The relaxing and restorative power of the north suburban lakeshore has a magnetic pull for residents and tourists alike. It’s no wonder why Ferris Bueller and friends stopped at Glencoe Beach to recharge after a “day off” in Chicago, in what would become a classic Windy City movie scene. It’s also why towns like Glencoe have long drawn affluent Chicago area residents. After all, lakefront land on the North Shore is in short supply, and they ain’t making any more of it.
But beyond the lakeshore, there are many other reasons to appreciate Glencoe. From new cultural attractions, to outdoor activities, to a downtown dining scene that is experiencing a reinvention, there’s much more to this village of only 9,000 people. Here are just some of the things we love about Glencoe.
Did we miss your favorite spot or is there a secret gem you’d like to share with others? Please let us know.
Chicago Botanic Gardens
With 27 gardens spanning 385 acres, the Chicago Botanic Gardens is one of the area’s largest and most extensive outdoor attractions. Filled with colorful flowers and insects, the Botanic Gardens is an excellent afternoon activity for families interested in learning about the region’s natural environment, or for those who simply just want to get out for a breath of fresh air.
Tranquil and picturesque, Glencoe Beach was immortalized on film in John Hughes’ Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The secluded spot was near and dear to Hughes himself, who grew up in nearby Northbrook. It’s also a top destination for watersports, family picnics and sunrise yoga. One can get a full, relaxing beach day at this ample strip of North Shore lakefront without the busy crowds of the city.
When approaching the recently completed Writers Theatre, it’s immediately apparent that there’s something special about this place. Is it the dramatic contemporary design from noted architect Jeanne Gang? Or maybe the soulful performances that have reverberated through the auditorium’s glass walls? Or perhaps it’s the excitement of sharing a new memory with a loved one? We like to think it’s all of the above and definitely worthy of a visit for an evening show or architectural exploration.
Historic homes and architecture
Similar to neighboring Winnetka and Highland Park, Glencoe boasts an impressive inventory of truly incredible homes from all architectural periods since the late Victorian era. More so, the village is known for its small collection of Frank Lloyd Wright houses and the modest modernist homes of brother architects George Fred and William Keck. Of course, there’s also the historic mansions just steps from the Lake Michigan shoreline. Even more attractive? You can find a gorgeous home full of charm and historic character at a variety of price points.
Buyers who may only just be starting their home search will quickly find that the public schools in Glencoe and surrounding North Shore ‘burbs are often ranked among the very best in the Chicago metro area. Not only does it mean that children receive a high-quality education, but the strong schools also tend to support strong housing demand, benefitting local real estate values
A “Mayberry” feel with quick transit access to Chicago
Home buying is oftentimes an exercise in compromise, requiring shoppers to make difficult decisions on key quality-of-life indicators. However, with a small-town feel and quick 40-minute Metra ride to downtown Chicago, Glencoe offers flexibility and an empowering feeling that buyers don’t have to settle. Prefer quiet, residential streets but still want easy access to Loop offices and city nightlife? Glencoe might be for you.
But of course, Glencoe residents don’t have to head towards downtown Chicago to have an exciting night out. Guildhall offers an upscale bistro vibe and lively bar, as well as a savory Sunday brunch. Seeking a classic cocktail after a long work week? Highly rated Valor has you covered. Maybe you’re just meeting with a friend for a coffee and conversation? There’s the quickly expanding menu at locally owned Hometown Coffee & Juice.
After a big Sunday brunch, head over to the Skokie Lagoons for a walk through the expansive nature preserve. Numerous lagoons span nearly 900 acres. This equates to lots of outdoor recreation options, including hiking, kayaking, bird watching, fishing, and more.
Glencoe Public Library
It may not be the largest library on the North Shore, but downtown Glencoe’s old public library is big on curb appeal and public programming. Beyond the variety of reading series, the library offers some more progressive educational activities, such as movies, puppet shows, and even special Minecraft events. The quaint red brick library is also a great spot to cozy up with a book for a relaxing weekend or evening.
Watts Ice Center
Outdoor fun and adventures don’t have to end when the cold winter months finally sweep over the Chicago area. The Watts Ice Center, an outdoor rink in southern Glencoe, offers open skate times, as well as figure skating and hockey programs. The facility is also available for short-term event rental for birthday parties, corporate outings, and more.