101 Things to Do Under $10 in Lake County

Next weekend: Plan for fun compliments of Alexander Hamilton...

Updated March 6, 2023

 Alexander Hamilton in Lake County, IL

Who doesn’t love a bargain, especially when your wallet might be short of funds?

Alexander Hamilton, one of the genius U.S. founding fathers and the man on the front of the $10 bill, is the talk of the country for the last few years because of Lin Miranda Manuel's Tony Award-winning, 'Hamilton.' We thought it would be helpful to find a couple of inexpensive things to do around Lake County.

You've earned yourself some time to relax and unwind – so refrain from dipping into that emergency fund. All you need is a crisp (or balled up) $10 bill (it's all about the Hamiltons) for some good old fashioned fun.

Take advantage of the deals Lake County has to offer, even though you may be 'young, scrappy and hungry,' but 'you're not throwing away this shot.'

Whether you are going on a date, hanging out with friends or taking out the family, here are 101 things to do under $10 in Lake County.

Independence Grove in Libertyville
Independence Grove in Libertyville, IL

-  Take a scenic stroll through Lake County Forest Preserves and snap a few pictures to capture the beauty at locations like Independence Grove in Libertyville. Independence Grove Non-Resident Admission: $5-$12, other Lake County Forest Preserves Admission: Free.

-  "99 bottles of beer on the wall, 99 bottles of beer." Taste a variety of house-brewed flavors from Lake County Libation Trail partner Ravinia Brewing Co. in Highland Park. Beers: $7 and up. Select To-Go Six Packs $10 (plus Tax).

-  Frolic, swing, jump and climb at Bowen Park in Waukegan. Admission: Free.

-  Indulge yourself in sweet satisfaction by ordering a slice of dulce le leche with donut holes and vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce at Cadwell’s Grille located inside Embassy Suites Chicago-North Shore in Deerfield. Price: $8 (plus Tax).

-  Explore Cairo, Lake County...or Wadsworth, and see authentic Egyptian artifacts on a Gold Pyramid House tour. Admission: $10.

-  At the start of the weekend every month from March-December, explore the tastes, shopping and live tunes of First Fridays on MainStreet Libertyville. Admission: Free.

-  Make your reservations for international eats for tapas and sink your teeth into a delectable and authentic taco at La Casa de Samuel in Waukegan. Price: $3.95-$4.95 per taco (plus Tax).

-  Watch Lake County history come alive at the Grayslake Heritage Center in Downtown Grayslake. Admission: Free; $1-$3 Donations encouraged.

-  Let the Ride Take You throughout the land of lakes on our Road Trip Adventures on Route 21 & 45, Route 83, Route 41, Sheridan Road/Points North and All Points: Des Plaines River Trail. Gas Money, and, obviously, Road Trip Adventures have Different Price Points.

-  Holy moly, check out the sweets that can only be made by Tony Cannoli, the Illinois-made confectioner in Mundelein. Three-Cannoli Pastry Box: $6.25 (plus Tax).

-  Wet your whistle with a beer while watching the game at Illinois’ oldest bar and restaurant, The Village Tavern in Long Grove. Price: $2.50 per domestic draft beer selection (plus Tax).

-  Take a dip in beautiful Lake Michigan and bask in all of nature's ambiance at Illinois Beach State Park in Zion. Admission: Free.

-  Be awestruck as you take a tour of the Mother Rudd House and Museum, one of Lake County’s oldest structures. This haven for the Underground Railroad was built in 1841. Admission: Free.

-  Chomp down on some peanuts (throw them on the floor) and devour a basket of finger-lickin' good Bill's Wings at Bill's Pizza & Pub in Mundelein or Bill’s Pub North in Grayslake. Price: Ditka's Polis Sausage Sandwich & Fries $8.50 (plus Tax); Peanuts are free.

-  Village-hop aboard the Metra Rail for some land of lakes experiences on the Lake County Libation Trail: Price: $10 weekend pass.


-  Take a shuttle boat ride out to Blarney Island on Grass Lake in Antioch to witness Thursday Thunder on the Chain boat races throughout the summer. Price: $10 shuttle boat ride.

