few of the anticipated annual events the James Lumber Center features.
- CLC Wind Ensemble
- CLC Jazz Band
- CLC Chorus Ensemble
- Lake Forest
- Beatles cover band: American English
- Lake Forest Symphony
- The Navy Band Great Lakes
- Annual Fear No Art Festival at the James Lumber Center
James Lumber Center, 19351 W. Washington St., Grayslake.
Besides the Lake County Fair that has been hosted in Grayslake for nearly 100 years, the Events Center building is open year-round for shows, meetings, weddings, flea markets, antique shows, dog and horse shows, craft shows and so many other events. Here is a snapshot of the annual events that the Grayslake grounds and events center hosts:
- Zurko Antiques & Flea Market
- Live Auctions
- Camping World RV Show
- Harvest Fest
- The Annual Northern Illinois Boat & RV Show
- Lake County Craft Beer Fest
- Lake Count-I-Con (Comic Con)
- Northern Illinois Golf Expo
- Easter Egg Hunt
Lake County Fair & Events Center, 1060 E. Peterson Rd., Grayslake.
The Lake County Farm Bureau has been in existence since 1914 and is a membership organization with over 13,500 members in the county. The farm bureau is committed to promoting and educating consumers about the importance of farmers and agriculture.
You’ll be charmed by the antique streetlights, historic storefronts and open park spaces of this family-friendly community established in 1895. Grayslake had Tree City USA designation since 1994.
This beautifully renovated hotel offers spacious suite rooms with separate living and sleeping areas, microwaves, refrigerators and free high-speed internet access. The Comfort Suites Grayslake also features a free hot breakfast, indoor pool, spa, exercise room and game room. The Grayslake lodging facility is close to favorite Lake County attractions like Six Flags Great America, Gurnee Mills, Grayslake Historical Society & Museum, the Lake County Fairgrounds, Jelly Belly Center Candy Factory, divine restaurants, perfect outdoorsy locations and Lake Michigan.
Annual Fear No Art Festival at the James Lumber Center (late April)
Every year the James Lumber Center gives us a slew of eye-opening performances from the Fear No Art Festival. The Grayslake Art Festival is over 20 years old. This lively fest features a variety of artists performing music, dance and poetry. Also, there will be a stunning display of other art mediums including paintings, photography and sculptures by CLC students and community artists.
Grayslake Annual Craft Beer Fest (early June)
Thirsty for a cold beer? Downtown Grayslake honors the art of beer by offering over 250 selections from more than 80 different breweries at their Fifth Annual Craft Beer Festival. Admission includes a commemorative glass and a festival program. The fest also features live entertainment.
Grayslake Annual Arts Festival & Wine Tasting
The festival, held in Downtown Grayslake, promises to be a day of fine art, family entertainment, and great food from local food vendors. Over 60 artists from all over the Midwest will be displaying and selling their work, representing a wide variety of mediums including pottery, watercolor, oil and pastel painting, pen and ink drawing, wood, photography, sculpture, ceramics, jewelry, functional art, and more. The fest also includes a wine tasting from vino around the globe, kiddie activities and a high school exhibit.
Taste of Grayslake Family Picnic & Fireworks (weekend of Independence Day)
‘The rocket’s red glare’ and ‘the bombs bursting in air’ appears early in Grayslake. The Taste of Grayslake festivities include live entertainment, a moonwalk, carnival rides, face painting, an obstacle course, wall climbing and so much more. Picnics and fireworks just complement each other well.
The Annual Lake County Fair (late July)
For nearly a century, the Lake County Fair has provided a great family experience for members young and old spanning generations. This Lake County staple will include live entertainment, food vendors, live farm animals, carnival rides, games, motocross, a demolition derby, a flower show, the Miss Lake County Pageant and so much more.
Grayslake Summer Days (mid-August)
Grayslake Summer Days is one of the last festivals of the season in Lake County. This family-fun festival features live entertainment, carnival games, bingo, beer tents, arts & crafts, food vendors, a business booth area and go-cart races. Don’t forget to find a good spot on Whitney Street for the Bike and Pet Parade at noon on Saturday and the Summer Days Parade at 6:30 p.m. that night.
Annual Grayslake Color Aloft Balloon Fest (late August)
Look in the sky – it’s a bird, it’s a plane. Is it a plethora of hot-air balloons? The Annual Grayslake Color Aloft Balloon Festival gives attendees the opportunity to witness the inflation and competition as aircraft experts contend in a ‘Fox and Hounds Contest.’ After the sun sets, the sky will light up with the burners of the balloons that illuminate the night. The event includes live tunes, family activities and different food and beverage vendors.
Thanks for helping me learn and grow on this bourbon journey with all of you. I have enjoyed chatting with quite a few and can’t wait to keep sharing and learning in 2018. I’ve tried some awesome bourbon, shared some incredible memories, met a legend, participated in podcasts, and made lifelong friends.
Annual Bourbon & Beer Festival (mid-September)
The Annual Bourbon & Beer Festival thrown by The Vine – Martini & Wine Bar is the party to pick your poison on your favorite libations. The Grayslake festival features over 70 whiskeys, 30 craft breweries, live entertainment, cigars and delicious eats. Attendees must be over 21, and with entry, you will receive a custom beer/bourbon tasting glass.
Mark Your Calendars to Join Us for the Lake County Farm Heritage Association Farm Heritage & Harvest Festival the 4th Weekend in September! Stay Tuned to Our Facebook Page & Website for More Details Coming Soon!!! www.lcfair.com #lcfair #lcfairil #letsgolakecounty #fall #harvest #harvestfest #fallfest #farm #lakecountyfair #lakecounty #grayslake #chicago #illinois #wisconsin
Farm Heritage Days & Harvest Festival at the Lake County Fair (late September)
The Grayslake two-day event features Farm Heritage Tractors and displays, live entertainment, live animals, kids activities, sheep herding, a pumpkin carving demo, a beer garden for adults, delicious eats, fall plants & decor sale, an auction, tractor pulls and so much more.
Lake County Fair & Events Center, 1060 E. Peterson Rd., Grayslake.
Annual Recent Works: A Juried Competition at the Robert T. Wright Art Gallery at CLC
This competition includes many fine art mediums and is open to all artists who live and/or work in Lake County. The winner of this three-decade-long competition will be awarded $2,000 in cash prizes for the college’s art collection.
For more information about the Village of Grayslake, continue here.