Visiting the Genesee Theatre {Waukegan}

New to going to a performance at the Genesee Theatre in Waukegan? I think you will find it a welcome change from fighting traffic into and out of the city for a similar show. Here are some of my tips for your first-time visit to the Genesee Theatre.

Genesee Theatre
Photo courtesy of the Genesee Theatre

I am a Waukegan native and actually got to perform at the Genesee Theatre as a child. This beautiful theater closed in the 1990s and was renovated and reopened in 2004. It still has its old charm, but you’ll be in awe of the Grand Lobby and the crystal chandelier.

On a more practical note, the chairs are all new and comfy, parking is convenient, and there are plenty of yummy restaurants nearby.

Genesee Theatre

Types of Events Held at The Genesee Theatre

There are a wide variety of shows at the Genesee. In addition to music concerts, it hosts a lot of comedians (big names!), dance performances, and film series. I’ve seen Culture Club, Joel McHale, Jim Gaffigan, and Ladies of the ’80s (including Debbie Gibson) there. The Genesee offers shows for all ages, including children’s performances.

Genesee Theatre
Photo courtesy of the Genesee Theatre

Buying Tickets
The theater has two main sections: the main level (orchestra and pit) and the balcony (which includes the loge and mezzanine). Because the Genesee isn’t monstrous like some of the typical concert venues, you can see well even from the balcony seats.

Refreshments at The Genesee Theatre

For many of the events, wine, beer, snacks, and soft drinks are for sale as you enter. There are a couple of other bar areas in the lounges as well. Bonus: You can bring drinks into the theater for some performances.

Parking at The Genesee Theatre

A parking garage is located right across from the theater at 225 N. County St. for $10 (cash only). You may also find street parking—free after 5:00 p.m.; otherwise 50 cents per hour (coins only).

dining at near the genesee theatre

Dining Near the Genesee Theatre

If you don’t want to go far to eat, the following local restaurants are near the theatre:

  • 17 North Bar & Grill
    17 N. Genesee St., Waukegan | (847) 623-9463
    Serves burgers, wraps, salads, sandwiches, and has an extensive beer and wine list.
  • Green Town Tavern
    110 S. Genesee St., Waukegan | (847) 244-1001
    This tavern is named after what Ray Bradbury called Waukegan in his books… we are quite proud to be the hometown of this amazing author. Green Town has a wide variety of appetizers and salads. It also has burgers and sandwiches. Most interesting-sounding burger: The Wisconsin: bacon and peanut butter on a pretzel bun.

Noteworthy Waukegan Hot Spots
As a Waukegan native, I have some favorite restaurants here. They are not right downtown, but not far away.

  • Louie’s Restaurant
    1009 North Ave., Waukegan | (847) 244-0101
    Louie’s has THE best bread sticks anywhere. Also known for its pizza, Devil on Horseback sandwich, and chicken. I also LOVE its dinner salad with the house dressing. Note: They are closed on Mondays.
  • Quonset 
    2602 Grand Ave., Waukegan | (847) 623-7115
    Anyone from Waukegan who moves away and is visiting Waukegan makes time to return to Quonset. It has a simple menu but not much is needed. It has only thin crust pizza, but is it the best. Order more than you think you’ll eat. Quonset is also known for its bomber sandwiches.

Worth the Drive
Although these are in nearby Gurnee, they are a bit fancier.

  • The Chocolate Sanctuary
    1501 Washington St., Gurnee | (224) 944-0808
    If you are a chocolate fan, this is the place to go. Ribs braised in Pinot Noir and dark cocoa, cocoa-candied bacon…You have to check out their menu to believe it. Here’s Little Lake County’s review. Note: They are closed Mondays.
Photo courtesy of The Chocolate Sanctuary
  • Steven’s Steakhouse
    401 N. Riverside Dr., Gurnee | (847) 599-8533
    Steven’s has an extensive menu of seafood and, of course, steak dishes. Some menu items are whiskey ribs, bourbon cherry short rib, and pistachio perch. Note: They are closed Sundays.
  • Primo Italian American Cuisine 
    720 Milwaukee Ave., Gurnee | (847) 336-3446
    In addition to Italian dishes, there is a gluten-free menu, steaks, and fish on the menu.  Appetizers include short rib truffle arancini, grilled octopus, and stuffed meatballs.
Genesee Theatre
Photo courtesy of the Genesee Theatre

There are so many wonderful performances that come to the Genesee. It’s a Lake County site to check out! A great way to learn about what’s coming to the Genesee is to join its Facebook page.

What performance have you seen at the Genesee Theatre?

genesee theater

Genesee Theatre
203 N. Genesee St., Waukegan, IL 60085 | (847) 263-6300
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About Natalie Rompella 37 Articles
Natalie is the mom of two humans and one nonhuman. She is the author of more than forty books and resources for kids, was a teacher and a museum educator, and will always be a Lake County native. Natalie enjoys insects, sled dog racing (observing!), crafting/experimenting with her kids, and forming a world safe from peanuts. Find out more about her and her books at

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