From nature trails to the arts, there’s a lot to explore in Lake County
Lake County is located in northeastern Illinois, with Lake Michigan to the east, Wisconsin to the north, and the City of Chicago to the south. You’ll find there’s an exciting range of year-round activities for seniors in Lake County. Plus, many activities are free, low-cost, or offer great senior discounts.
We’ve hand-picked a selection of fun activities that are fun, accessible, and affordable for seniors, older adults, families, and people of all ages. Let's jump right in and explore all that Lake County has to offer.
Activities for seniors in Lake County
Find your next adventure at Lake County Forest Preserves
The 31,000 acres that comprise Lake County Forest Preserves are packed with activities for you to enjoy! Admission is free. You can explore more than 208 miles of trails for a variety of recreational activities, including:
- Hiking Trails: Take a scenic stroll and embrace the opportunity to snap a few pictures. The website offers status updates on accessibility and maps for each trail.
- Dog Parks: Treat your furry friend to an open space where they can exercise, play, swim and socialize off-leash. For access to all five dog parks you can obtain a daily permit ranging from $15-$30.
- Golf Courses: Challenge a friend to a game of golf in one of three fun golf courses. All you need to do is reserve a tee time that works best for you.
- Fishing: You can enjoy fishing from a number of different piers, even ice fishing. Keep in mind that you need a fishing license in Illinois. The cost of a license for seniors ages 65 to 74 is $7.75. For people aged 75 and older it’s $1.50. (There are a couple of exceptions for state residents. For example, people who can show proof of disability are exempt from licensing requirements.)
- Birdwatching: Grab your camera to capture the many resident and migrant birds.
- Concerts: Enjoy some live music in the plaza all year round.
If you’d like to learn more about the nature and history of these grounds, check out the free senior series programs in the event calendar. If you’d like to get involved in the preservation of the area, you can volunteer in a variety of settings.
Expand your curiosity at one of Lake County’s Museums
Take a journey to Lake County’s prehistoric beginnings and all the way to the entwined stories of its first people by visiting the exhibits in the Dunn Museum. We recommend planning your visit on the first and third Thursday of every month to enjoy free admission from 5 to 8 pm.
Learn more about Lake County’s rich history by visiting Grayslake Heritage Center. Admission is free. You’ll also find a number of activities for seniors that offer the opportunity to immerse yourself in the community.
Take a tour through one of Lake County’s oldest structures, the Mother Rudd House and Museum. This original 1844 building was a safe haven for the Underground Railroad. It was completely restored by the Village of Gurnee.
You can also visit the National Museum of the American Sailor and learn the storied history of our proud service men and women at sea.
Experience Lake County festivals
Take a walk down memory lane in Zion where you can attend the Annual Nostalgia Days Festival in late June. Enjoy free admission, as well as a custom car show, carnival, and live music.
Attend one of Long Grove’s famous festivals like Chocolate Fest, Strawberry Fest, Apple Fest, Irish Days or Vintage Days. There is something for everyone and admission is free or no more than $5.
Do some shopping and support local vendors
Who doesn’t love a good farmer’s market where you can buy fresh and organic produce? You can find locally-grown fruits and veggies that are in season at the many community farmers markets Lake County has to offer. It’s a great place for neighbors, family, and friends to enjoy time together. You can search for smaller markets by city, including Highland Park, Highwood, Lake Forest, McHenry, Park City, Waukegan, and Zion.
If you are an avid thrifter, you’ll love the opportunity to go antique shopping in the area. You can scour through a variety of antiques, collectibles, and other cool finds at the Volo Antique Mall.
Reclaimed Artisans Inc. also holds treasures under $10 to decorate your home and space. They specialize in handmade and repurposed furniture, as well as other vintage items.
Take a road trip or go stargazing
As the Tom Cochrane song says, “Life is a highway.” Many will recognize the famous song, later performed by the band Rascal Flatts, which inspires a good road trip every time it comes on. In Lake County, you can listen to your favorite playlist by going on a road trip adventure through Route 21 & 45, Route 83, Route 41, Sheridan Road/Points North and All Points: Des Plaines River Trail.
On your journey, you might also want to stop by these top five stargazing locations. You’ll be mesmerized by the amount of constellations you can see. Don’t forget to wish upon a star.
Experience local talent and art
Catch one of the six yearly plays or musicals available at the PM&L Theatre in downtown Antioch. This theatre has been offering opportunities to local actors and actresses for more than 50 years. Admission is only $10.
You can also experience local musicians at the James Lumber Center for the Performing Arts, where the College of Lake County’s Wind Symphony and Choir performs three to four concerts a year.
In downtown Waukegan, on every third Saturday of the month, you can walk down the historic Genesee Street and enjoy a number of galleries with classic and modern art. Artwauk is a wonderful event that brings together the community in a celebration locals like to call the monthly explosion of the arts.
Lastly, movie lovers can catch a flick at Gurnee Mill’s Marcus Theatre. The best part is every Tuesday they offer discounted movie tickets for just $5.
Don’t forget to ask about discounts
Lake County has many senior discount opportunities! Here’s a list of discounts in the area for different spots, such as restaurants, retail stores, grocery stores, and travel.
Always remember: If there are admission fees, find out if there is a free day for seniors. You might be surprised by how many amazing activities for seniors offer free days in Lake County. And, if you’re a veteran, be sure to ask about discounts for veterans as well.
Home-based activities for seniors in Lake County
In addition to all the beautiful activities for seniors in Lake County, you can also enjoy time at home. Arts and crafts is one of the many fun activities you can do at home.
Get started with these great art activities for seniors that you can make with things you already have around the house. Another great place to find cheap crafting supplies is at thrift stores. You can also look for free craft supplies in local Buy Nothing groups. Lastly, the neighborhood dollar store may offer materials for painting on canvas, stitch art, or even pottery.
Have fun decorating your home
You can also do more practical arts and crafts, such as "flipping" items in your home. Do you have a lamp that you’d like to spruce up? Paint it a different color, then head to your nearest thrift store and look for a funky lamp shade that will fit. Doing this will give new life to your lamp!
You can also grab some different sized frames and make a fun collage on your wall, fill it with pictures of family/friends or artistic shots of places you’d love to visit.
Decorating your home is a wonderful creative outlet. It's also a way to make your home an even more enjoyable place to spend time in. Your home space should bring inspiration to your life.
Try something new this season
Lake County can get snowy during a portion of the year. There are a number of ways to invigorate your mind and keep your body active at home.
- Is there a birthday coming up for a loved one? Challenge yourself to a baking recipe and make them a cake of their favorite flavor.
- Do you have a favorite window you always love to sit by because of its mesmerizing view? Capture it by painting it on canvas. Don’t feel intimidated by trying an activity you’ve never done. If you mess up, make it an abstract painting. Like Bob Ross always said “We don't make mistakes, just happy little accidents.”
- You can also spend time at home by learning a new language or even joining a local book club. Here’s a site that’s great to find book clubs and virtual events near you.
- If you want to keep active at home with some exercise, start with these options for gentle exercises for seniors. Then, ask at your local community center or senior center about free or low-cost classes.
Work with seniors in Lake County
If working with seniors, older adults, and families in Lake County sounds good to you, consider becoming a Papa Pal.
Papa Pals are part-time companion caregivers who set their own flexible schedules. They focus on companionship and doing things together with Papa members.
Papa Pals help others in the community by offering support with a range of tasks and activities, including help with errands, house tasks, basic technology, car rides, pet care, and light exercise. No experience is required and you can put your life experience to good use while helping others. It's a great job for kind, friendly, and reliable people.
Start your application to become a Papa Pal here.