Things to Do in Evanston, Illinois

February 28, 2023

things to do in evanston

Conveniently located just north of Chicago, Evanston combines the charms of a small town with all of the conveniences of a big city. It offers a bustling downtown, a vibrant cultural scene and an eclectic mix of intriguing shops and galleries.

It is also renowned for its progressive politics and is home to Northwestern University, one of the best institutions of higher learning in the country. The main campus merits a visit for its excellent art museum, but there are many other things to see in this leafy North Shore city.

History Center

The History Center collects, preserves and interprets the rich history of Evanston through museum tours, exhibits, educational programs, community events and research facilities. Headquartered in the National Historic Landmark Charles Gates Dawes House, EHC is a private, not-for-profit institution founded in 1898.

Guests can explore the historic house through lively docent-led walking tours and enjoy a variety of special exhibitions. Located on two acres overlooking Lake Michigan, this Chateauesque mansion was the home of former U.S. Vice President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Charles Gates Dawes.

In addition to the historic Dawes House, the History Center houses an extensive collection of artifacts and antique furnishings. The organization offers a number of exhibits and lectures throughout the year.

In February, the library hosted several Black History Month events, including an indoor scavenger hunt that highlighted historical landmarks in the city. In concert with the Shorefront Legacy Center, which collects and educates about Black historical figures and culture in Chicago’s North Shore, the scavenger hunt was a fun way to bring together residents of all backgrounds to learn about Evanston’s rich Black history.

Mitchell Museum of the American Indian

One of only a handful of museums across the country that focus exclusively on the art, history and culture of Native American peoples from throughout the United States and Canada, the Mitchell Museum is committed to the collection, preservation and interpretation of traditional and contemporary Native art and material culture.

Visitors are introduced to the cultures of indigenous North American people through permanent and temporary exhibits depicting various Native American cultures, from the Paleo-Indian period to present day. Objects on view include archeological and ethnographic materials, as well as art pieces.

There are permanent galleries that explore the cultures of the Woodlands, Plains, Northwest Coast and Arctic regions, as well as a special exhibit gallery that changes two times a year. The Museum also offers docent led tours for groups of 5 to 30.

Grosse Point Lighthouse

Located off of a secluded beach, the Grosse Point Lighthouse is one of Evanston's most stunning landmarks. The beautiful structure was built in 1873 to mark the approach of Chicago's harbor from Lake Michigan, and it is now a National Historic Landmark.

For many, Evanston is a city synonymous with diversity and progressive politics. It's also the home to Northwestern University, one of the top universities in the country.

Visitors can explore its leafy North Shore and check out its many low-rise shopping districts. The most popular area to explore is Main Street and Dempster, rolled together as the "Main-Dempster Mile." Independent businesses here sell ethical fashion, Belgian chocolate, fabrics, pet products, hemp/CBD goods, grain to glass liquor, vintage jewelry and more.

During the 19th century, shipping lanes along Lake Michigan became increasingly crowded, and shipwrecks plagued the waters near Grosse Point, including a tragedy in 1860 that killed nearly 300 people. Federal support for the construction of a lighthouse was secured after citizens in the area pushed for it to be built.

Lucky Platter

If you’re looking for a fun, quirky, and inventive diner, then The Lucky Platter is the place for you. This Evanston establishment has been around since 1991, and you can expect to find a variety of dishes on the menu that will surprise and delight.

Breakfast and lunch are served seven days a week, and the dinner menu is also very popular. You can order items like apple ricotta blintzes, fried green tomatoes, and Tandoori salmon salad.

This Evanston spot also has a full bar, so you can get a beer or cocktail to go with your meal. There’s even a selection of Kombucha on draft!

The Lucky Platter is always busy, but the food is top-notch. The restaurant is a favorite among Evanston residents and it offers a cozy atmosphere. The staff is very friendly and attentive, and it’s a great place for families and groups to meet.

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