For many people, summer is their favorite season, especially here in the Winter-Never-Seems-to-End-Midwest. The first day of summer looms out there starting in about February, and some days it’s hard to believe that it will ever arrive (like on those days in May when it feels like November instead of spring). The first day of summer is also my birthday, so I kind of feel like it’s my spirit solstice. It’s the longest day of the year (and as a kid I actually thought my birthday had more hours in it—don’t laugh), and it’s the official kick-off to warm beach and pool days, cool nights and bonfires, and spending as much time as possible outside. At the end of a fun summer day, there’s nothing quite like watching a beautiful sunset with family and friends. Read on to find six places to watch the sun set in Lake County. Enjoy!
Where to Watch the Sunset in Lake County
Here are just a few spots for watching the sunset in Lake County, based on my experience as a life-long Lake County resident, along with input from a few of my adventurous local friends.
Chain O’Lakes, Fox Lake
In both Lake and McHenry counties, we are lucky to have an amazing concentration of natural lakes that are a nature and water lover’s dream. Chain O’Lakes State Park has seven picnic areas and four trail systems and is surrounded by three natural lakes AND the Fox River that connects the other seven lakes. That’s 10 lakes! The park also has a 44-acre lake within its boundaries. Whether you’re boating the chain, camping, or strolling around the park or any of the shorelines (eastern ones, preferably), you can catch an amazing view of the sunset from various locations. The options are almost limitless here!
Independence Grove, Libertyville
One of my favorite places to visit in the summer (or really anytime) is Independence Grove. It has so much to offer, from boating, hiking, a beach, bike riding, a giant playground, and an amazing summer concert series. The concert series is perfect for the whole family and the sunset provides the most magnificent backdrop to the music, as evidenced by this photo taken by my friend Katie.
Lake Charles Park, Vernon Hills
Located in Gregg’s Landing, Lake Charles Park is perfect for simple summer fun and recreation according to my friend Katie and her husband, Jeremy. You can fish off one of the piers, have a picnic, play at the playground with your kids, or take the walking path along the shore. It’s never very crowded, and there is easy parking along the street. When you’re done with your activities, stay to watch the sunset over the gorgeous lake view.
Prairie Crossing, Grayslake
Prairie Crossing is one of those places that surprises you, as it’s in a busy suburb but it is an acclaimed conservation community with open land, water, beautiful homes, and even art installations. My friends Chris and Allison just moved there and have already managed to capture the sunset on film multiple times. Take a stroll around the paths in Prairie Crossing, and check out the artwork, prairie land, and diverse wildlife before settling in to catch the sunset over the water.
Six Flags Great America, Gurnee
Yours truly grew up in “old” Gurnee, back when Great America was owned by Marriott and actually had free admission day for the less than 5,000 residents each year. I was a proud season pass holder for years and I can tell you from experience, there is nothing better than watching the sunset from atop a rollercoaster. Time it right and ride The American Eagle during the sunset and you won’t be disappointed. The ascent up the first peak puts you in prime view facing the western sky. And it just might keep your mind off the fact that you’re about to feel your stomach in your throat as you make the quick descent down that first drop. Goliath has good views, as does The Condor ride, which sits way up high near the entrance of the park. Or if you’d prefer to view it from a more comfortable spot, hop on the Sky Trek Tower and see the best view of Lake County at sunset (or at any time)!
Wadsworth Village Park, Wadsworth
My friend Ismael and childhood best friend, Sophia, live in the beautiful village of Wadsworth (north of Gurnee) and are big fans of watching the sunset atop the sledding hill at the Wadsworth Village Park all year round. Located next to the Village Office and just north of the Wadsworth Savanna Forest Preserve (with walking trails), this area represents small-town community living at its best. Add in the great view of the sunset, and it’s a perfect little gem. Before or after, be sure to stop at The Shanty for food and drinks. It’s a Lake County institution!
Your Very Own Yard
If all else fails, just look out the window while putting your kids to bed, or above the tree line in your backyard as you sit on your deck. In our busy lives, it’s pretty easy to take it for granted. I will end by quoting Jo Walton, an author I enjoy reading: “There’s a sunrise and a sunset every single day, and they’re absolutely free. Don’t miss so many of them.”
Where is your favorite spot in Lake County to watch a sunset? Let us know in the comments!
Just a clarification- all Lake County Forest Preserves close at sunset. The exception is concert nights at Independence Grove. So, a sunset can be viewed quickly, but possibly met with a speedy exit as the park is being closed.
Great clarification, Jennifer! Thank you!