Labor Day Weekend in Lake County 2021

Hooray for Labor Day weekend in Lake County: everyone’s favorite Monday of the year! Here’s a little bit of history behind the national “take it easy” day. 

The inception of the Labor Day idea was in 1885. The first state to introduce the bill was New York, but Oregon passed it first on February 21, 1887. The emphasis of this holiday was strongly insisted on by labor unions. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America Co-founder Peter J. McGuire is the father of the effort.

To end the Pullman Strike in 1894 (which was a nationwide strike against the Pullman Palace railroad car manufacturers and a turning point in labor law that initially started in Chicago), President Grover Cleveland made it official and made designated Labor Day as everyone’s favorite Monday off of the year.

For providing us with a break, say cheers to Mr. McGuire by taking a walk down Lake County’s Libation Trail.

We’re in this rat race spinning and spinning, trying to grab that hunk of cheese. Let’s all kick back and relax on this extended time off and see what’s going on for Labor Day weekend in Lake County.

Thunder on the Chain at Blarney Island (September 2)

The Chain O’Lakes is far from placid on Thursday nights during the summer. Take your own vessel out or take the ferry from Port of Blarney to Blarney Island. Thunder on the Chain features the unique world of drag boat racing from June-September hosted by Blarney Island on Grass Lake. If you have the need for speed on a “school night,” witness these fearless racers competing in nine different classes from the Northern Illinois Drag Boat Association as they sprint for the gold. Thunder on the Chain fields races through September 3. Blarney Island throws a party all weekend, starting with the boat races.

First Fridays on MainStreet Libertyville (September 3)

Invest your fest feels on a festive festival-infested Friday through Sunday in Libertyville. The weekend kicks off with its normal First Fridays on MainStreet Libertyville highlighted by various delectable drinks, mouth-watering eats, live entertainment and more as visitors peruse through local mom and pop shops offering promotional sales.

Hurricane Harbor Chicago in Gurnee (through September 6)

Take a dip in the drink, and experience the thrills at Hurricane Harbor before it’s too late. The H2O haven is equipped with over 25 rides, waterslides and attractions like waterslides, a main swimming area called Monsoon Lagoon, a kid zone play area that utterly soaks individuals, an interactive surf area and so much more. Joining the ranks at Hurricane Harbor Chicago and Six Flags Great America is Tsunami Surge. The aforementioned slide is the soon-to-be world’s tallest water coaster. Hurricane Harbor Chicago is open through September 6.

Beaches in Lake County (Various Close Dates)

The land of lakes is home to over 200 lakes and miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, which means the beaches are abundant. Searching for an adventure in one of the Great Lakes? Illinois Beach State Park in Zion or Waukegan Municipal Beach is your destination. Taking your little guppies for a more youngster-friendly environment? Lake Zurich’s Paulus Park Beach has lifeguards and a water playground. So take a dip and cool yourself off this summer along one of Lake County’s relaxing shores. So kick back and relax, and remember, life’s a beach!

Butterflies & Blooms Exhibit at Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe (through September 6)


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Witness the majesty and beauty of the Swallowtail, Lycaenidae, Nymphalidae, Skipperling and as many as 500 other colorful butterflies and blooms at Chicago Botanic Garden. The Butterflies & Blooms exhibition highlights species that are native to Africa, Asia, North America and South America. The butterflies are housed in a 2,800-square-foot mesh enclosure on the Regenstein Learning Campus. Visitors can view the cocooned caterpillars make their transformation into butterflies through a window located inside the pupa emergence room. The exhibit is open daily through September 6 (weather permitting).

Beer Garden at Independence Grove in Libertyville (Closes TBA)


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Summer has a flavor like no other, and so do the local suds at the Beer Garden at Independence Grove Forest Preserve. Experience this Lake County Forest Preserve District’s beer flights for sippers ages 21 and older while viewing the area’s natural beauty. The beer garden’s Mile 15 Hazy & Lazy created by Waukegan Lake County Libation Trail partner ZümBier Brewery and the Lake County Forest Preserves is the featured adult beverage this summer in its inception year. The New England India Pale Ale dons its name from Independence Grove’s hiking and biking location along the Des Plaines River Trail. The Libertyville forest preserve encourages libationers to find marker 15 on the aforementioned Illinois-Wisconsin trail and snap a photo with the brew. Besides the Waukeganite “liquid courage,” the beer garden is also highlighted by Lake County Libation Trail partners Mickey Finn’s Brewery in LibertyvilleTighthead Brewery in MundeleinHalf Day Brewing in LincolnshireBuffalo Creek Brewing in Long GroveRavinia Brewing Co. in Highland ParkLight the Lamp Brewery in GrayslakeBlack Lung Brewing Co. in Round Lake Beach and Roaring Table Brewing Co. in Lake Zurich. The Beer Garden also offers non-alcoholic beverages and snacks. The Independence Grove Forest Preserve entity is open on weekends and Tuesday nights for its summer series called Concerts in the Plaza.

