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20 Best Things To Do in Northbrook, IL

Northbrook, IL is a bustling suburb located just north of Chicago. With its close proximity to the city, Northbrook offers various activities for all ages and interests. From outdoor activities to shopping and dining, this community has something for everyone.

Whether you’re looking for an adventure or just some relaxation, there are plenty of things to do in Northbrook that will keep you entertained and having fun.

1. Chicago Botanic Garden

The Chicago Botanic Garden is a 385-acre public garden that features 27 spectacular gardens, four natural areas, Greenhouses, and a Catalog House. The garden has more than 2.5 million plants and displays, including rare and endangered species from around the world. 

Apart from its stunning gardens, it also offers educational programs for kids and adults alike on topics such as botany, ecology, horticulture, conservation biology, plant science, and much more! 

Additionally, there are numerous events held throughout the year such as art exhibitions or concerts to enjoy during your visit!

Chicago Botanic Garden

2. Kohl Children’s Museum

Kohl Children’s Museum is a hands-on, interactive museum dedicated to helping children up to age 8 learn through play. It features more than 12 permanent exhibits designed to engage the minds and imaginations of young visitors. 

Exhibits explore topics such as nature, music, art, and health. The museum also offers educational programs in which kids can participate in activities like story time and science experiments. The museum hosts special events throughout the year that are fun for the whole family.

Kohl Children’s Museum

3. Skokie Lagoons

Skokie Lagoons is a 300-acre nature preserve that consists of five interconnected lagoons and a marsh, which are connected by streams and canals. 

The area is home to over 200 species of birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals. The lagoons also provide recreational activities such as fishing, canoeing, and kayaking for visitors to enjoy. There are several trails that run through the preserve allowing visitors to take in the beautiful scenery or watch wildlife from a distance. 

There is also an observation deck overlooking the marsh where people can observe various waterfowl species up close.

4. John Hughes Movie Locations

John Hughes High School: Exterior of the building that served as the fictional Shermer High School in The Breakfast Club [1] and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. These films were filmed at New Trier West High School in Northbrook, IL.

John Hughes Movie Location

Burger King: In Sixteen Candles, Molly Ringwald works at a Burger King located near the fictional Shermer High School (New Trier West). This location was actually a former Long John Silver’s restaurant on Dundee Road in Northbrook, IL. 

Pizza Place: The pizza place where Anthony Michael Hall tries to buy beer for his friends in Sixteen Candles is located on Techny Road near Waukegan Road in Northbrook, IL. It is now an Italian restaurant called La Strada Ristorante & Pizzeria 

Mall Parking Lot: The mall parking lot where Iona drives her car into a fountain and loses her panties while trying to impress Jake Ryan with her driving skills is the then-Northbrook Court Shopping Center located north of Willow Road and east of Skokie Boulevard in Northbrook, IL (now known as Village Green of Northbrook).

5. Downtown Northbrook

Downtown Northbrook is a vibrant and charming community located in the northern suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. 

Downtown Northbrook

It features an eclectic array of stores, restaurants, and pubs that are sure to please all tastes. Visitors can enjoy shopping at high-end boutiques, browsing through art galleries, or exploring specialty shops for unique gifts. 

There’s a great selection of outdoor activities too, including biking along the scenic North Branch Trail or playing at one of the many parks. Plus, there are plenty of events throughout the year such as farmers’ markets and festivals that bring people together for fun times. 

No matter what you’re looking for on a day out downtown Northbrook has something to offer!

Skokie Lagoon

6. Northbrook Historical Society and Museum

The Northbrook Historical Society and Museum is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the history of Northbrook, Illinois. 

Founded in 1975, it currently operates out of the historic Charles Gorton House located at 1776 Walters Avenue. The museum contains a variety of artifacts from early settlers, local businesses, and institutions that have shaped the village over its more than 200-year history. 

Visitors can explore exhibits on topics such as early industry, transportation networks, and natural resources along with displays featuring vintage photographs, postcards, and documents. The museum also hosts special events throughout the year including lectures, concerts, and educational programs for all ages.

