Kid's First Experiences in Lake County

There's a first for everything. Let your children explore Lake County like you did before them...

There are certain milestones in a child’s life that every parent must document, i.e. their first walk, their first words, their first pun (maybe not that).

Kids love the unknown. That’s why you should make some of your kid's first experiences in Lake County. It’s a learning experience for them to learn about historical nuggets at a museum, have their first meeting with a barnyard animal, take a dip in one of over 200 bodies of water that Lake County has to offer, have the ride of their life on their first thrill ride at Six Flags Great America and the list goes on for kid's firsts.

“A child’s laughter could simply be one of the most beautiful sounds in the world.” So let them explore Lake County in all of its glory.

Here’s your guide to your kid’s first experiences in Lake County.

First Beach: Turtle Beach in Antioch

Turtle Beach Marina has the largest beach on the Chain, ideal for beach-faring experiences, dining options and general leisure. Located on the Channel Lake of the Chain O’ Lakes, the location offers the beach-front Channel Lake Beach Bar. It's equipped with a marine and repair services, boat launch, 55 slips and repair. Recreational activities include swimming, sunbathing and picnicking.

Turtle Beach Marina, 42273 N. Woodbine Ave., Antioch.

First Boatride: Chain O' Lakes Marina in Fox Lake

Chain O'Lakes Marina is the only full service marina on the chain. They offer slips, in/out service, full service fuel and pump-out, a well-stocked ships store, clean bathrooms and showers, and free wifi. 

Chain O'Lakes Marina, 500 E. Grand Ave., Fox Lake.

First Coaster: Whizzer

The Whizzer, the oldest roller coaster at Six Flags Great America, almost undoubtedly shares a unique relationship with every guest. For the majority of thrill seekers, the Whizzer is the first step in climbing the ‘intensity-scale’ regarding riding coasters. Join your future coaster junkie for mini twists, turns and drops on the Whizzer.

Six Flags Great America & Hurricane Harbor, 542 N. Route 21, Gurnee.

First Concert: Stiner Pavilion

The stage located on Waukegan Municipal Beach is a perfect venue to catch a free show on the lawn along the shores of Lake Michigan. Catch any genre of local music ranging from jazz to classical to rock and everything in between in a laid back environment with your mini me.

Stiner Pavilion, 201 E. Sea Horse Dr., Waukegan.

First Experience with Live Animals: Lambs Farm

Take a day trip with your tiny tot to Libertyville/Green Oaks and experience the wonders of Lambs Farm open from April-October. Kids will love their first visit with horses, llamas, goats potbelly pigs, miniature cattle, equine, sheep and more at Lambs Farm Petting Zoo. They can also have a close encounter with a rabbit or chick.

Lambs Farm, 14245 W Rockland Rd., Libertyville.

First Festival: Nostalgia Days - Car, Truck and Motorcycle Show (early June) or Long Grove Strawberry Fest (late June)

Experiencing summer with the kiddies in Historic Downtown Long Grove is always a treat. There’s no skimp on the strawberries. This three-day event is a ‘berry-wonderful’ celebration that offers everything from chocolate covered strawberries, strawberry desserts and more. The festival features live music all day, great food, unique shopping and kid-tivities all weekend long. The event occurs annually in late June.

Historic Downtown Long Grove, 308 Old McHenry Rd., Long Grove.


One thing everyone loves is cars, and the festival hosted in the City of Zion is one of the largest in Lake County. Attendees rejoice in unison as Zion hosts the Annual Nostalgia Days. The festivities kick off on Saturday morning, and the fun continues until the evening. Vehicles are judged by class as attendees enjoy an ice cream social, arts & crafts, live music, delectable eats, and more.

Downtown Zion.

First Fish Caught: Diamond Lake

Diamond Lake is the perfect opportunity for your little ones to reel in the catch of the day for the first time. After the catch and release experience, these first timers can have a play date to celebrate their fishing success on the sand kids’ playground and climber and more.