-  Feast on an extensive list of brunch and breakfast like a mouthwatering stack of flapjacks at the renowned Townee Square Restaurant in Libertyville. Price: Various dishes between $5.95-$9.95.

-  Spend a day shopping in over 70 exclusive shops at the open-air Deer Park Town Center. Window Shopping: Free.

Uniquely Sweet in Grayslake
Uniquely Sweet in Grayslake, IL

-  If you are looking for a spoon full of sugar to put some pep in your step, stop by Uniquely Sweet in Grayslake: Price: Buttercrunch Toffee: $9, Gourmet Turtle Sticks: from $5.25, Peanut Butter Potato Chip Bark: $7.95 and more.

-  Party like its 1776 with a plethora of pyrotechnics at Celebrate Fox Lake in late June/early July along the lakefront. Admission: Free.

-  Take a scenic saunter at North Point Marina along Lake MIchigan. Admission: Free.

-  From spring to fall, hit the mini links at the renowned Par-King Skill Golf for a hole in one spectacular in Lincolnshire. Price: $10 per person (cash only).

-  Gaze upon an array of art mediums at ArtWauk every third Saturday while walking down historic Genesee Street in Waukegan. Admission: Free.

-  Arrive curious and leave inspired at the Dunn Museum in Libertyville after meeting a dryptosaurus, a Lake County dino. Admission: Free-$10.

-  Catch a flick at Gurnee Mills, as the mall’s Marcus Theatre has discounted Tuesdays for movie buffs. Ticket Price: $5 on Tuesdays.

-  Besides their delicious drinks, Mickey Finn's in Libertyville provides top-notch entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights. Admission: Free.

-  Lake County has over 200 lakes and rivers for your pleasure, and Fish Lake Beach in Volo has plenty of activities perfect for you and the family under $10 from early June to early September. Price: $6 Per Person, kids ages three and under are free on weekdays only.

-  Take a day trip to Libertyville and experience the wonders of Lambs Farm open from April-October. Admission: $5, Miniature train ride $3.

-  Visit Waukegan to witness the tricks and flips of the incredible flying machines as the Northern Illinois Air Show returns. Admission: Free for vets and children 12 and under.

-  Get a glimpse of a bonafied relic as you visit and tour the Hiram Buttrick Sawmill in Antioch Admission: Free.

-  View the young talent of Illinois and Wisconsin perform new, old and original tunes on Fridays from May-July at the Bitter Jester Music Festival in Highland Park: Admission: Free.

Annual Nostalgia Days in Zion
Nostalgia Days in Zion, IL

-  Do you want to take a walk down memory lane? See the past revived in modern times in late June as Zion hosts its Annual Nostalgia Days featuring an antique custom car show, a carnival, live tunes, good eats and more. Admission: Free.

-  Witness the intricate architecture of the Shiloh House in Zion built in 1901. Bring your camera too to snap the memories. Admission: Free.

-  Have a meet and greet with some cold-blooded creatures at the Wildlife Discovery Center in Lake Forest. Admission: Free for individuals and related families of eight or less. Donations are encouraged.

-  Attend one of Long Grove’s famous festivals like Chocolate Fest, Strawberry Fest, Apple Fest, Irish Days or Vintage Days. Admission: Free-$5.

-  You and the fam may not understand the science behind building a structure, but you can for sure point out cool Lake County architectural gems. Take a journey around the land of lakes and check out  the inspiring buildings erected in our fair county. Admission: Free.

-  Stretch, bend, twist and breath at one of the yoga sessions that can be found at multiple Lake County Libation Trail partners. Price: Free.

Vipers Pro Basketball
Vipers Pro ABA Basketball calls Gurnee, IL home. They play in the fall and winter seasons at Warren Township High School in Gurnee. 

-  View live ABA hoops in Gurnee as Vipers Pro consists of semi-pro D-1 athletes, international players and local ballers with hops of moving to the NBA hardwood. Tickets: $5-$10

-  View all the fascinating natural activity by taking a tour of Illinois’ only remaining open-water quaking bog: National Natural Landmark Volo Bog State Natural Area in Ingleside. Admission: Free.

