Waukegan usually doesn’t feature on most people’s ‘to-visit places in America’ list. If you’re a tourist who has never come across the Waukegan name before, we don’t blame you as you’re not alone. Quite a few in the United States too are not familiar with the city.
But that doesn’t take away anything from the unique experiences the city has to offer. This Illinois city is a place to visit if you like to experience new things or the unexpected. In this guide, we would throw some light on the city’s popular attractions, the off-beat things you could indulge yourself in during your stay, and the budding tourist spots so that you can head to the city prepared.
So let’s take a look at things to do in Waukegan, Illinois, United States.
Visit Open, Clean Parks
The Waukegan Park District’s Yeoman Park is a 9.5-acre park designed to offer a clean environment, open spaces, and safe recreational equipment. With so much space at its disposal, the park not just offers play equipment in plenty but also offers space for your young ones to engage with kids of their age group.
A playground with modern play equipment was recently opened and it should click with your kids almost instantly. For adults, the park is a great place to relax, unwind, and breathe in some clean air.
Bowen Park and Lyons Woods Forest Preserve are a few other options that let you come close to nature in Waukegan.
Know Waukegan History
A museum is a quick, effective, and entertaining way to learn things about the past. If you’d like to know the history behind Waukegan without spending hours browsing on the Internet or reading through multiple books, Waukegan History Museum is the place to visit. Unsurprisingly, the place is a major hit among tourists and even locals.
The museum is a history lesson in itself. It’s located within the Haines House, which was built in 1843 – it’s Lake County’s oldest surviving buildings. The house is what visitors would step into when entering the museum, which gives you a glimpse of life during the 1870s. It houses technology and furniture from that decade, such as a phonograph, old Waukegan maps, and artwork in the form of paintings that showcase the first mill in the city.
There are plans to expand the museum to make space for a research library and additional exhibit and storage space.
Indulge in Some Theater Action
If you like watching theater – be it music, dance or comedy – Waukegan’s historic Genesee Theatre with a 2,400-seat capacity would keep you entertained. Located between Milwaukee and Chicago along Lake Michigan’s northern shore, the theater is a solid activity hub for Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois.
With Genesee, Waukegan residents and tourists have high-quality entertainment at their disposal which only the major cities had the luxury of having once.
The Theatre was constructed in 1927 to serve as a movie palace and vaudeville stage prior to being restored to its current sophisticated charm in 2004 as a venue for live entertainment. It boasts one of the biggest stages in the whole of the Midwest, an excellently restored imposing lobby for elegant and intimate events, and an auditorium with near-perfect acoustics.
Learn Local Culture and Art
If you’d like to be introduced to Waukegan’s art and culture, visit Jack Benny Center. The place plays host to various cultural events, including dance, theatre, private music, visual art classes, and voice lessons.
Initially, the Center was in Bowen Park. Later, it was shifted to Powell Park only to come back to Bowen Park. The place started as a non-profit corporation in 1964 offering music lessons. Back then it had a different name, which was changed to its current identity in 1974.
The existing name better reflects the different arts in dance, music, visual arts and theater the center offers. The place may not be your typical tourist destination, but it’s certainly a learning experience for people who appreciate the arts.
Get Wet at the Beach
The Waukegan Municipal Beach is a compact and well-maintained beach that you would fancy if you like public beaches that give a ‘private beach’ vibe. The beach plays hosts to surfers, kite enthusiasts, and several summer events. The warm summer sand is great to walk barefoot on, particularly if you have dipped your feet in the cold beach water.
For refreshments, you have a few restaurants and an ice cream store in the vicinity. The visiting charges could be higher during weekends, especially for non-residents. If you’d like to spend less and also avoid the crowd, head to the beach during weekdays.
Experience Wildlife in Close Quarters
Wildlife Discovery Center is a place to visit in Waukegan if you enjoy being outdoors and like animals. If you have kids, they would enjoy this place even better. The place primarily focuses on reptiles.
The outdoor turtle pond is impressive, particularly the efforts put in to conserve the animals. The staff is knowledgeable, passionate and kind in the way they treat the animals and receive and guide the visitors.
The place is situated in a hundred-year-old, beautiful farm that’s right in the middle of a splendid prairie. The place is small, yet ideal for spending an entire afternoon.
Bring some lunch along and find a nice picnic spot to enjoy while you’re here. The small and homey layout makes navigating the place easy and quick.
Entry to the place is free. Donations are welcome.
Spend Fun Arcade Time with Family
The People’s Choice Family Fun Center is a 43,000-square-foot facility with 150 arcade games and a miniature 18-hole golf course. Designed to replicate a circus, the arena is replete with mini games and several other entertainment options, including a ferris wheel.
The food court servers can be seen dishing out festival eats, which include pizza, cotton candy and frosty treats.
Standing out from the carnival’s hustle and bustle is the miniature golf course where putters can be seen tiptoeing dark glowing circus shapes and overcoming obstacles to hit those deviously positioned holes.Places nearby: