North Shore Vibe Explores Evanston's Unbelievably Beautiful Walking Trails

North Shore Vibe Explores Evanston's Unbelievably Beautiful Walking Trails

It is time to discover Chicago’s North Shore and there is no better place to start than the first stop on the North Shore, Evanston!  Across the globe, Evanston is known as the home to Northwestern University.  We are here to let you know that it is much more than that.  Evanston is a stunning place with miles of Lake Michigan shoreline and wonderful people.  

As you know, we love the outdoors and the beauty it provides.  Below, we want to share some of our favorite outdoor activities in Evanston, IL.  All of these places are a great place for a walk and will leave you feeling refreshed and energized.  Our favorite places to explore in Evanston:


Evanston Lakefront Trail

The Vibe: If you are spending the day in Evanston, the lakefront trail is a must!  Seriously, cancel your plans and make this your priority.  The lakefront trail runs directly along the shoreline of Lake Michigan.  It is a well-maintained paved path that is great for running, walking your dog, biking, and rollerblading.  Parks are plentiful along the lakefront trail and the parks between the trail and the lake provide unobstructed water views.

The trail runs all the way up to the Northwestern campus and links up with a bike path that will take you to Wilmette (the next town north).  If you take the trail all the way up to Northwestern, we recommend checking out the Northwestern University Lakefill (another one of our favorite spots and more on that to come).

The Logistics:  Evanston is a street parking community and that is our recommendation for getting to the lakefront trail.  Below you will find a link to the map that will take you to the beginning of the trail.  You should be able to find parking on side streets that run perpendicular to the lake.  On a busy weekend summer day, it will be more difficult to find prime parking.  MAKE SURE YOU DO NOT PARK IN A RESTRICTED AREA – Evanston is quick to give parking tickets (and they are not cheap!).

Location:  Evanston Lakefront Trail Starting Point  (Starting Point is Lee Street Beach)


Northwestern University Lakefill

The Vibe: For prospective students, the prestige of Northwestern University is a big draw.  For North Shore and Chicago residents, the beauty of campus and its proximity to the lake is a huge attraction.  Northwestern’s campus runs directly along the Lake Michigan shoreline.  And the best spot to enjoy great views of the lake and some marvelous landscaping is the Northwestern University Lakefill.  Dogs are plentiful at the Lakefill, and there are open grasslands for picnics and activities (frisbee, spikeball, kanjam, etc.).  There are also some great spots to set up a hammock and lounge for the day.  At the time of this post (Fall 2020), there is shoreline protection construction ongoing that is scheduled to be completed by Spring 2021.  The lakefill is still a great experience even as construction is ongoing.

Fun fact about the Northwestern Lakefill.  It means exactly what it says.  In the 1950s, Northwestern wanted to expand campus but land was proving too expensive.  So naturally, the university purchased some of the lake and filled it in.  No big deal I guess.  

The Logistics:  Be careful with campus parking, they are also quick to give tickets.  Unless there is a specific parking permit sign posted, you are good to park on campus after 4 pm on weekdays and all-day on weekends (unless there is a special event).  If you are going to do a short walk (less than 2 hours) and don’t want to risk getting a parking ticket, try to find parking across from Blomquist Recreation Center on Foster Street.  Here you will find free 2-hour parking. 

Location:  Northwestern University Lakefill


Perkins Woods

The Vibe:  If you are looking for a woodsier feel in Evanston, we would recommend this hidden gem.  What is cool about this place is that you would likely never find it unless you knew to look for it.  Perkins Woods is in the middle of residential Evanston and is a well-kept secret in the community.  The woods is not large (only 7.5 acres), but it is extremely well maintained and rarely busy.  The organizations/community members that care for this beautiful hideout do a great job of maintaining the land and prioritizing native species.  It is also a great spot for some bird watching if you are into that kind of thing.  

One thing to keep in mind as you explore this area… please respect the conservation and protection efforts that are ongoing.  

The Logistics:  Nothing complicated with getting to Perkins Woods.  Plug the address below into your preferred maps app and you will be able to find residential street parking.  Make sure you consider street cleaning days when parking in residential Evanston.  Also, there are many young kids in the area, please drive slow and with caution!

Location:  Perkins Woods


Ladd Arboretum

The Vibe:  The Ladd Arboretum occupies 23 acres on the west side of Evanston.  If you are looking for a family walk or bike ride, this can be a great spot.  This arboretum has a wide, paved trail that is well maintained.  The Evanston Ecology Center is located within the arboretum and is a great place to check out if you are looking for after school programming for the kids.  The one knock on Ladd Arboretum is the road noise.  This beautiful area is adjacent to McCormick Boulevard (one of the busier roads in Evanston) and road noise might be distracting if you are looking for a quiet/peaceful experience.

The Logistics:  Good news!  There is free public parking for Ladd Arboretum.  Follow your map to the link below and you will see parking nearby!

Location:  Ladd Arboretum


Looking for coffee & a snack to get you on your way? NORTH SHORE VIBE Coffee & Snack Recommendations in the Evanston Area:

Want to show your love for the outdoors and Chicago’s North Shore while you explore Evanston, check out our NORTH SHORE VIBE APPAREL - 5% of proceeds are donated to Lake Michigan and shoreline conservation efforts!