-  Travel the Lake County Libation Trail starting at Buffalo Creek Brewing in Long Grove for a 12-16 oz. draft and work your way North to the rest of these Lake County brewery, distillieries and wineries. Buffalo Creek Brewing 12-16 oz beer: $7-$8.

-  Watch Charles Dickens’ tales come alive in Downtown Antioch. The famed British author’s lifelike wax characters are displayed along the sidewalks of the town's Main Street between November-December. Price: Free.

-  View a mural skected on our favorite store, an installation that popped up, a statue with historical meaning, because the knack for art is fluent in the land of lakes street art and murals. Admission: Free

-  Find the freshest, locally-grown and deliciously ripe fruits and veggies of the season in one of Lake County’s community farmers markets. Admission: Entry is free; Fresh fruit and vegetable prices vary.

-  Embark on a treasure hunt and explore all of the filming locations of Dylan Kroll's song and video ‘Lake County: The Bounty of Illinois.’ Kroll was the winner of Visit Lake County's I Love Lake County Song Search in 2015. Price: Gas money.

-  Pick up a good book from Historic Downtown Long Grove, MainStreet Libertyville or Waukegan MainStreet book store and read it cover to cover on a peaceful Lake County Forest Preserve beach. Forest Preserve Admission: Mostly free.

-  Say cowabunga as you land an ollie in one of Lake County's skate park halfpipes: Warren Township Center Skate Park, Viking Park, Betty Russell Community Park and Churchill Hunt Park (Gurnee), Jewett Park Skate Park (Deerfield), Williams Park (Antioch), Daniel Barry Memorial Skate Park (Grayslake), Waukegan Skate Park and Sullivan Community Center. Admission: Free.

-  Tell a few cheesey jokes over some white cheese curds at the Lodge of Antioch. Price: $9.99 (plus Tax).

-  Take a selfie at the end of Amstutz Expressway in Waukegan before Batman disappears into the Bat Cave. Or you could try to escape Punxsutawney, PA like weatherman Phill Connors attempted to do in "Groundhog Day." The end of this expressway is where the 2005 film 'Batman Begins' was shot. Admission: Free.

Fort Sheridan Beach
Fort Sheridan Beach operated by Lake County Forest Preserves in Lake Forest, Highwood and Highland Park, IL taken by 2021 Outdoor #LetsSnapLakeCounty Photo Contest Winner Erika Hoffmann.

-  Explore Fort Sheridan Beach while you take a hike on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and U.S. National Landmark defunct army base in Lake Forest, Highwood and Highland Park. Admission: Free.

-  Make this Taco Tuesday your holiday at El Puerto Restaurant in Fox LakePrice: $2.95 per taco.

-  Journey to Ingleside’s Miller’s Dog ‘N Suds to taste their world famous root beer float, and one of Lake County's eldest eateriesPrice: $2.85-$5.59 (plus Tax).

-  From Monday-Saturday, visit the National Museum of the American Sailor and learn the storied history of our proud service men and women at sea. Anchors Aweigh! Admission: Free.

-  Listen to the exceptional sounds from local musicians during the summer at various Lake County bandshells: Brook Bandshell (Antioch), Viking Park Bandshell (Gurnee), Shiloh Park Bandshell (Zion), Stiner Pavilion (Waukegan), Arbor Theater (Vernon Hills), Grayslake Bandshell, James C. Mitchell Pavilion and Jewett Park (Deerfield) and various locations in Historic Downtown Long Grove. Admission: Free.

-  Bike, walk, blade, skate or run the Des Plaines River Trail Challenge that stretches a continuous 31.4 miles of uninterrupted Lake County trail. Price: Free.

Volo 4 Antique Malls in Volo, IL

-  Scour through myriad antiques, collectibles and other cool nuggets Volo 4 Antique Malls. Window Shopping: Free.

-  Visit a barista and sip on a cup of joe like Suzanne Vega . Multiple fare options under $10.

