Things to Do in Waukegan, Illinois
Programs and Events in Waukegan
The Waukegan Park District offers year-round family focused special events and programs to entertain and engage the entire community.
The year begins on New Year’s Day with the annual Polar Bear Plunge at the lakefront. The event attracts nearly 2,000 people with almost 400 plungers jumping into icy Lake Michigan. Sponsored by the City of Waukegan and the Chamber of Commerce, the event supports Special Recreation programs and athletes.
Eggstravaganza Trail, a free community event, held the Saturday before Easter, features the Easter Bunny and other bunny family members, all interacting with children and handing out goody filled eggs.
Two popular events are held on the first Saturday in June: the annual Fishing Derby at Bevier Park and the Ray Bradbury Dandelion Wine Fine Arts Festival in Bowen Park. The free Dandelion Wine Festival features art vendors and performances throughout the day.
The largest special event of the year, the American Independence Parade, occurs the Sunday before July 4. The popular parade travels Sheridan Road between Franklin Avenue and Bowen Park attracting nearly 100 entries and several thousand spectators.
On the first Friday in August, the Waukegan Park District and the City of Waukegan partner to present Touch A Truck and National Night Out. Children are encouraged to talk with the fire, police and other personnel, as well as experience the Fire and police vehicles, large trucks and heavy equipment on display.
Day of the Dead is a cultural celebration of families and ancestors complete with altars, face painting, traditional food and music.
Halloweenfest, attracts entire families who are in costume. They enjoy a series of haunted trails, free games, crafts, themed entertainment and rides.
The Waukegan Symphony Orchestra and Concert Chorus present several concerts throughout the year concluding with the Do It Yourself Messiah and Carol Sing Along held the third Saturday in December at the First United Methodist Church in Waukegan.
Golf and More
Bonnie Brook Golf Course is an 18-hole impeccably manicured, championship golf course and popular location for corporate golf outings and parties. The clubhouse hosts Tuesday nights, Chillin’ and Grillin’, Wednesday Night Dinners featuring comfort food, and Thursday’s Tacos and Tunes. Friday night fish buffets and last Sunday of the Month Brunches are popular; reservations are suggested. Celebrate Valentine’s Day, Easter and Mother’s Day at Bonnie Brook.
Call to make plans for your next special occasion, corporate meeting or holiday party in the updated dining room.
The Field House Sports, Fitness and Aquatics Center is a hub of activity for the community. The two-level fitness center overlooks beautiful Hinkston Park and boasts a large selection of strengthening, weight lifting and cardio equipment along with a suspended one-seventh mile walking/running track. The six-court gymnasium hosts volleyball and basketball play and leagues. The aquatics center features three pools, an eight-lane, 25-yard competition ready lap pool, a warm water hydrotherapy pool with resistance current and children’s pool and splash area. The competition pool is home to the Waukegan Dolphins Swim Team.
Several fitness events are held during the year. A spring tradition is the Go Waukegan walk that highlights how the simple act of walking 30 minutes each day can reduce the incidence of lifestyle-related diseases, such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Others include a mini- triathlon in the spring and in the fall, the George Bridges 5K Run/Walk and Turkey Trot.
Waukegan parks are vibrant natural spaces perfect for relaxation, gathering with friends and families, recreation and family outings. The district’s commitment to excellence is highlighted by the evolution of its parks. Construction has begun at Rose Park (formerly Belvidere Park) and will continue through 2019. Plans include a three-story playground and Splashtacular water play area, outdoor restrooms and concessions stand. Watch for the grand opening, expected in summer 2020.
Bowen Park’s gazebo in the formal garden was replaced in 2019, making it an ideal location for wedding and quinceanera photos. Work on King Park will begin in fall 2019 and completion is expected for early spring of 2020. A new shelter and restrooms, renovated ball diamond, additional playground equipment, basketball court, seating and landscaping are planned.
The Washington Park historic bandshell is home to a June music series and Veterans Plaza hosts Memorial and Veterans Day ceremonies. The oldest park in Waukegan, Roosevelt Park is a conservation success with its walkway through restored wetlands, permeable paver parking lot, and natural vegetation. It is designed to help clean Waukegan River water headed to Lake Michigan.
Waukegan’s Greg Petry Sports Park, with its premier soccer and baseball fields, and the Field House Sports Fitness and Aquatics Center, with its indoor sports courts and eight-lane lap pool, attract regional and national tournaments and competitions contributing approximately $15million annually to the local economy.