• Whitley Pleas

Seven Fun Things to Do in Lake Forest

By Whitley Pleas Lake Forest residents believe it is one of the best places in Illinois – if not the country – to raise a family. With its welcoming community, beautiful landscapes and charming local businesses, Lake Forest is an amazing place to call home.

As a communications intern at the City of Lake Forest and a student at Lake Forest College, here are seven fun things I’ve found to do in Lake Forest:

1. Explore our nature preserves

Take a breather and head over to Middlefork Savana Forest Preserve. This preserve features a four-mile trail with views of oak savannas, wet prairies and marshes. Also, you can catch glimpses of several species of birds and butterflies.

Or check out Derwen Mawr Nature Preserve. Located off Deerpath, this 26-acre preserve was restored in 2001 and contains sections of native prairie throughout its scenic trails. Check the Lake Forest Open Lands website to plan your trip.


2. Try a new restaurant


There’s more to the Lake Forest restaurant scene than Starbucks. The Lantern has been around since 1934, and it remains as popular as ever. Check out the Lake Forest Chamber of Commerce website to see a full list of local eateries.

3. Take an art class at Stirling Hall

Express yourself in Stirling Hall’s multi-level art workshops for youth and adults. Take a class in ceramics, wheel throwing, drawing, painting and more. Learn more at Stirling Hall’s website.


4. Cozy up with a book at the Library

As an English major at Lake Forest College, I love to read. If you’re a bookworm like me, make sure to stop by the Lake Forest Library. The friendly librarians will be able to help you find books or use library resources, and the author talks are worth attending. Learn more at the Lake Forest Library's website.

5. Volunteer with Parks and Rec

Is volunteering more your speed? Help out the Lake Forest Parks and Recreation Department by volunteering in athletics, programming or other activities. Visit the Parks and Rec website to learn more.

6. Embrace your wild side at the Wildlife Discovery Center

Located at Elawa Farm, the center features fascinating indoor and outdoor exhibits of 85 species of animals, from crocodilians to raptors. Hear from the center’s animal keepers and enjoy the 670-acre habitat. Plan your trip by checking out the Wildlife Discovery Center’s website.

7. Catch a show at the Gorton Community Center

Finally, the Gorton Community Center frequently hosts events such as plays and comedy shows. Just a 10-minute walk from Lake Forest College’s campus, this center is renowned around town for bringing in the best entertainment. Attend Gorton’s Holly Jolly Family Concert with the Lake Forest Civic Orchestra for a program of popular holiday carols, both new and old, on December 19th! Check out the Gorton Center’s website for the full list of programs.