Summer Camp-in at Great Wolf Lodge Illinois in Gurnee


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Ahhhwooooo! The wolf has risen. Your little slip and sliders can have some summer fun in the Northwoods-themed park and accommodation. Whatever the temperature may be outside, it’s always a comfortable 84 degrees in the Gurnee resort. Your woodsy adventure starts and ends with the 80,000 square foot facility with water slides, a river to be lazy on, a wave pool, a kiddie area and so much more. Great Wolf Lodge is also highlighted by mini-golf, an arcade, a bowling alley, fun and games with Wolf characters and so much more. Venture to the Gurnee facility for a fam glamping experience. Mosquitos aren’t invited.

Mini Golf in Lake County 


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Hit the links in Lake County…on a far smaller course. It’s all in the hips. Make your tee times for some of the most unusual, scenic, difficult and competitive outings at two of Lake County’s best miniature golf courses. Before you hit the big boy golf courses, work on the short game at these two locations:

  • Par-King Skill Golf in Lincolnshire INFO»
  • Kristof’s Entertainment Center in Round Lake Beach INFO»
  • Great Wolf Lodge in Great Wolf Lodge Illinois in Gurnee INFO»

Extreme Flight Simulation in Gurnee

Every time a bell rings, a prospective pilot gets their wings. Extreme Flight Simulations (figuratively) provides individuals with frequent flyer miles in the Gurnee facility’s airplane simulator. Take off, coast and land as this soaring simulator accurately reproduces the flight deck of the 737 NG. The aerodynamic attraction is open to the public, and no flight experience is needed. 

Hike or Bike in Lake County


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No matter the season, we enjoy the fruits of what Mother Nature gave us in Lake County: The tall trees, the winding trails, the serene bodies of waters, the creatures and critters and the picturesque plant life. Lake County provides outdoor escapes from the shelter in place with an up close and personal live-action Claude Monet portraits. Hey Lake County, take a hike (or bike).

Lambs Farm in Libertyville


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Old Lake County had a farm E-I-E-I-O. The Libertyville/Green Oaks farmyard is highlighted by a petting area with sheep, goats and a plethora of other livestock creatures to meet and greet, various attractions like miniature golf, an old-world carousel and more. Visit the homestead’s Dogwood Pet Shop, Magnolia Café & Bakery and the Sugar Maple Country Store for delectable treats, unique treasures, adorable puppies and kittens. The Libertyville grounds’ businesses benefit programs for individuals with developmental disabilities. Lambs Farm is also celebrating its 60th born day in September.

Bee Gees Gold the Tribute at Genesee Theatre in Waukegan


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Find out “How Deep is Your Love” for Saturday Night Fever as Bee Gees Gold: The Tribute graces the Genesee Theatre stage in Waukegan. John Acosta as Barry Gibb has performed in Bee Gees Tributes all over the world. His portrayal of lead singer Barry Gibb is with a zest for detail, like no other. From the look to the falsetto you will close your eyes and say its Barry and his brothers as the group accompanied with Daryll Borges as Robin Gibb and Jeff Celentano as Maurice Gibb.

Ravinia Festival Shows in Highland Park

Summer’s marquee event is nearing its end. North America’s longest-running outdoor festival is featuring a plethora of humongous acts. Pack some snacks and sun hats and head out to Ravinia Festival. The Highland Park staple features an array of fantastic acts for “lazy day” weekend.

  • Lady A: What a Song Can Do Tour INFO»
  • The Roots INFO»
  • John Legend and The War and Treaty INFO»

WhirlyBall in Vernon Hills (Open Year-round)


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Bump, collide and compete against your friends in the unique bumper car sport WhirlyBall. Everyone’s favorite lacrosse/basketball/bumper car fusion game is the perfect place for summer fun. The play place also has a little something for adults in the libation department. Besides delectable eats, WhirlyBall has a vast selection of brews while the youngsters duke it out (or you join in on the fun). You can also have a sci-fi expedition as you and the kids zap either in laser tag.