Diamond Lake, 1016 Diamond Lake Rd., Mundelein.

First Golf Outing: Kristof's Entertainment Center

Real golf is a big kids game. Scenic Lake County is known for hosting many PGA golf events like the BMW Championship, the LPGA UL Crown, the KPMG Women's PGA Championship and many more. When your first-timers are trying to learn the core competencies with their putt game, you can mini golf 'tee off' for 18 holes at Kristof's Entertainment Center. Kristofs, located in Round Lake Beach has a scenic outdoor course.  

Kristof's Entertainment Center, 421 W Rollins Rd, Round Lake Beach. 

First Hike: The Preserve of Highland Park

The Preserve of Highland Park located adjacent to the Recreation Center of Highland Park opened to the public in June 2022. This one-of-a-kind natural area for passive recreation includes green lawns, nature-based play areas, specialized native gardens, restored woodlands, and walking and biking trails that connect neighborhoods, downtown Highland Park, and regional biking trails. Visitors can immerse themselves in the sights, sounds and experiences of nature and outdoor play.

The Preserve of Highland Park, 1207 Park Ave. West, Highland Park.

First Museum: Dunn Museum in Libertyville

The nationally accredited Dunn Museum holds a treasure trove of history about Lake County, Illinois. Visitors are invited to take a chronological walk from prehistoric times to the present through interactive exhibitions, authentic artifacts, reproductions, and audiovisual displays. Each gallery includes a touch screen that directs visitors to different forest preserves to see firsthand where the history took place. The Museum also features temporary special exhibitions.

Dunn Museum, 1899 W.Winchester Road, Libertyville.

First Park: Paulus Park

This popular visitors destination is your one-stop shop for your rug rats. This park features a picnic area, playgrounds, a beach, an athletic field and a concert stage in the summertime. The Lake Zurich location also provides winter fun like ice skating and a sled hill.  

Paulus Park, 200 S Rand Rd., Lake Zurich.

First Restaurant: Rainforest Café

The Gurnee Mills restaurant offers delicious eats for the young cubs and gives them the chance to explore the rainforest and all its dwellers. Not only do they feature an array of model jungle creatures scattered around the eatery, but the Gurnee establishment also has an aquarium where your kids can witness fish from all over the globe.

Rainforest Cafe, 6170 W Grand Ave., Gurnee.

First Live Theatre: Marriott Theatre

Before your little ones see the Broadway acts adults know and love, the Marriott Theatre features presentations for young audiences to get their first taste of live theatre. Past shows include "Seussical," "Pinocchio," "the Wizard of Oz," "The Princess and the Pea," "SchoolHouse Rock Live" and many more performances year-round.

Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Dr., Lincolnshire. 

First Sled Hill: Century Park

The whippersnappers may be too young to get on a roller coaster (or it just may not be the right season), but sledding and tubing are the next best thing. Century Park Sled Hill has their venue lighted and open until 9 p.m. during the winter. Once your kids get their first experience of that incline on the Vernon Hills slope, they’ll never want to go home.

Century Park, 1001 Lakeview Pkwy, Vernon Hills.

First Tour: Long Grove Confectionery

Lake County is home to many historical venues that offer tours. Long Grove Confectionery is a recognized leader in the industry for their quality products, attention to detail, and creative packaging. The signature piece is the Myrtle® . . . fresh, salted, roasted pecans covered with buttery caramel and smothered in rich chocolate. In addition, Long Grove Confectionery offers a full line of chocolates, barks, brittles, caramels, coated pretzels, peanut butter cups, meltaways, rich creams, assorted panned items, unique chocolate molded creations, and seasonal creative packaging designed by in-house artists.

Long Grove Confectionery Company, 333 Lexington Drive, Buffalo Grove.

For more kid’s first experiences in Lake County, visit our family fun guide.

Special Offers
Calendar of Events
Lake County Libation Trail
Free Visitors Guide
Tour Itineraries
Print Page
Road Trips Video