There are endless opportunities for fun in Waukegan! A wealth of natural and man-made recreational facilities provides residents and visitors with a wide variety of activities throughout the year.
During the summer months, Waukegan becomes a Midwestern recreational hub. Waukegan Municipal Beach, home to a half-mile of gorgeous white sand, is open from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The beach boasts the only remaining natural dunes in the area. Activities include volleyball, windsurfing, swimming, sunbathing, picnicking and live concerts.
Waukegan Harbor is the world’s freshwater Coho salmon capital. It is home to the Great Lakes’ finest fishing fleet and several fishing piers. Anglers land salmon, trout and perch at Waukegan Harbor. The harbor boasts a beautiful lakefront and marina with promenade and park, and it is located near the public swimming beach. There are many slips to accommodate any craft from sailboats to luxury cruisers. Additional harbor amenities include convenient parking, snack shops, dining, as well as bait and tackle shops, fish cleaning stations, full-service boat repair, maintenance and storage and a yacht club.The Waukegan Charter Boat Association, the oldest and largest charter boat fleet on Lake Michigan, has many professional sport fishing charter boat captains that offer world-class salmon fishing from April through November. All boats are equipped with the finest fishing tackle and electronic equipment for your fishing pleasure, comfort and safety.
Waukegan’s award-winning park district, established in 1916, is comprised of 47 properties and 720 acres of land. Park district facilities include the 18-hole Bonnie Brook and 9-hole Greenshire Golf Courses, the Belvidere Recreation Center, the Field House Sports and Fitness Center, the Jack Benny Center for the Arts, Ganster Pool, the Waukegan Skate Park, the Waukegan BMX Track and the new Waukegan SportsPark (opening soon). Neighborhood and community parks placed throughout the community contain serene natural spaces, picnic areas, playgrounds, basketball courts, walking trails and sports fields.
Youth, adult and senior programming connects residents and ranges in focus from nature, the environment and maintaining healthy behaviors to providing league and recreation team sports for basketball, baseball, volleyball, soccer, softball and football, as well as individual sports and fitness programs including tennis, martial arts, gymnastics swimming, group fitness and track and field. Special programs for youth include summer camps, after school programs, preschool enrichment programs, babysitting classes, teen activities, cooking, holiday adventures and craft and nature clubs, among others. Trips to area and regional attractions provide carefree traveling and memorable experiences for hundreds of adults and seniors each year.
The Waukegan Park District Cultural Arts Program offers lessons throughout the year in music, dance and art. Located in Bowen Park, the Jack Benny Center for the Arts is home to the Bowen Park Theatre Company, Theatre for Young Audiences and the Waukegan Symphony Orchestra and Concert Chorus. In the summer, Bowen Park is the site for a number of free outdoor cultural activities. The B©˜ monthly blues concerts invite young and old to relax on the lawn and enjoy the music. The weekly Summer H*E*A*T (History Environment Art & Tales) Program entices many children who are already enjoying everything from the world-class Bowen Park Playground to a short, hands-on, interactive activity where they may play a dulcimer, pet a caterpillar or listen to a favorite tale. The monthly outdoor Movies in the Park series appeals to the whole family and includes a film from the International Latino Film Festival. Also located in Bowen Park, the Waukegan History Museum’s permanent exhibit portrays life in Waukegan during the 1870s. The museum also presents annual rotating exhibits and history-related programs.
Annual special events sponsored by the Waukegan Park District are designed to delight people of all ages. Community favorites include the Polar Bear Plunge, Dandelion Wine Fine Arts Festival, Fishing Derby, American Independence Parade and Festival, Halloweenfest and Turkey Trot.
Bonnie Brook Golf Clubhouse is a perfect location to celebrate special occasions. Both the outdoor patio and newly remodeled dining room feature stunning views of the golf course. The dining room specializes in weddings, business meetings, receptions, luncheons, banquets, golf outings and quinceaneras.
Individuals with disabilities or special needs can participate in a number of recreational activities through the Special Recreation Services of Northern Lake County (SRSNLC). A Very Special Arts Fair, weekly bowling, Special Olympics sports (track and field, bowling, bocce, basketball and softball), dance nights, social clubs, dinner excursions and movie trips are just some of the activities provided by SRSNLC throughout the year.
Connect with the outdoors in Waukegan’s spectacular parks and playgrounds. Play a round of golf at Bonnie Brook or Greenshire golf courses. Get fit or participate in a favorite indoor team sport at the Field House Sports & Fitness Center. Explore the new SportsPark (opening soon) and cheer on your favorite local baseball, soccer or football team. Discover the Waukegan Park District and experience for yourself the exceptional leisure and recreational experiences offered by its staff, facilities and programs.
The Northern Lake Family YMCA houses an indoor pool, racquetball courts, gymnasium, fitness center and indoor track, and it offers a variety of fitness programs for children, teens and adults.
A senior citizens recreation center, Park Place, has craft workshops, games, dance classes and many other programs for Waukegan residents. The city also features two local flying clubs that operate out of Waukegan Regional Airport, the Waukegan Wings and the Stick and Rudder Club, one of the largest and oldest flying clubs in the U.S.
Waukegan is a veritable golfer’s paradise with three professional golf courses right in its own backyard. The Midlane Golf Resort, a public facility located at Hawthorne Suites, boasts a par 72, 18-hole course amidst the backdrop of one of Waukegan’s newest housing developments. Greenshire Golf Course, located on the north side of Waukegan, offers the novice to the most accomplished golfer a challenge. It is a 9-hole, par 27 course, and one of Lake County’s best-kept secrets. Bonnie Brook is an 18-hole, par 72 course on rolling, wooded terrain. It is renowned for its beauty and is consistently ranked as one of the top 50 public golf courses in Chicagoland.
Outdoor adventurers enjoy bicycle riding on the North Shore trail system that stretches from Wisconsin to Chicago. It offers some of the nation’s most breathtaking scenery year-round. Also nearby are horseback riding, skiing and ice-skating facilities. The park district features a skate park located on the former site of the Whyte Pool in Bowen Park. Featuring 2,000 square feet of skateable surface, the park has an elevated launch deck, vertical wall, fun boxes with a grinding wall and ledge and grinding rails.
For more outdoor fun, Illinois Beach State Park on Lake Michigan in Zion presents a more subdued change of pace, with swimming, camping, hiking and natural wonders.
For those who prefer to exercise their minds, the Waukegan Public Library lays claim to having one of the largest collections in Lake County with more than 226,000 books, 19,000 videos and DVDs, 11,000 CDs and cassettes and more. There are 73 computer terminals with Internet access, word processing, games and educational software available for public use. The library hosts a variety of special interest and cultural events programs throughout the year as well, from reading clubs for children to adult literacy programs. The library has two bookmobiles and a satellite branch in the park district Field House at Hinkston Park.
Whether one fancies the great outdoors, head-to-head sports competitions or quiet retreats, he or she will discover a recreational resource in Waukegan that is sure to delight.