Top 10 Things To Do in January 2021

The holiday season is all about over, but the top 10 things to do in January will keep you energized this winter in Lake County.

January features Lake County’s cuisine makers and libation creators, playtime in the snow, a flick, a show, a cabaret, angling and a rekindling with nature in a land of lakes winter wonderland.


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Hopefully, with the start of 2021, the vaccine is expeditiously so we can return to some sort of normalcy. Let’s continue to get through this public health crisis together by practicing social distancing, mask-wearing and staying at home when feeling under the weather.

Without further adieu here are your top 10 things to do in January in the land of lakes.

1. Lake County is Illuminated Post Holiday Season (through January 18)

“Turn up the lights in here, baby. Extra bright, I want y’all to see this. Turn up the lights in here, baby. You know what I need, want you to see everything want you to see all of the lights.” – Rihanna. There is no way around it, Lake County is lit. From public light displays to motion twinkling shows to village and city Christmas tree and menorah lightings, Lake County illuminates the night through the holiday season. Meander through a shiny land of lakes world and don’t forget to snap a memory before time runs out in this extended version of an illuminated land of lakes.

  • Holiday Lights Walk Thru at Lehmann Park (through Jan. 10) INFO»
  • Santa’s Rock N Lights at Lake County Fairgrounds (through Jan. 10) INFO»
  • Lake Forest Lights Up the Parks (through Jan. 10 INFO»
  • Holiday in the Park Drive-Thru Experience at Six Flags Great America (select days through Jan. 18) INFO»

2. Eat Lake County Local via Carryout, Takeout or Outside Dining (Year-round)


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With infection positivity rates still high in Illinois,  Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health suspend indoor service at bars and restaurants in Lake County. However, you can still eat, drink and support local via curbside pickup, carry out, picking up gift cards or braving the chill and eating/sipping outdoors. Support your local cuisine and Lake County Libation Trail makers as they will still serve the high-class fare and drinkables you know and love.

3. Sleigh While Sledding in Lake County (All Season Long)

“Feel the Rhythm! Feel the Rhyme! Get on up, it’s bobsled time! Cool Runnings!” You can’t be the only one having a blast in the snow. Once the snow hits the ground, kids (and children at heart) gravitate towards any hill that has a slight incline to race their friends and family. It’s that time of year to inflate that inner tube or dust off that sled and zip through the snow. Here is a comprehensive guide to sledding in the land of lakes.

4. Drink in a Lake County Libation Trail Wonderland (All Season Long)

Cheers to the Lake County Libation Trail for helping us through the entire stay-at home order and beyond. 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. Many are providing libation aficionados the option to carry out or receive curbside pickup with their beverage and fare options. However, some are still open. Experience a land of lakes winter with a cold (or hot) one in the backyard of these trail participants’ facilities. We’ve listed the venues that are providing outdoor drinking and dining. Drink Lake County local!

  • Bosacki’s Brewery in Mundelein INFO»
  • Buffalo Creek Brewing Co.’s Alpine Biergarten in Long Grove INFO»
  • Copper Fiddle Distillery in Lake Zurich INFO»
  • Half Day Brewing Co. in Lincolnshire (also celebrating their birthday January 11-17) INFO»
  • Harbor Brewing Co. Lakefront Biergarten in Winthrop Harbor at North Point Marina INFO»
  • Light the Lamp Brewery in Grayslake INFO»
  • Lynfred Winery in Wheeling INFO»
  • Mickey Finn’s Brewery in Libertyville INFO»
  • Nightshade and Dark’s Pandemonium Brewing in Waukegan/Oppidan Spirits INFO»
  • Only Child Brewing in Gurnee INFO»
  • Ravinia Brewing Co. in Highland Park INFO»
  • Side Lot Brewery in Wauconda INFO»
  • Tighthead Brewing Co. in Mundelein INFO»
  • ZümBier in Waukegan INFO»

Wild Onion Brewing, North Shore Distillery, Glunz Family Winery and Cellars, Valentino Vineyards are still open for carryout. Vigneto del Bino Winery, Wright’s Brew & Bistro and 28 Mile Distillery are closed for the foreseeable future.

