Lake County Road Trips - Route 41

"Where the days are longer, the nights are stronger than moonshine..."

Libation TrailA scenic backdrop of Lake Michigan complements nature, history, an eclectic arts scene and great eats. Let's Go, take a ride!

Route 41 is highlighted by miles of trails for hiking, biking, running and exploring as well as a nautical on the Great Lake. After a road trip journey, visitors can indulge in craft brews along the Lake County Libation Trail. This itinerary is equipped with a forest preserve, an Illinois state park, two harbors, the country's lone Navy boot camp facility and a defunct military base, all showcasing breathtaking views. Birders can rejoice as over 300 species make their residency in the land of lakes. 

You can even 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. Travel along the coast of Lake Michigan where it's "cooler than a polar bear's toenails."

Day 1:

History is rich in Lake County, and so are the memory makers you can create. Rise with the sun  from your rested stay at Illinois Beach Hotel or The Inn on Sheridan. The Sheridan Road hotel is an independent boutique hotel that offers beautiful comfy accommodations in the heart of downtown Zion. It’s only blocks from the Lake Michigan shore and Metra Rail service. Grab a cup of joe at Callie's Coffeehouse & Boutique for unique items and the perfect sip of ice java, or order a bite to eat at Bailey's Corner Pub for exceptional bites and delicious cocktails. Also in Zion, the Illinois Beach Hotel is located along the shores of Lake Michigan offering stunning views of the body of water and the surrounding state park. The 92 guest room and suit facility have been recently renovated with a locally-sourced fare restaurant called Nolan's. The Illinois Beach Hotel is the only accommodation resting steps away from the Great Lake. 

Explore northeastern Lake County at one of Lake County's two state parks - Illinois Beach State Park. Known for its dunes, walking trails and birdwatching, you could spend several hours building sandcastles and soaking in vitamin D. The 4,160-acre park offers ample outdoor activities, including swimming, boating, picnicking, hiking, fishing and camping. Then head north to Harbor Brewing Co.'s Lakefront Biergarten and quench your thirst. This Lake County Libation Trail partner is a highlight of one of our many micro-breweries.

Waukegan HarborTake a car ride with nostalgia—homes of yesteryear, accompanied by discovering public art displays along Lake Michigan on Sheridan Road. On the map is the City of Waukegan, with majestic Waukegan Harbor & Marina for scenic strolls, fishing, or just chill on the beach. The downtown area is an ode to artistic vibes, historic buildings and Waukegan's son, Pulitzer Prize-winning Ray Bradbury. In the heart of the downtown business district, is the authentic Mexican, taste bud-pleasing, food at La Casa de Samuel. All dishes are served with handmade corn tortillas fresh of the griddle to the table. The Waukegan Main Street restaurant’s highlighted eats include Pollo en Mole Estilo Guerrero (chicken in house-made mole sauce), Filete Gourmet (Bacon wrapped beef tenderloin filet with ham and chihuahua cheese), Chiles en Nogada (Poblano peppers stuffed with mincemeat, walnut cream and pomegranate), Cabrito Estilo Monterrey (grilled goat served with guacamole, cowboy beans and pasilla sauce), Filete Oaxaqueño (catfish filet in a banana leaf with zucchini squash blossom, chihuahua cheese and guajillo sauce), Platános Flameados (flamed bananas cooked with kahlúa, tequila Gran Manier and ice cream) and Nieve Frita (fried ice cream). Top off your visit with an evening toast at Lake County Libation Trail stop Nightshade and Dark's Pandemonium Brewing Co. and Oppidan Spirits or have another drink along the drink at Green Town on the Rocks.

Day 2:

Highland Park’s Ravinia Festival stands as not only North America’s oldest outdoor music festival but also one of its most musically diverse. This Lake County staple has provided visitors with exceptional acts since 1905. The land of lakes stage annually showcases a slew of star-studded names like Aretha Franklin, Willie Nelson, Lauryn Hill, Pitbull, Sheryl Crow, Stevie Nicks, Erykah Badu, John Legend, Tony Bennett and more. TRaviniahis itinerary also offers the convenience of Route 41, Sheridan Road and the east-west thoroughfare, Lake Cook Road.