Golfing in Lake County


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In our area, Lake County has 46 scenic courses with pristine wall-to-wall fairways. With the beauty, complexity and elaborate terrain, Golf Courses in Lake County have hosted some of the most extraordinary talents in the PGA and LPGA. Get out there and hit the links before the weather starts going south.

Bitter Jester Music Festival in Highland Park

It’s the best of the best performing. In Bitter Jester Festival’s 15th installment of the young musician event, the Highland Park concert Grand Finale sets the stage at Wolters Field. Some of the featured bands and performers include Adem Dalipi Band, Fluctuation, Petoria, Quick and Painless, Quite Frankly the Band, Scorched Waves, Summer Drive and Verganza. The Grand Prize winner will take home $1000, the runner up notches a bag of $7550 and $500 for the third place honorable mention. These musicians are traveling to the land of lakes from five different states to show off their talent.

Festival Fiestas Patrias en Mundelein (September 3-6)

¡Feliz dia de la Independencia Mexicana en Mundelein! This four-day festival s celebrates Mexican Independence Day. The event features four live bands, a kid-zone full of activities, delicious Mexican cuisine, a carnival, colorful garb, mariachi bands, a talent show and a parade. Attendees will receive a visit from dignitaries of the Mexican Consulate in Chicago.

Long Grove Irish Days (September 4-6)


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Ready to celebrate Long Grove’s Irish Days, American-style? Join Long Grove as they celebrate heritage by featuring authentic Irish cuisine, traditional Irish brews, live entertainment that features musicians and dancers, the men’s kilt contest, bagpipers, a best-dressed dog competition, kiddie festivities and more. Everyone loves St. Paddy’s Day in September.

Bristol Renaissance Faire just North of Lake County (through September 6)

Even if you don’t own a DeLorean, you can take a trip back to the past to experience the 16th-century English Elizabethan era just over the Wisconsin border. The renowned Bristol Renaissance Faire in Kenosha features sword fighters, maidens, minstrels and jesters. There are many photo opportunities for having the chance to meet and greet with legendary celebrities such as Queen Elizabeth and Robin Hood. The Faire also offers games, rides, arts and crafts, eats, live music and one-of-a-kind encounters with a spectacular cast of characters. Bristol, like many of the other festivities, makes its most triumphant return after a 2020 hiatus.

Camping in Lake County (through October)


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My wish is to stay always like this, living quietly in a corner of nature” – Claude Monet. Camping season is officially opened starting in May. Lake County may have few spots to camp, but boy, are they mighty. Visit these two locations in the land of lakes where the deer and the antelope. The two campsites remain open through October.

  • Illinois Beach State Park in Zion INFO»
  • Fish Lake Beach in Volo INFO»
  • Chain O’Lakes State Park in Antioch INFO»

Model Railroad Garden “Landmarks of America” at Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe (through October 10)

Chicago Bo is also highlighted by the 7,500-foot Model Railroad Garden. The choo choo world features rains running on 1,600 feet of track. The garden-scale trains are 1/29th the size of life-size trains. Train and garden enthusiasts, young and old, return year after year for the delightful sights and sounds of the miniature trains traversing high and low through tunnels, across bridges, and around buildings. All are intricately handcrafted with natural materials, including twigs, bark, leaves, acorns, and pebbles. More than 5,000 tiny trees, shrubs, ground covers, and flowering plants of close to 300 varieties re-create the topographical landscape of America. Vignettes of small people and animals give the exhibit a storybook feel, while sound effects and a working geyser capture visitors’ imaginations. The train garden is open through October 11. Face coverings are required for anyone ages two years and older, and six-foot social distancing is encouraged.

Fishing in Lake County (Year-round)


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Cast your hook, line and sinker as you try to nab a fresh fish. You have the OP-PERCH-TUNA-ty to ex-SALMON the waters and reel in the catch of the day. There are a ton of places with over 170 bodies of water to angle with the best of them.

