Beyond NU: Some must-do things in nearby suburbs


Illustration by Olivia Abeyta

There’s plenty to explore in the Chicago area outside of the city itself.

Olivia Alexander, Senior Staffer

Getting started at Northwestern, there’s a lot to learn — including the names of countless suburbs near Evanston. But soon enough, you’ll grow to be familiar with the surrounding area. As an NU student, here’s a few places outside Evanston and Chicago you should get to know. 

Old Orchard Mall

For those looking to shop endlessly, take the Chicago Transit Authority’s 201 bus route from campus to reach Westfield Old Orchard, a mall in the neighboring Village of Skokie. The shopping center is home to chain retail stores like Macy’s, Nordstrom and Zara. The closest Apple Store can also be found here. Old Orchard is also home to a movie theater and dozens of restaurants. 

Old Orchard’s hours are 11 a.m.-7 p.m. on Sundays, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 

Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center

Another location to know in Skokie is the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center. The museum’s founding principle, “Remember the Past, Transform the Future,” is the core of its exhibitions and programming. 

Dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Holocaust, the museum aims to honor the memories of lives lost and teach universal lessons combatting prejudice, hatred and indifference. Visitors can also interact with a virtual Holocaust survivor at the museum through high-definition holograph technology. 

Tickets for the museum are $8 for students, and hours of operation are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. 

Baháʼí House of Worship

On a nice spring day, students often walk or run to Wilmette,  home of the Baháʼí House of Worship for North America. The temple auditorium is open for visitors every day from 6 a.m.-8 p.m. All are welcome to explore the Baháʼí Faith’s teachings, which include common threads among the major religions and the oneness of humanity. 

While you’re visiting the Baháʼí House of Worship, though, remember to show respect by dressing modestly, including wearing a shirt and shoes. Leave bicycles and pets outside, and photography is not permitted in the auditorium. 

For those who would rather take the train, the CTA Purple Line Linden Station is also close by. 

Chicago Botanic Garden 

While the name might be misleading, Chicago Botanic Garden is really located in Glencoe, a suburb about a 30 minutes’ drive north of Evanston.

Every year, one million visitors explore the 385 acre property’s 28 gardens and four natural areas. Chicago Botanic Garden is also known for its collection of bonsai, on display from mid-April to early November. Finally, the garden presents Lightscape, a nightly holiday event, November-January each year. 

Tickets for adults start at $14.95, and hours are 10 a.m.-8 p.m. daily. We recommend you take the 213 Pace bus route to avoid paid parking when you visit. 

Six Flags

Six Flags Great America is located in Gurnee, Illinois, a 40 minute drive from Evanston. Home to over 50 rides, the park claims it has something for everyone. 

A day pass for Six Flags Great America costs $34.99, but look out for opportunities to go to the park for free throughout the year. In the past, Student Organizations & Activities and Wildcat Welcome have held fully funded trips to Six Flags. 

Honorable Mentions

Walker Brothers Pancake House

If you’re studying film or just interested in movies, you might recognize Walker Brothers Pancake House from the movie “Mean Girls.” When Cady wins Spring Fling Queen, she receives a gift certificate to this Chicago-area restaurant chain. The Wilmette location is on Green Bay Road, a short distance from NU’s campus. 

Home Alone House

If you’ve seen the classic film “Home Alone,” you’ll need to travel to Winnetka, where you can see the house where all the action takes place. You can’t tour the residence as it’s a private home, but today, 30 years after the film’s release, visitors continue to make the trip.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @oliviagalex

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