Illinois Itinerary: Historic Gems Along Lake Michigan, Incredible Edibles & Art Awareness

Illinois Itinerary: Historic Gems Along Lake Michigan, Incredible Edibles & Art Awareness

The Itinerary at a Glance

You’ll be fascinated by the historic gems tucked along Chicago’s North Shore including the only remaining temple of its kind in North America and the grand homestead of a former U.S. vice president. “The Spice Boss” works his magic hand-mixing boutique blends, you’ll “ooh” and “ah” over imported olive oils and enjoy boutique shopping at its finest. Take in a live show or concert and Presto! You get to be Picasso!

4 Unique Experience on This Trip

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  • Evanston History Center
  • The Spice House
  • Frances Willard House
  • Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art


Duration: 2 Days

Available: Year-round

This Itinerary is Ideal For: All

Itinerary Details


Day 1

North Shore Center for the Performing Arts Barbara Freeman Shoot 2015Morning: Begin your day along the sparkling waters of Lake Michigan where you’ll be dazzled by the grandeur and beauty of the Baha’i House of Worship, one of only seven Baha’i temples in the world and the only one in North America. Step into the serene surroundings of this architectural treasure that rises high above the shores of Lake Michigan and marvel at its lace-like ornamentation and dome rising 135 feet above the main floor. Linger a little longer outside and wrap yourself in the unsurpassed beauty of the exquisite gardens and fountains that surround the temple.

Next, you’ll walk in the footsteps of a former U.S. vice president when you tour the Charles Gates Dawes House, his majestic namesake mansion that overlooks Lake Michigan. This National Historic Landmark, which captures Evanston’s rich history and boasts original furnishings and artwork, also serves as the proud home of the Evanston History Center.

Lunch: Enjoy a relaxing and sumptuous lunch at a downtown Evanston restaurant.

Afternoon: After lunch, treat your senses to a culinary world tour at The Spice House, where second-generation spice merchants import the most dazzling array of sweet and savory spices from their countries of origin. Their weekly small-batch grinding process ensures the freshest quality for all your favorite recipes. Try their “Saigon” cassia cinnamon, which boasts a sweet spicy heat like red-hot candies and is so popular, they grind about a hundred pounds each week. The tasty tour continues at Old Town Oil, “a playground for your palette” founded by four brothers in Chicago. They work with small-batch producers from around the world and receive new products every few weeks, so enjoy a hands-on, interactive culinary experience where you’re invited to sample, mix and match their premium olive oils and vinegars to find the flavors you’re craving. Take your time and stroll along the Central Street Shopping District, home to some of the most unique boutiques and shops on the North Shore.

Dinner: Enjoy dinner at a fabulous Evanston restaurant.

Evening: Customize a great night out for your group at two lively venues for fabulous music, comedy, dance and theater: The North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, a soaring two-theater complex that’s home to the award-winning Northlight Theatre and Skokie Valley Symphony, as well as host to the best in music, comedy and dance in their main stage theater.

Hotel: Overnight in one of Chicago North Shore’s warm and inviting hotels.

Day 2

Botanic New Circle GardenphotoMorning: Step back into 19th century America and tour the Frances Willard House, home to one of the most prominent social reformers of her time. Willard, a long-time resident of Evanston, Illinois, was arguably one of the generating influences in America’s long history of social justice and activism as she bravely rallied for woman’s suffrage, woman’s economic rights and labor reforms. She lived in this historic homestead from its construction in 1865 until her death in 1898.

Just a few blocks away, you can’t help but smile as you walk through the door of one of the most uniquely amusing museums in the world, The American Toby Jug Museum. Home to the world’s largest collection featuring over 8,000 Toby and Character jugs from around the globe, your journey begins in the city of Stoke-on-Trent, England and leads you through 20 countries over 250 years to the latest 21st century productions.

Lunch: Enjoy a relaxing and sumptuous lunch in downtown Evanston.

Afternoon: You can go for an art history degree or just an incredible day full of art exploration; either way you’re heading to Evanston’s prestigous Northwestern University, home of the renowned Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art. This fine arts museum is dedicated to the study and exhibition of reproducible art forms, including prints, photographs, film, video and computer-mediated art. In addition to a world-class outdoor sculpture garden, the museum hosts an acclaimed film series, which moves outside to the gorgeous grounds in the summer.

The art appreciation continues just a few blocks away at The Levere Memorial Temple, a tribute to Sigma Alpha Epsilon members who lost their lives in the war. Marvel at this stunning architectural treasure that contains a custom-designed collection of Tiffany stained glass.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said that “every artist was first an amateur” and the creative team at Bottle & Bottega couldn’t agree more. Since day one, they’ve proven that “inside everyone is a master artist just waiting to be uncorked,” so they pride themselves on teaching real art by real artists. A perfect way to wrap up your art-filled afternoon, an artist will lead your group in painting your own masterpiece while you snack, enjoy fine wine and create a treasure to take home.



Contributor: Editor

Leisure Group Travel is the premier publication in the group travel industry.

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