Positioned on Chicago’s North Shore, Waukegan has always been a town for great storytelling. Hometown hero, sci-fi author Ray Bradbury even referenced it in his fiction under the pseudonym Green Town. In real life, the Lake Michigan city is an emerging success story, transforming itself into an artist-focused community one building at a time.
Waukegan’s rejuvenation began with the $24 million restoration of the 1927 Genesee Theater, performance home of native son Jack Benny, who broadcast from the elegant movie palace that now anchors a revitalized arts district. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the renovated 1928 Karcher Hotel has also reopened as Karcher Artspace and houses 36 studios under one roof.
The city celebrates every third Saturday of the month with ArtWauk, a free roaming art show that lets guests tour more than 20 local businesses to see displayed work from area artists. Participants include Dandelion Gallery, Urban Edge, Tufo, I.V.Y., Clockwise Theater, Green Town Tavern and Fiamico Italian restaurant. Waukegan also encourages visitors to enjoy its sprawling public beachfront, summer concerts, harbor, the Dandelion Fine Arts Fest in June and the Ray Bradbury Festival each October.