Lake County bridges the area between Chicago’s Cook County and the Wisconsin border with family attractions and nature trails.

By By Margaret Doyle
Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe

Daredevil roller coasters, such as the new 12-story Joker and superfast Goliath, draw families to Six Flags Great America in Gurnee. Besides the world's fastest and steepest wooden coaster (Goliath), the park maintains 13 additional coasters and more than 30 milder rides. Next door, families share a raft as they whoosh down water slides or float Castaway Creek at Hurricane Harbor, Six Flags' 20-acre water park.

Six Flags Great America, Gurnee. Photo: Courtesy of IOT.

Nearby KeyLime Cove, an indoor tropical-themed water resort, houses a wave pool, multiple twisty tube slides and a lazy river that winds through the park. For an outdoor adventure, the nature trails at Glencoe's Chicago Botanic Garden lead to more than 25 blooming gardens, including the Children's Growing Garden.

Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe. Photo: Courtesy of IOT.

Eleven miles west of Gurnee, gearheads appreciate the Volo Auto Museum, a sprawling complex housing one-of-a-kind autos, such as the Batmobile and tricked-out muscle cars, plus vintage arcade games, coin-operated kiddie rides, antique malls and a pizza parlor.

See

A troupe of elegant white stallions shows off its ballet-like dressage moves at Tempel Farms in Old Mill Creek. To learn more about the daily care and training of the Lipizzans, go behind the scenes on a one-hour tour.

Tempel Farms, Old Mill Creek. Photo: Courtesy of IOT.

Animal keepers answer questions and share interesting tidbits about some of the facility's 85 reptiles and native animals at the Wildlife Discovery Center in Lake Forest.

At Lambs Farm in Libertyville, people with developmental disabilities maintain a petting zoo with farm animals, plus an on-site cafe. End the visit with a spin on the carousel.

Lambs Farm. Photo: Courtesy of IOT.

It's retail therapy and more at Gurnee Mills, boasting more than 200 outlet stores and restaurants. At Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, native species-including some trophy fish from local anglers-attract mall shoppers at the giant aquarium inside. Kids play laser tag in the middle of the mall at Tilt Studio.

Yesteryear comes alive in Historic Downtown Long Grove, where old-fashioned shops line cobblestone walkways. The village hosts popular family events that include the May Chocolate Fest and June Strawberry Fest.

Savor

Locally raised ingredients-straight from the family farm-are on the menu at Beelow's Steakhouse in Lake Zurich and Highland Park. In nearby Libertyville, Mickey Finn's Brewery serves pub food with craft ales and lagers while diners enjoy live music.

Head north to Gurnee's The Chocolate Sanctuary for all things chocolate, including ribs covered in cocoa-infused barbecue sauce and cocoa-candied bacon. Lindenhurst's Ad-Lib Geocafe uses locally sourced food for its menu, which changes seasonally.

Stay

Illinois Beach State Park, with more than 6 miles of sparkling Lake Michigan shoreline for swimming, sunning and hiking, encompasses the breezy Illinois Beach Resort in Zion.

Illinois Beach State Park. Photo: Courtesy of IOT.

Lincolnshire Marriott Resort includes a PGA golf course, tennis courts, two pools and the acclaimed Marriott Theatre.

KeyLime Cove in Gurnee offers an indoor water park, arcade, spa and six restaurants to keep the family happy.

For more information on this getaway or for more family-friendly excursion ideas, visit enjoyillinois.com

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