Evanston is family friendly suburb 12 miles north of downtown Chicago. In a nutshell, it has Lake Michigan, a small city feel, and bigger city amenities making it a near perfect city to raise a family.
From the following list you will see all that Evanston has to offer a family looking for that perfect location in Chicago. For ease of reading, we organized them by general topics. We hope this list serves as a good introduction to our great city.
World-Class Public Schools
- Evanston Township High School: Evanston Township High School is ranked in the top 2% of high schools in the country and reflects the ethnic, economic, racial, and cultural diversity of the community.
Culture and the Arts in Evanston
- Evanston History Center: At the Evanston History Center, your family can learn about the past 110 years of Evanston history, as well as the life of Charles Gates Dawes. Mr. Dawes donated his home upon his death to the historical society so that they could continue their work. Mr. Dawes received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in lessening the financial load on post WWI Germany.
- Mary and Leigh Block Museum: Mary & Leigh Block Museum of Art is located on the campus of Northwestern University. Originally the museum was designed in the German kunsthalle tradition. This tradition is one in which there are no permanent collections, but rather rotations of pieces from various museums. This eventually changed as the university began adding its pieces to the museum. The Mary & Leigh Block Museum also contains an outdoor sculpture garden and is home to the Block House Cinema. The Cinema plays arthouse, international, and classic films which are all curated by the film students at Northwestern University.
- Mitchell Museum of the American Indian: Mitchell Museum of the American Indian is a museum that focuses exclusively on the history, culture, and arts of North American native peoples
- Grosse Point Lighthouse: A stunning sight to see is the Grosse Point Lighthouse. It was built just after the Civil War. Prior to the building of Grosse Point, there were frequent shipping accidents in the lake. A trip to the museum will educate your children on the history of shipping and lighthouses. A trip up the 141 stairs will be worth it to see the 2nd order Fresnel lens. It is one of the largest ever made and one of the eight still in service on Lake Michigan.
- The Chicago Philharmonic: Going to see the Chicago Philharmonic can be either a nice date night or a dose of culture for the family. Sit back and enjoy the sounds of the orchestra as the music fills you and your family. An evening with the Philharmonic will be nothing but pleasurable.
- Dillo Day: On the last weekend of May, Dillo Day is a music venue for the older members of the family. Dillo Day began in 1972 as Armadillo day by students at Northwestern University, and over the course of 40 years, it has morphed into a major music event. Dillo Day is still run by the students at Northwestern in which they sign well known artist to perform.
- Space: There is a unique music venue named Space which is more for the adults. Space is an acronym for Society for the Preservation of Art and Culture in Evanston. Indie rock, Blues, and Jazz are a few examples of the types of genres that can be heard at this music venue. The atmosphere is cozy and intimate with small group and candlelit tables. Space is known for its podcasts and impromptu radio.
- 27 Live: For a different twist, there is 27 Live. You and your family can enjoy casual dining along with live bands. There are two areas in 27 Live; the restaurant, which is open to all ages, and the lounge, which is 21 and over. 27 Live is also known for their craft beers for the adult members to enjoy.
Restaurants and Food
- Great restaurants: Evanston features world-class restaurants and offers a vast array of specialty foods, shops, bakeries and delis.
- Downtown Evanston Farmers’ Market: The Downtown Evanston Farmers Market is a large, open air market with as many as 58 vendors. There are a variety of items for sale from farm fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, cheeses, eggs, bakery items, and even flowers. Saturdays has a host of events to enjoy in the tent areas. Amateur chefs from across the Chicago area come in to give recipe demonstrations and will even share their recipes with you.
- Fourth of July parade: Evanston celebrates the 4th in the traditional manner familiar to families across the country. Their well-known 4th of July Parade is so famous that citizens begin marking their viewing spot weeks in advance. After the parade, there is a day of fun at the lakeshore and a tennis match followed by a fireworks display at the lakefront.
- Fountain Square Arts Festival: An annual event is the Fountain Square Arts Festival on Church St. It is Evanston’s salute to summer and the arts with a large display of sculptures, paintings, drawings, and more, along with interactive activities for the kids. There is a pop/rock stage for live music that performs to entertain festival goers.
- Ryan Field – Northwestern football games: In the fall, when football season kicks into high gear, Ryan Field fills up with fans of the Northwestern Wildcats. Evanston is home to Northwestern University and Ryan Field. Before 1997, Ryan Field was named Dyche Stadium in honor of William Dyche who was mayor of Evanston and overseer of the stadium project. Your family can enjoy a crisp autumn afternoon cheering on the Wildcats at the local university.
- Evanston Century 12: The Evanston Century 12 shows all of the first run movies right in the heart of Evanston.
- Greenwood Street Beach: At Greenwood Street Beach your family can enjoy a summer day on the shores of Lake Michigan. The kids will enjoy making sand castles in the pretty, fine, white sand, while the adults can kick back and relax as the lakefront breeze rolls by.
- Lakefront in Evanston: From the lakefront in Evanston, it is an easy access to kayaking or boating from any of the boat launches. You and your family can enjoy a day of sailing on the waters of Lake Michigan. Don’t know how to sail or kayak? There are many business’ along the lakefront that give lessons in sailing and kayaking. Drive along the beautiful tree lined streets to see the historic mansions along the lakefront. If you can afford one of these historic charmers, then get one to enjoy the views of the lake from your porch.
- Evanston Public Library – Events for kids: For the young readers the Evanston Public Library is the perfect place. The Evanston Library has reading times where stories are read and even authors stop by to read and sign copies of their latest books. Evanston library also has a program for under-privileged youths to receive books of their own.
- Dawes Park: Dawes Park in Evanston is rated as one of the top parks in Evanston. It is located off Sheridan on the shores of Lake Michigan. There are miles of biking and walking trails and also dog friendly. One the best surprises is a dog beach for man’s best friend.
Easy Commute to Downtown Chicago
- The El: There is a CTA EL stop, easy access to downtown Chicago.
- The Metra: The metra line stops right in Downtown Evanston for the express commute to downtown Chicago or to take a train to Ravinia.
- Family Resources: Evanston is a great community for families. There is a website dedicated to family activities in Evanston.
- Diversity: Looking for diversity? Evanston has it. This article says it well.
We hope this list provides you and your family enough information to make Evanston your next home.
Please feel free to leave a comment or suggestion of other great activities for families in Evanston.
– Paul Fischl, DDS