From lighthouses to gardens, Evanston offers picturesque, natural hidden gems


Rachel Schlueter/The Daily Northwestern

The Grosse Point Lighthouse is an iconic north Evanston landmark that turns 150 this year.

Rachel Schlueter, Reporter

Evanston is home to a variety of scenic green spaces and natural landmarks. The warm spring weather is reason enough to explore all corners of the community in search of its hidden gems. Here are just a few of them.


Dawes Park

Located at 1700 Sheridan Road, Dawes Park is 10 minutes by foot from Northwestern’s South Campus. It features a paved walkway that runs right along Lake Michigan, and visitors can access Clark Street Beach and the Evanston Dog Beach through it. The park’s abundant green space and numerous picnic tables makes it the ultimate spring picnic spot. 

Arrington Lagoon is in the heart of the park. The pond features two gushing fountains in the middle and is home to groups of ducks. There is also a stone perimeter around the pond, perfect for sitting. 

The lagoon is named after former Illinois state Sen. W. Russell Arrington, who played a key role in securing state approval for NU to extend its campus onto the Lakefill. 

Ecology Center

The Evanston Ecology Center is a facility dedicated to educating the community about the environment. The center, located at 2024 N. McCormick Blvd., is situated in the Ladd Arboretum, which stretches for 17.3 acres.

The Evanston Ecology Center features a paved bike and walking path, an indoor nature classroom and a large multipurpose room. From January through April, the center is home to the Indoor Farmers’ Market.

Merrick Rose Garden

The Merrick Rose Garden is a luscious green space located at 1426 Oak Ave. The garden is lined with rose beds, and, according to the city, there are hundreds of flower varieties in the garden. Each year, the All American Rose Selections donates new rose varieties for the garden to display before they are available for retail consumption. The roses are in bloom between May and October.

There is also a rectangular grass lawn at the center of the garden, which leads up to the Centennial Fountain. The fountain, a dark turquoise with white birds along each tier, has stood since 1876. 

The fountain was originally placed at the intersection of Orrington and Sherman avenues and Davis Street, an area known as Fountain Square. In 1950, the Centennial Fountain was restored after being put into storage four years earlier, and moved to the Merrick Rose Garden. It now stands as a part of Evanston history. 

International Friendship Garden

The Rotary Club of Evanston created the blossoming International Friendship Garden as a symbol of good will toward all. Located on the corner of North McCormick Boulevard and Bridge Street, the garden is part of the Ladd Arboretum and includes a large circular flower bed. The flowers are lined like a spoked wheel, an ode to the Rotary logo, and are surrounded by benches. According to the Rotary Club, each of the 22 benches honors a deceased Rotary member.

A rectangular grassy field with large, shady trees and paved walking paths is just past the flower garden. According to the Rotary Club, the International Friendship Garden is dedicated to serenity and understanding. 

Grosse Point Lighthouse

The Grosse Point Lighthouse, a North Evanston landmark, turns 150 this year. Located at 2601 Sheridan Road, the lighthouse was built in 1873 to mark the route to Chicago.

According to the lighthouse website, it was needed due to the increase in trade ships during the late 19th century. The building was a signal to help navigate the shallow waters along the Lake Michigan coastline.

Now, the Grosse Point Lighthouse stands as an important symbol of Chicago history. Visitors can enter its interpretive center on weekends from June through September from 2-4 p.m. Visitors over the age of 8 can also climb to the light tower. The lighthouse also overlooks Lighthouse Beach and a gorgeous view of Lake Michigan.

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