The Must Do’s and See’s of Lake County 2014

2014 is your year! Can you feel it?  It holds excitement and adventure around every corner!  It’s the year of new things and no regrets!

The fun part of it all?  You don’t always need a plane ticket to discover a memory you’ll carry with you forever.  There are plenty of new things to try, new places to see and new “remember when’s” waiting for you in Lake County.  This year, fill every waking minute with 60 seconds worth of fun by finding a new favorite restaurant, conquering a roller coaster, or exploring over 30,000 acres of Forest Preserves.

We have 12 months to fill, so let’s get started with Lake County “Musts” of 2014

Goliath at Six Flags Great America and Hurricane Harbor
All eyes will be on Lake County this spring, when Six Flags Great America in Gurnee unveils the world’s largest, fastest and steepest wooden roller coaster.  We’re talking about… Goliath.  Enthusiasts and thrillseekers from around the world are buzzing about this new addition, so when it opens this spring, you’ll want to be there!

Volo Auto Museum
With over 300 classic, antique, muscle and Hollywood cars on display and for sale, Volo Auto Museum is rated #2 auto museum in the world.

Kids will love the displays of Disney collectibles and movie cars like Doc’s DeLorean from Back to the Future.  Save a little extra time and explore their 5 antique malls.  Plus, the grounds have been officially deemed “haunted” by Discovery Channel’s Ghost Lab, so you never know what… or who you’ll find!


Tempel Lipizzans
For almost 30 years, the Tempel Farms has been home to 90-minute horse ballet performances that follow the tradition of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.  Performances chronicle the horses’ training from the youngest horses to the most highly trained stallions all performing to musical accompaniment.  Marvel at the grace that these giant white stallions and their handlers move to classical music.  Performances start on June 21 and run through the September.  There are only 18 chances this year to experience the Tempel Lipizzans horses, so don’t miss out!!

Festivals of Long Grove
Long Grove is known for its quaint covered bridge, cobbled stone sidewalks, cute shops (including Long Grove Confectionery Company) and they really know how to put on a festival!  Live music, delicious food from vendors, and even carnival rides are some of the pieces that go into making these festivals so unique.

  • Chocolate in Bloom Festival: May 9 – 11 (This year the festival includes spring flowers!)
  • Apple Festival:  Sept. 26 – 28
  • Strawberry Festival:  June 20 – 22

Lincolnshire Marriott Theatre
This year’s lineup once again reminds us that the Broadway musical performances of the Lincolnshire Marriot don’t leave anything to be desired.  See Cabaret (Jan. 15 – March 16), Cats (March 26 – May 25) Godspell (June 4 – August 10), On The Town (August 13 – Oct. 12) and The King and I (Oct. 22 – Jan. 4, 2015) Enjoy one of their musical packages and stay overnight at the Lincolnshire Marriott Resort and dine at King’s Wharf for some of the best steak and sea food on Chicago’s North Shore.

Chicago Botanic Garden

Smugmug User Chicagobotanicgarden

No matter what time of year the Chicago Botanic Garden has 385 acres of meticulously manicured gardens.  Explore their world famous Japanese gardens or venture off to find your own piece of horticulture nirvana.  Spring Walks start in May and you can enjoy them throughout the season, but trust me…. You’ll want to be there for the crabapple blossoms.   As you walk through a fantasy landscape of powder pink apple blossoms and blooms of fluffy floral poofs that decorate the air with heavenly fragrances, fantasy landscape, you won’t want to be anywhere else!

Wildlife Discovery Center
Experience exotic wild life and get up close and personal with your favorite scaly creatures!  Don’t worry though… they have cute and cuddly little friends for the less adventurous cubs in your pack.

Summer Festivals
Music. Food. And Drinks. Oh My.
When the weather’s fine, you can find us outside exploring a festival.  Bring friends, family, and some sunscreen to a couple of our more popular festivals, but keep your eyes open for smaller festivals to stop at along the way, because they’re EVERYWHERE!

  • Taste of Lincolnshire
  • Grayslake’s Annual Bourbon Festival
  • Antioch’s Summer Bazaar
  • Gurnee Days Summer Celebration
  • Zion’s Nostalgia Days & make plans for end of summer for their Jubilee Days on Labor Day
  • Lake County Fair
  • July 4th Celebrations (Might I suggest the fireworks at Great America?  They really stole the show last year!)

Ravinia Festival

Ravinia Festival

This is the mother of all festivals!  It runs all summer long and is an absolute MUST!  Let me paint you a word picture for a second…  You’re lying on a blanket and sipping a glass of your favorite wine (pinot noir) beneath a night sky painted with a kaleidoscope of stars as the heat from a summer’s day fades into pleasant night’s breeze that carries with it ear candy sounds of a live musical performance, and take as many pictures as you want, but don’t you dare use a flash…. The lit candelabras around you have created the perfect glow and your skin looks flawless.
It’s that perfect.
Oh wait… I almost forgot that it gets better.  They also have amazing food and you can order a picnic basket, or you can go early to dine in their beautiful restaurant.  Or even bring in a cooler with your own favorites already packed (pinot noir).

Richardson’s Adventure Farm and Corn Maze
This isn’t just a tiny little corn maze… this is the world’s largest corn maze and it’s right here in Lake County!  Get lost in over 33 acres of living corn… but don’t worry about getting too lost, there are maps and helpful faces to help you get through the labyrinth.  Climb inside of a zorbing ball as you roll down a hill, or go soaring on their 700’ zip line.

Watch Video!

Charter Fishing on Lake Michigan
Let Captain Rick lead the way to a trophy salmon catch off the shores of beautiful Lake Michigan.  As he heads out of the Waukegan Harbor, to open water that spans out as far as the horizon, it’s easy to drift away from the busy hustle of everyday life.  Enjoy food and drinks and bring home racks of Coho Salmon, Lake Trout or King Salmon (depending on the season).  Captain Rick knows all of the best places to fish, and it’s a wonderful way to spend a day out on the water with friends or family.  

Haunted Houses
Lake County is your home of thrills AND chills!  The two highest rated and most visited haunted houses in the region are the Dungeon of Doom and the Realm of Terror… and they never disappoint.  The mad scientists behind these scream-parks come up with new ideas every year, so you never know what to expect around each corner!

Gurnee Mills
Seriously.  Have you been here lately?  They’ve added so many shops that it doesn’t even feel like the same mall from a few years ago!  There’s a whole new wing that includes Macy’s, Charming Charlie’s, Lego, Disney and more.  Plus their outlet stores are the best place to find a new favorite sweater or summer sun dress… and the best part is that you’ll be saving money!  Take a day to explore this place at your own leisure because believe me…. There’s no way you can cover all of these stores in just one day.

This is the year that you’ll look back on and remember how all of the memories that you made with friends and family and think… I wanna do it all again.  Sure, my bucket list might include climbing to a Tibetan temple to ask a wiseman one question… or traveling to the bottom of the ocean in a deep sea submersible (#science!)… but it also includes enjoying every free moment that I have, so let’s see what we can find in 2014 in Lake County.

Wherever the ride takes you, be sure to share your images on instagram, facebook and twitter with #VisitLakeCounty


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