Wood Oaks Green Park

7. Wood Oaks Green Park

Wood Oaks Green Park is a beautiful park that offers a variety of recreational activities including tennis courts, basketball courts, a playground area with swings and slides, and plenty of open space for walking or running. 

There is also an amphitheater for outdoor performances as well as picnic areas throughout the park. Wood Oaks Green Park is also surrounded by lush trees that provide shade from the sun during hot summer days. 

The park provides many opportunities to get active outdoors while enjoying the scenery of nature in an urban setting.

Techny Prairie Park and Fields

8. Techny Prairie Park and Fields

Techny Prairie Park and Fields is a recreational area consisting of over 320 acres of diverse ecosystems and topography including native grasslands, woodlands, wetlands, and prairies. 

There are also two scenic lakes: Lake Techny and the North Branch of the Chicago River. Visitors can enjoy a wide range of activities such as picnicking, fishing, hiking trails, and bird watching at the park’s nature center. 

The park also features soccer fields for competitive play; basketball courts for pick-up games; a disc golf course; playgrounds; sand volleyball courts; softball diamonds with lights for night games; batting cages and more. Techny Prairie Park is open year-round from sunrise to sunset each day so visitors can come out to enjoy the outdoors whenever they please!

Nickel City

9. Nickel City

Nickel City is a family-friendly amusement center that features over 25 different attractions, including batting cages, go-karts, mini golf, and an arcade with over 100 games. 

The facility also offers a snack bar and party packages for special occasions. Nickel City is open all year round and provides hours of fun for people of all ages.

10. Northbrook Court

Northbrook Court is an upscale indoor shopping mall that features more than 140 stores and restaurants spread out over 1.4 million square feet of retail space, making it one of the largest malls in the Chicago area. 

Stores include major retailers like Macy’s, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, and Bloomingdale’s, as well as a variety of specialty stores like Apple Store, Applebee’s Grill & Bar, and Coach Factory Outlet. 

Northbrook Court

The mall also boasts a 16-screen AMC Theater for moviegoers and a number of popular dining options from fast food to sit-down restaurants like Pinstripes Bistro & Bowling Alley. Northbrook Court also hosts events throughout the year such as holiday celebrations and kids’ activities so there’s always something going on at this vibrant shopping destination!

11. Des Plaines River Trail

The Des Plaines River Trail in Northbrook, IL is a 3.2-mile-long paved pathway located along the banks of the Des Plaines River. This trail begins at Techny Road and travels south through beautiful forested areas, wetlands, and open farmland. 

It passes through several parks and provides access to many recreational activities such as fishing, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, biking, and birdwatching. 

Des Plaines

The trail also connects with other nearby trails including the North Branch Trail which runs from Illinois to Wisconsin. The majority of this pathway follows an off-road alignment offering users a peaceful escape from busy city life while enjoying nature’s beauty along its path.

12. Somme Preserves

Somme Preserves is a nature preserve that covers over 200 acres of open space with forests, wetlands, and prairie. 

The preserve offers a variety of activities such as fishing in the lake and creek, bird watching, and hiking on the trails and boardwalks through the wetlands or along Lake Somme. 

There are also picnic areas available for visitors to enjoy their time outdoors. Additionally, there are educational programs offered throughout the year that focus on natural history topics like geology and ecology.

Somme Woods

13. North Branch Trail

The North Branch Trail is a 15-mile-long multi-use trail that follows the north branch of the Chicago River and passes through several forest preserves and parks. 

Along the way, visitors can enjoy scenic views of wetlands and wildlife, as well as access to local recreational activities such as fishing, biking, and hiking. 

There are also several picnic areas along the path that provide a great place to relax or have lunch. The trail is open year-round for use by walkers, runners, cyclists, horseback riders, and rollerbladers.

