With craft cocktail bars, breweries, music festivals, and more, these towns are true suburban hotspots.
We get it — nightlife isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the suburbs. But if you aren’t ready to give up live music, amazing meals, and epic mixology experiences, these communities are for you.
Live for an amazing night out?
The Chicago suburbs are big on music festivals. Get ready to jam out at the Out of Space concert series at the 100-year-old Canal Shores Golf Course in Evanston. Line up with locals at the food trucks and beer carts while you wait to hear live music. This festival draws huge acts like Ben Harper, Emmylou Harris, and The Indigo Girls.
The Winnetka Music Fest also hosts big names including Moon Taxi and Allen Stone. With local food vendors, beer tents, and tons of music lovers dancing into the night this really feels just like a city street festival.
If you’re considering Highwood, don’t let the size fool you. This small suburb goes all out on entertainment. Locals look forward to the Taco Fest & Highwood Days celebration each summer. This multi-day event includes carnival rides, a 5K road race, live music, cocktails, and, of course, tons of delicious tacos. But the fun doesn’t stop there. In October, the Highwood Pumpkin Festival brings the community together again for live music, carnival rides, and festive pumpkin carving.
Highland Park’s outdoor music festival Ravinia attracts both locals and visitors for more than 100 summer concerts. No matter what you like to get down to — from jazz to hip-hop to classical — there’s a show for you. Be sure to bring chairs and pack a picnic to really get the local experience.
In Naperville, RibFest is the live music event of the summer. In between sets you can enjoy mouth-watering BBQ from nationally-recognized pitmasters. And when you do head to Glencoe, check out the 2022 Glencoe Live lineup. O.A.R. and The Samples helped Glencoe locals dance the night away in 2021.
Crave an amazing local brew?
Does your ideal night out include a stop at a brewery or two? Add Evanston to your list. You’ll find some excellent craft beer in this ‘burb. Sketchbook Brewing Co. is a welcoming neighborhood hotspot complete with 12 beers on draft, live music nights, and a weekday happy hour. Double Clutch is another Evanston favorite serving German-style brews made with Lake Michigan water. This beer hall hosts trivia, bingo, and live music throughout the week.
Temperance Beer Co., Evanston’s first brewery, is still going strong. Not only do locals love this spot for its unique brews (like a cocktail-inspired milkshake IPA) and beer garden but this brewery also hosts an outdoor concert series each summer. It’s a city-sized event featuring food trucks and big names like Big Boi from Outkast, Liz Phair, Toots and the Maytals, and George Clinton.
Beer on Central is another Evanston institution. Although it’s not a brewery, this small bar offers an impressive selection of craft brews served by a team of friendly and knowledgeable staff. Insider tip — many commuters get off the train and pop in for a beer on their way home. If you move to town it’s a great spot to connect with your new neighbors.
Can’t get enough craft cocktails?
In the mood for a mixed drink? Start your night in Evanston. This town sits just 15 miles north of Chicago but residents don’t have to hop on the train to get to a top-notch cocktail bar. In town, there’s neighborhood favorite Ward 8. Locals come here for classic drinks — like Manhattans, Negronis, and French 75s.
Another great spot in town is The Graduate Hotel’s Homestead Room. This cozy, old-school-inspired lounge serves wine, beer, and a unique menu of John Hughes movie-themed cocktails, including The Wet Bandits and Happy Birthday Samantha.
If you’re exploring Winnetka, Spirit Elephant is the place to relax with a drink. This airy, plant-filled space serves an entirely vegan menu. The cocktail includes a variety of “fan-favorites” like the Spirit Margarita and Elephant in the Room plus some seasonal offerings like the Smoky Owl made with mezcal and a pomegranate cranberry shrub. Want a bite to eat? Pair your cocktail with a fig flatbread or another of their plant-based shareable.
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