Top 10 Things To Do in May 2024

By: Stephanie Wylie 04/26/2024

Get ready, Lake County, to explore the top 10 activities for May 2024! As April showers bring May flowers, we celebrate the full bloom of spring this month.

May, the fifth month, is also when we celebrate National Travel & Tourism Week. Keep an eye on our website from May 19-25 (and pretty much year-round too). Ravinia Festival in Highland Park has released its 2024 schedule in March, and tickets are now available to the public.

Additionally, Lake County's farmers markets are starting to open for the season. Explore here to discover the freshest locally grown fruits and vegetables of the season.

It's time to put away your galoshes and winter coats and embrace the best box socials, performances, exhibits, and scenic views that the land of lakes has to offer. Here are the top 10 things to do in May 2024.

1. May Festivals in Lake County 


The sun is out, and humans are hunting for a party to cut a rug to live Spotify, exploring their palate for a bite of enchanting eats and drinks, seeking the thrills of a lifetime on all of the carnival rides and so much more.

2. Des Plaines River Canoe & Kayak Marathon (May 19)

For over fifty years, the Des Plaines River Canoe and Kayak Marathon has been a beloved event, offering an 18.5-mile race along the historic Des Plaines River, commencing at the Oak Spring Road Canoe Launch in Libertyville. As the second oldest canoe race in the United States, this event now includes a new 5.25-mile mini-thon starting at Potawatomi Woods in Wheeling, perfect for families. With races tailored to different age groups, there's something for everyone. Don't forget to enjoy the scenic views as you paddle! Race registration is available at the start line or mini-thon start, payable via check or cash.

3. #LetsSnapLakeCounty Photo Contest (Now-June 20)

Get your cameras ready for the #LETSSNAPLAKECOUNTY PHOTO CONTEST! From March 19 to June 20, showcase your best images of Lake County in one of six categories. Whether it's outdoor adventures, family moments, dining experiences, local events or unique travel culture, we want to see your #InstaGood shots! Submit up to five photos for a chance to win exclusive prizes and have your work featured in future tourism marketing materials. Don't miss this opportunity to capture the beauty of Lake County and join the contest today! Click below for terms and conditions and to see previous year's winners and honorable mentions.

4. Car Shows in Lake County 

Lake County hosts various car shows throughout the year, offering a diverse range of classic, vintage, and custom vehicles for enthusiasts to admire and enjoy. From classic car exhibitions to specialty showcases, there's something for every car enthusiast in Lake County.

5. Mother's Day in Lake County (May 12)

Celebrate Mother's Day in Lake County with special brunches, outdoor activities, and events designed to honor and pamper moms. From scenic lakeside brunches to relaxing spa retreats, Lake County offers plenty of ways to show your appreciation for Mom on her special day.

6. Butterflies and Blooms at Chicago Botanic Gardens

Experience the enchanting world of butterflies at "Butterflies & Blooms" at the Chicago Botanic Garden starting May 31. Inside the 2,800-square-foot mesh enclosure, discover colorful butterfly species from around the world, including those native to Illinois. Explore the diversity and life cycle of butterflies and moths, observe them in the pupa room and witness new life emerging before your eyes. From the majestic blue morphos to the delicate African moon moth, this event offers a mesmerizing journey into the beauty of nature.

7. Theatre in Lake County 

Lake County offers a vibrant theater scene with a variety of productions to enjoy throughout the year. From community theater performances to professional productions, there's always a show to delight theater enthusiasts in Lake County:


8. Beer Garden at Independence Grove

Looking for the perfect outdoor venue for your next event? Look no further than the Beer Garden at Independence Grove in Libertyville! With stunning views of the lake and forest, this picturesque setting is ideal for birthday parties, reunions, corporate retreats, and more. Enjoy a selection of local craft brews, packaged snacks, and beverages, while relaxing in the casual lakeside seating. Contact Relish Events at IG for catering options or order from their new café, sure to complement the perfect day out.

9. Farmers Markets in Lake County

Browsing through the vibrant array of produce at Lake County's farmers markets isn't just about supporting local; it's an opportunity to savor the warm summer days with family and friends. Explore an abundance of locally sourced fruits and vegetables, along with delicious prepared foods, aromatic spices, succulent meats, artisanal pastries, and freshly baked bread. Check out the comprehensive list of Lake County's Farmers Markets by clicking the info button below. Here are the festival-like markets starting in the spring:

10. Food Trucks in Lake County

Lake County's food truck scene offers a diverse and delicious array of culinary delights to satisfy every palate. From gourmet tacos to savory barbecue and sweet treats, these food trucks bring a world of flavors right to your doorstep. Whether you're exploring a local event or simply craving something tasty on the go, Lake County's food trucks have you covered.

BONUS: National Travel & Tourism Week in Lake County (May 19-25)

As the U.S. Travel Association's National Travel and Tourism Week (NTTW) celebrates its 41st year, Visit Lake County recognizes the critical role of travel in powering economies, communities and connections. Join us in celebrating #NTTW24 from May 19-25 and discover how Visit Lake County fuels every sector, contributing to the success of our community. Follow us on social media for surprises and as we continue to highlight this impact together, advancing education, business growth, manufacturing and more in Lake County.


BONUS: Illinois Craft Beer Week in Lake County 

Get ready for Illinois Craft Beer Week, May 3-10, with the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild! Kick off the festivities at Beer Under Glass, featuring over 100 Illinois breweries, on May 3 at Chicago's Union Station. Explore the state's craft beer scene with guided tours and sample ~200 locally brewed beers. Don't forget to grab your ICBW Pint Glass and participate in the Adventure Challenge by visiting featured destinations, posting photos with #CraftILAdventure and tagging the Guild for a chance to win a $100 gift card. Join the fun and craft your Illinois adventure!

For more information about the top 10 things to do in May 2023, continue here. To view other spring outdoor happenings, click here.

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