Whether you want to see current chart-toppers, rock legends, rap stars or take in the sounds of Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO), Ravinia has something for everyone. CSO's summer residency is at the Highland Park staple. So your evening is booked!

In the day, explore Chicago Botanic Garden. The Glencoe sanctuary Garden sits on 385 acres and features four natural areas spread across nine islands surrounded by lakes. The 28 different gardens inside the Glencoe sanctuary offer ample opportunity to snap a picture of the vernal equinox boasting their Butterflies & Blooms exhibit, Model Railroad exhibit and more color palette explosions in an exceptional natural habitat. 

A thirst or hunger coming on during your ride? Nearby in the Ravinia District in Highland Park is Lake County Libation Trail partner Ravinia Brewing Company, complete with live music and an outdoor beer garden. ou can hear the tunes from Ravinia Festival from this brew hub. Or prior to dinner, journey to Highwood for delectable Italian cuisine at Disotto highlighted by pizza, pasta, seafood and other Neapolitian favorites. Other Libation Trail partners in the area include Broken Tee Brewing Co. and Pazzo di Vino in Highwood and Lynfred Winery in Highland park. 

Day 3

The Shanty in Wadsworth is also a delectable option for lunch or dinner. The Food Network eatery featured on "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives," this renowned culinary village was voted "Best of Chicago" and an "Illinois Delicious Destination" The century-old tradition creates locally-sourced, scratch-made American and global-inspired dishes. Order their whiskey shrimp dish, one of the Wadsworth eatery's award-winning cuisines.

Fort Sheridan While the land of lakes is home to fully-operational Naval Station Great Lakes, there's also an army base that has been a fixture in the community. Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve in the Highwood, Highland Park and Lake Forest areas is a National Historic Landmark that preserves this army post with breathtaking architecture and a fanfare view of Lake Michigan. . Once a post of the U.S. Army Post named after Civil War Cavalry General Philip Sheridan, the defunct fort located in Highland Park, Highwood and Lake Forest has been closed since 1993. During the 2018 Illinois Bicentennial, Fort Sheridan was selected as one of the Illinois 200 Places by the American Institute of Architects. The army fort was maintained for over 100 years, as it opened in the late 1800s. The Fort Sheridan District is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and is a U.S. National Historic Landmark.

Possibly a relative, someone someone you know or even yourself went through boot camp at Great Lakes. Visit the National Museum of the American Sailor to glimpse of what Navy life was like and is today. There might be a traveling exhibit to check out or volunteer recruits to engage with to learn more.

After a busy day and an empty tummy, visit downtown Lake Forest. The Gallery Lake Forest is the epitome of art, innovation of inspiration. Open Wednesday-Saturday, The fine art gallery and restaurant is highlighted by its rotating exhibits, delectable entrées, unique cocktails, a bakeshop and its intimate nightlife vibe. Or visit Francesca's Intimo, renowned for its flavorful and familiar Italian dishes, this nearly 20+-year-old neighborhood institution is going strong. The menu features Rome's zesty, earthy cuisine and the surrounding areas of Tuscany, Umbria, and Lazio. The piattis are highlighted by salads, paninis, seafoods, pizza and various pasta delights, located in the heart of the city’s downtown area. You must try their desserts as they are to die for. 

"If you're in the know of where to hold 'em and when to fold 'em," visit the land of lakes newest attraction, American Place Casino. The Waukegan facility is temporarily housed in a sprung tent featuring slots, table games, three restaurants and soon a sportsbook. The permanent casino will be built adjacent to the temporary site, slated to be completed in 2025. But for now, "luck be a lady tonight!"

On day two and three, you can rest easy at SpringHill Suites or Hampton Inn & Suites in Waukegan, the Courtyard Highland Park or The Forester in Lake Forest.





Routes 21 & 45 Routes 21 & 45 Route 83 Route 41 Route 12

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