14. Meadowhill Park

Meadowhill Park is a public park that features a playground and picnic area, as well as open grassy areas perfect for playing catch or just enjoying the outdoors. 

Meadowhill park Illinois

The park also has several walking trails winding through the wooded area, with benches placed along them so visitors can take a break and enjoy nature’s beauty. 

There is also an accessible fishing pier, which offers great opportunities to catch some fish or just take in the views of nearby Lake Michigan. Finally, Meadowhill Park is home to several sports fields and courts that are used by local teams throughout the year.

15. Ravinia Festival

Ravinia Festival is a music festival that takes place every summer in Northbrook, Illinois. It is the oldest outdoor music festival in North America and has been running since 1904. 

The event features performances from some of the most renowned musicians and orchestras from around the world, ranging from classical to pop to jazz music. 

Ravinia Festival

There are also family-friendly activities such as picnics, games, and educational programs for children. The grounds also feature many different dining options as well as boutiques and shops selling artwork, jewelry, clothing, and more.

16. Northbrook History Museum

The Northbrook History Museum is dedicated to preserving, interpreting, and exhibiting the history of the North Shore from prehistoric times to the present. 

The museum has an extensive collection of artifacts, photographs, and documents that tell stories about the people and places that have shaped this region over time. 

Visitors can explore permanent exhibitions on topics such as Native Americans, early settlers, and industry; or attend special programs such as lectures, workshops, and exhibits. The museum also offers educational opportunities for students of all ages through its school tours program.

17. Heritage Oaks Golf Club

Heritage Oaks Golf Club is an 18-hole public golf course that features 6,603 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 71. 

The course rating is 71.2 and it has a slope rating of 129 on Blue grass. It provides four sets of tees to challenge all levels of golfers and features scenic views, various water hazards, and well-placed bunkers strategically located throughout the course design. 

Heritage Oaks also offers practice facilities including a driving range with target greens and putting green as well as PGA instruction available for individual or group lessons.

18. Northbrook Sports Center

Northbrook Sports Center is a premier sports and entertainment complex that features an indoor soccer field, four basketball courts, two sand volleyball courts, a mini-golf course, an indoor batting cage, and a driving range as well as an 18-hole miniature golf course. 

The facility also offers a wide variety of special events including birthday parties and corporate team-building activities. Additionally, there are two full-service restaurants on site offering concessions to hungry visitors of all ages.

Heritage Oaks Golf Club illinois

19. Ed Rudolph Velodrome

Ed Rudolph Velodrome is a 333-meter outdoor concrete cycling track that is the only velodrome in the Midwest and one of only a handful of outdoor velodromes in the United States. 

The track was built by Ed Rudolph, an avid cyclist who wanted to create a place for cyclists to practice and race safely. The velodrome features banked corners that allow riders to reach high speeds on their bikes while maintaining control. 

The velodrome hosts local, regional, and national events throughout the year, including USA Cycling’s National Racing Calendar (NRC). In addition to racing events, Ed Rudolph Velodrome also offers open riding times for cyclists of all levels as well as bike clinics for those new to cycling or looking to improve their skills on the track.

Ed Rudolph Velodrome illinois

20. Green Park and River Walk

Green Park and River Walk is a scenic park that has over 18 acres of lush green space with winding paths that lead to the beautiful Des Plaines River. 

There are many amenities available at Green Park and River Walk including a fishing pier, picnic areas, playgrounds, and plenty of open space for running or leisurely walks. 

Green Park and River Walk illinois

There is also an observation deck that overlooks the river giving visitors a great view of the area. With its abundance of natural beauty, Green Park and River Walk provides visitors with an ideal spot to spend time outdoors while enjoying some fresh air.


There’s no shortage of things to do in Northbrook, IL. Whether you’re looking for an adrenaline-filled adventure or simply want some relaxation time with friends and family, there are plenty of options when it comes to entertainment in this vibrant suburb.

With its close proximity to the city center and many attractions nearby, Northbrook offers something different every time you visit—making it the perfect destination for your next getaway!

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