Patch Passport: Evanston Offers Beach, Art, a Premier University and History

The Patch Passport series guides you to tourist destinations right here in the Chicago area.

There’s no shortage of fun things to do in Evanston. It’s a college town, so it has the late-night restaurants, trivia night at the bar, and yes, the occasional raging kegger. But it also has a strong sense of community with lots of family-friendly attractions.

Here’s a guide of fun things to do in your own backyard. Be sure to check out our other Patch towns throughout Chicagoland.


The Grosse Point lighthouse is one of the most popular sights in the city. It was built in 1873 and has National Landmark status, and is open year-round. Tours are offered from June through September, on Saturdays and Sundays at 2, 3, and 4 p.m.  Tour tickets are $6 for adults and $3 for children aged 8 to 12, and it is advised to call 847-328-6961 before your visit. Even if you don’t take a tour, it’s a great place to pull over for a few minutes to take a look around, free of charge.

If your brain is filled with mostly useless information, trivia night is a great place to impress your friends. Nevin’s offers drink specials and prizes for the winning team. Pro tip: Be sure to listen closely to the music that plays after questions are asked, as they sometime contain clues for the correct answer.

You can’t visit a college city without visiting the college. The NU campus is scenic and great for walking or picnics, and sneaking off to the back parking lot on the east side of Sheridan Road offers stunning views of the city. Just be sure to walk or take a bus, as most parking in the area is permit only.

The Noyes center gallery is open every day of the week, from 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Sunday. The current exhibit, which runs through Aug. 30, is called New Encaustic Explorations, and admission is free.

The Hummingbird Food Truck is the only Evanston food truck, and it’s also the only food truck in the area that is permitted to cook food fresh on board. The menu changes daily and the truck isn’t out all the time, so follow it on Twitter to track it down.

The Beach

Evanston’s beaches are open seven days a week from 10:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.  (weather permitting) through Labor Day. In addition to sunbathing and splashing around in the water, the Evanston beach offers kayak and sailboat rentals, kayak and sailboat lessons, and kayak fishing trips. The beaches aren’t free, but passes are available at the entrance and cost for $8 for people over age 12, $6 for people ages 1-11, and free for children under age 1.

The downtown shopping district has something for everyone, and there’s a large movie theater that’s showing all the summer blockbusters. The Cine Arts theater also shows a number of independent and art films that you won’t find anywhere else in the area. Work up a sweat shopping, and then cool off in the theater’s air conditioning. Perfect!

There are plenty of other places to check out in Evanston. And don’t forget you can always browse our directory for things to do, places to eat, and places to shop. If you have more ideas, please tell us in the comments!


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