5. Chicago Area Boat Show and Sale in Fox Lake (January 8-10)


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“Ride captain ride upon your mystery ship. On your way to a world that others might have missed,” by Blues Image. Sure, winter just began, but it doesn’t mean you can’t dream and explore options for next nautical season. It creeps up fast. That’s why Munson Marine in Fox Lake is hosting the Chicago Area Boat Show. The free admission event provides boaters and so to be captains an opportunity to view and purchase over 100+ new and used vessels like pontoons, motor boats, bowriders, cutty cabins, wakeboards, accessories, trailers and more.  The Fox Lake show is chock-full of specials, incentives and rebates. Social distancing and mask-wearing guidelines must be practiced by potential boat buyers.

6. Self Guided Woods Walk at Chicago Botanic Garden (Sundays January 10-February 28)

“It’s a beautiful sight, we’re happy tonight. Walking in a botanic wonderland.” For the next two months, experience the scenic winter world of Chicago Botanic as they invite visitors to McDonald Woods for a self-guided stroll. From 11 a.m.-2 p.m., saunterers can set out into the wild, learn about winter woodland flora and roast chestnuts by an open fire at the McDonald Woods shelter. If winds exceend 20 mph, the program will be canceled. The event is free, but there is a parking fee. The walk runs Sundays through February 28.

7. Tours at Tempel Lipizzans in Old Mill Creek (January 9 & 23)


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“The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of Lipizzans danced in their heads.” Unfortunately, we can’t physically visit the farm because of COVID-10 protocols. However, Equine lovers will gather at the Old Mill Creek farm’s virtual site to receive a tour of the mares, foals, stallions and training sessions on the internet highway. You may even be able to view the stallions cutting a rug. Esther Buonanno, the program director and granddaughter of the founder will narrate and guide you through their airs above the ground movements,  and welcome viewers to a Q&A following the tour. The tour dates are January 9 and 23, and require a $10 reservation via Zoom.

8. ***CANCELED*** Friday Flicks presents “Jumanji” by the Mundelein Park District (January 15)

“In the jungle you must wait, ’til the dice read five or eight.” It’s your time to open up that fickle board game and exclaim “Jumanji!” Take the whole family and sit in a land of lakes winter outdoor movie featuring activities and contests to engage the family. Most importantly, it will get you and those chitlins out of the house. Families will receive complimentary snack packs. Youngsters ages 10 and older can attend on their own, but must be signed in and out. Children ages two and under receive free entry. Registration must be made online. Watch out for those pesky monkeys.

8. Skate with Elsa at Community Park in Mundelein


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Kristoff of the Disney hit movie “Frozen” and “Frozen 2” says it best, “Ice is my life!” Kids ages three and older are invited to join Elsa under the twinkling lights at the Mundelein Community Rink. The Arendelle ice queen will be in attendance to sing your favorite “Frozen songs.” The event is also highlighted by hot cocoa to keep you warm, a snowflake craft making, “Frozen” photo opportunities and a raffle for a free porch party. Register in advance online for the one-hour event. Dress warm and follow COVID-19 guidelines by social distancing and wearing a mask. “The cold never bothered us anyways!”

9. LVVA Ice Fishing Derby in Wauconda (January 29-31)

Get your ice fishing on Lake County. There are two angler events with a lot of longevity and history to fulfill your snow fishing expeditions. The first is the LVVA Ice Fishing Derby in Wauconda and the second is the Chain O’Lakes Fishing Derby and Winter Festival (Feb. 14-16). Pack up your lines, hooks and spears, and go for the gold trying to nab some fresh pike, crappie, perch and bluegill that the Bangs Lake has to offer. With the pandemic going on, the Wauconda derby has moved to a virtual event. Cash and prizes will be rewarded to anglers in big and small fish catch category. Let’s take a look at our derby days.

10. Genesee Street Cabaret Presents Under the Streetlamp in Waukegan (January 30)

We are thirsty for live entertainment during this pandemic. The storied Waukegan theatre takes a socially-distanced approach with their Genesee Street Cabarets. This month, they feature Under the Streetlamp. The talented quartet delivers a nostalgic evening of American standards and classic hits performed by leading former cast members of the Tony Award-winning musical, “Jersey Boys!” Don’t miss an evening of all of your favorite tunes from different genres ranging from doo-wop, Motown, rock n’ roll and more at the historic Genesee Theatre in downtown Waukegan.


For more top things to do in January 2021, continue here. Click here to see all of things you could do while we ride out this pandemic out.

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