Highlights Performance at Tempel Lipizzans (September 5)


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The famous white stallions of Old Mill Creek have entertained audiences for six decades with their flying horse movements, four-horse ballet and other historical nuggets. The Tempel Lipizzans have been an enchanting fixture in Lake County for 60 years. The program includes a tribute to the Olympic sport of equestrian showcasing dressage and performance of the maneuvers of Middle Ages battle techniques utilized by soldiers of yesteryear. The steeds will run through its five-segment routine that includes the Quadrille. The aforementioned movement demonstrates the classical dressage technique and the distinguished level of communication between trainer and horse. In addition to the stallion ballet, equestrian aficionados can explore the bond between mares and their babies as the Lake County farm hosts their Foals Presentation. Tickets can be purchased at

Six Flags Great America in Gurnee (through September 11)

Splash, scream and soar your way into summer with an exhilarating experience at Six Flags Great America! The Gurnee amusement park features 17 roller coasters, amazing live shows, fireworks, delicious dining options, 11-themed areas with other fantastic rides and tons more of excitement. lso almost a half-decade ago Goliath, this coaster came into the hearts of everyone. the Guinness Book of World Records officially named Goliath as the world’s steepest, fastest and tallest wooden roller coaster. Since then, it still stands as the steepest wooden coaster. Glide down the globe’s longest wooden coaster drop, Goliath, blast through the park with Maxx Force’s record-breaking launch, sprinting from 0-78 mph in under two seconds, take a spin on the world’s largest looping ride, Mardi Gras Hangover. Head to the proper version of the Looney Tunes and D.C. Comics amusement park before it turns into a spooky town.

Blarney Island in Antioch (through September 27)

Blarney Island is the premier summer party located a mile offshore on the Chain O’Lakes. The unique Antioch bar hosts events, fests, live entertainment, Thunder on the Chain and many others. Take the Blarney shuttle boat out from Port of Blarney, and in just a few minutes, you will be living on island time. Blarney Island is open from May through September. The Antioch island isn’t just a weekend destination. Thursday’s Thunder on the Chain Drag Races is a must-see event! Blarney Island remains open through Labor Day.

Lake County Libation Trail  (Year-round)


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“In wine there is wisdom, in beer, there is freedom, in water there is bacteria,” said U.S. Founding Father and esteemed libation consumer Benjamin Franklin. The Lake County Libation Trail enables adult beverage aficionados to sip the night away at one of our breweries, wineries and distilleries. From beer and wine to vodka and whiskey, our locally grown, crafted and distilled adult beverages are designed to dazzle and educate the most discerning tastes. More than 20+ stops to enjoy for tours, tastings and specialty cocktails.

Museums in Lake County

From nuggets about the Greentown griot, learn the history of Grayslake, the men and women who sing anchors aweigh to the critters that inhabit Lake County, and the roadsters in our favorite Hollywood flicks and more. Get some education and culture into your youngsters while they are on summer break.

  • Waukegan History Museum INFO»
  • Volo Museum INFO»
  • Wildlife Discover Center in Lake Forest INFO»
  • Bess Bower Dunn Museum of Lake County in Libertyville INFO»
  • Grayslake Heritage Museum & Center INFO»
  • Ray Bradbury Experience Museum in Waukegan (Open Periodically. Call for hours). INFO»
  • National Museum of the American Sailor at Naval Station Great Lakes  INFO»
  • Brushwood Center at Ryerson Conservation INFO»

Nashwood Festival in Highwood

Can’t make it to Tennessee this year? The City of Highwood has your taste of Nashville with their Nashwood festival. The three-day festival transforms into the Southern state’s music city venue featuring performers at 28 Mile Distilling, Pazzo di Vino of the Lake County Libation Trail, Slyce Coal Fired Pizza, Scotty’s on Sheridan and a ton of other venues. Get that Southern comfort from the country, bluegrass and Southern rock tunes, while also gobbling up Southern-inspired eats and libations throughout Labor Day weekend.

Other Labor Day Weekend Happenings


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  • Trivia at  Zümbier in Waukegan INFO»
  • Night Out for Nature at Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods INFO»
  • Twilight Shuffle 5K in Libertyville INFO»
  • Red White & Dock Party at North Point Marina INFO»
  • The Porch Tour Ft. Nick Norman & Lewis Brice at North Point Marina INFO»
  • Park Place Picnic in the Park in Waukegan INFO»
  • Lucky Burger and Grill Food Truck of Mundelein at Tighthead Brewing Co. INFO»
  • Dueling Pianos in the Parlor Speakeasy at Primo Italian American Cuisine INFO»
  • Pop in and Play Family Activities at the Chicago Botanic Gardens INFO»
  • Critters Wild and Tame – The Art of John Plishka at Volo Bog State Natural Area INFO»

For more things to do on Labor Day weekend, continue here.

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