-  Check out an assortment of hot rods parked along MainStreet Libertyville at CarFun on 21 in from mid-May to mid-August. Admission: Free.  

-  Follow the stars in Mundelein as they take you on an artsy parade and celebration of local artists. Free viewing window shopping along the way.

-  Whatever your favorite activity on the ice may be, be sure to invite friends and family to create memories twirling, twizzling and triple lutzing on the Lake County frozen waters. Mostly Free.

-  Roam and scour through Gurnee Mills or Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills for some serious shopping. These malls contain over 350 various retailers combined. Window Shopping: Free.

-  Reminisce about one of Waukegan’s weirdest and most favorite author Ray Bradbury at the Greentown writer’s Dandelion Wine Fine Arts Festival in August. Admission: Free.

-  Catch an improv show or a stand-up belly laugher as Improv Playhouse in Libertyville hosts these type of productions twice a month. Admission in advance: $5-$10

-  Honor and salute those who gave their lives for the freedom of this country as Lake County hosts an array of Memorial Day Parades. Admission: Free.

-  Spice up your life with a sweet treat compliments of Chocolate Sanctuary’s Boutique. Price: Dessert, coffee and cappuccino $3-$12.

-  Staring fondly into the eyes of a constellation is a celestial sight. Make a wish upon a star in the land of lakes with one of these top five stargazing locations. Admission: Free.

-  Experience the local talent and musicianship as College of Lake County’s Wind Symphony, and Choir performs three-to-four concerts a year at the James Lumber Center for the Performing Arts. Ticket Price: $3-$5.

-  Sample various brews and take a hike at Independence Grove Forest Preserve's Craft Beer Garden sampling different trail stops on the Lake County Libation Trail. Free admission.

-  Stroll the streets of downtown Fox Lake during its Pelican Palooza for fantastic deals from participating shops. Maybe you'll catch a glimpse of that weird billed bird as they migrate to Fox Lake during late March and early April. Window Shopping: Free

-  In the winter time, there are 10+ free hills in Lake County for sledding and tubing fun. Price: Free.

-  Sink your teeth into eight ounces of Angus bliss on Tuesday Burger Days at Chessie’s in Barrington. The burger is served with homemade French fries and coleslaw. Price: $7.

-  Cool down during the summertime by taking a splash in Lincolnshire’s Spring Lake Beach. Admission: Free.

-  Do you have a sweetheart you’re looking to impress? A piece of candy from the Long Grove Confectionery Nut & Candy House in Wauconda may do the trick. Price: A variety of candy and nuts under $10.

Shakou Libertyville
Shakou Libertyville in Libertyville, IL

-  Gobble down delicious Japanese cuisine from Shakou Libertyville as they offer a piece of sushi or two paired with rice under $10. Price: starting at $6.

-  Enjoy browsing among dozens of oversized shadow boxes, depicting the fun and joy of Christmas at Kringle's Christmas Village Tour in Antioch. Admission: Free.

-  Are you searching for some cheap fare? Take the family out to dinner to O’Toole’s Gurnee. Small Bites: $6-$8.

-  Compete with some friends in a match of disc golf. There are many courses located throughout Lake County like Bevier Park (Waukegan), Keller/Sheppard Park (Deerfield), Adler Park (Libertyville), Tim Osmond Sports Complex (Antioch) and many more. Price: Free.

-  In late August, see the interesting colors and designs of the inflated canvases showcased at the Annual Grayslake Color Aloft Balloon Fest. Admission: Free.

-  Satisfy your soul with something sweet like a a delicious mini creampuff, Dobbish triangle or Napolean at Lovin Oven Cakery in Round Lake Beach. Price: $1.71 (plus Tax).

Food Truck Thursdays in Highland Park

Food Truck Thursdays in Highland Park

-  Explore Highland Park on select Thursdays for food trucks, bags, live tunes and chill vibes in its Ravinia District. Admission: Free entry. Fare price varies.

-  Head to Saluto’s in Gurnee and chomp down on a 8" thin crust pizza for lunch or dinner. Price: $10 (plus Tax).

-  Delightful bites complement the exceptional artwork at the late-summer Annual Lincolnshire Arts Festival. Admission: Free.

-  In the words of Bill Shakespeare, "For a quart of Ale is a dish for a king." Bosacki's Brewery is a great drinking hole for all beer enthusiasts.  Price: Many beer options under $10.

-  The land of lakes where is where memories are made. Visit the Lake County Fairgrounds and Event Center, where for nearly a century the Lake County Fair is where you can ride a few rides, see a demolition derby, listen to live music, chill with the livestock, explore the motocross and so much more in the late summertime. Price: Starting at $5.

Ryerson Woods
Edward L. Ryerson Conservation Area in Riverwoods, IL (Photo Credit: The Chicago Tribune)

-  During March, treat yourself to the sweet sap and sugar maples on a one-hour hike at Ryerson Woods. On this trek, you will learn everything there is to know about how the maple trees supply that sticky substance that covers your pancakes, waffles and French toast. Admission: $6.

-  Receive a taste of the Native American heritage to heighten awareness of their history at the annual Potawatomi Trails Pow Wow at Zion’s Shiloh Park in late August. Admission: $2-8.

-  Travel to Deerfield to see Lake County's eldest structure, the Caspar Ott Log Cabin. Admission: Free.

-  "Im gonna pop some tags, I got $20 in my pocket," Shop at Reclaimed Artisans Inc., in Libertyville for a few treasures to decorate your lair. Several items under $10

-  Visit the home on the range as the Magnolia Cafe offers exciting eats and souvenirs for children and adults alike..Many items under $10.

-  Take 10 Days to Savor divine eats during Lake County’s Restaurant Week in early April where over 70 restaurants offer prix fixe menus and special offers on delectable dishes. Prices: Dining options under $10 at various restaurants.

-  Uncork and unwind at Vigneto del Bino Vineyard & Winery’s Tasting Room and Gift Shop. Tasting Rates: $5 for four tastings, $7 for six tastings.

Waukegan Beach

Waukegan Municipal Beach in Waukegan

-  "Everybody's goin' surfin'. Surfin' Wau-ke-gan." Imitate your best Beach Boy at the Waukegan Municipal Beach as you kick back, relax and unwind. Parking is $10 for non-Waukegan residentsAdmission: Free Entry. Pedestrian and cyclist entry free.

-  Take a snap of something hosted in Lake County for the #LetsSnapLakeCounty Photo Contest, and have a chance to win wonderful prizes from Labor Day till Halloween. Admission Free, Win Cash Prizes.

-  Get into the new trend of pickleball - basically tennis and ping pong wrapped in a neat little packages in various Lake County locations. Admission: Mostly Free.

-  Four days of summer fun in mid-August bring live entertainment, farmers markets, a 10K race, rib fest, petting zoo and much more at the annual Gurnee Days. Admission: Free.

-  Are you looking to take a journey with Ziggy Stardust or are you in searching the sky for Lucy with diamonds? Join Skokie Valley Astronomers to explore the final frontier at Ryerson Woods. Admission: Free.

-  Choose from a collection of talented food vendors and head 'Out to Lunch' while listening to live music at Cook Park in Libertyville throughout the summer. Admission: Free. Food Prices: Vary.

-  Observe some of the best boats and outdoor items on the market at the Northern Illinois Sport Show at the Lake County Fairgrounds in early March: Admission: $5-$7.

 Saunter through Downtown Mundelein over the summer and see a stellar collection of over 400 pre-1977 classic vehicles at Park on Park Cruise Night. Admission: Free. 

-  Visit Lake Zurich's booming drinking scene as Lake County Libation Trail partners Roaring Tabley Brewery, Copper Fiddle Distillery and Phase Three Brewing Co. all call the village home. Admission: Free. Several drinks under $10.

- Figure 8 your way around Gurnee Mills' Top Shelf Ice Arena for some killer ice dance moves. Ticket Price: $6-$20

For more things to do in Lake County, continue here. 

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