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The scenic city of Lake Forest is situated in Lake County, Illinois, along the shore of Lake Michigan about 35 miles south of Chicago. There is plenty for seniors to do, from visiting the city’s various bars and restaurants to checking out its natural beauty and the beach.
Lake Forest is quite an affluent city that has very low crime rates and some very tightly knit communities, all of which makes it a very safe place to retire, either by yourself or with your family.
In This Article
Lake Forest History
Before being founded in 1900, Lake Forest was inhabited by the Pottawatomi (a native American people present in the United States and Canada) until 1836, when the U.S. federal government ordered them to leave as part of its broader Indian Removal campaign.
Just over two decades later, the area underwent its first wave of development, with roads being laid to improve transport links to and from the town.
In the late 1800s, country clubs were regularly frequented and one of the most popular ways to spend a weekend or evening. One club, in particular, the Onwentsia Club, was “the premiere social and sporting club in the Midwest” at the time, according to a writer.
The town became the subject of national media attention in 1992 following the local government’s move to ban the sale of “offensive” music to persons under the age of 18.
Transportation: Getting Around Lake Forest
Good transport links, both within the city and to other towns and attractions in the state, are of utmost importance and should be carefully looked at when considering relocating to an area. Lake Forest has no shortage of ways to get about the town and reach other parts of Illinois.
The Metra Electric District line of Chicago
Lake Forest Station forms part of Metra’s Milwaukee District/North Line, with outbound trains departing on platform one and inbound trains arriving on platform 2. The station’s address is 10205 North Waukegan Road and is in Zone F in Metra’s zone-based fare system.
There is another station along the Union Pacific/North Line to the east of the station, which is often referred to as West Lake Forest Station. As the trains aren’t on the same line, you can’t travel from one to the other via a train, and there isn’t a direct bus linkage, but there is nearby parking.
The city has numerous bus stops and bus routes which serve the town on weekdays and weekends. The RTA’s number 64 Lake Forest Express stretches from Duncan Plaza in New Orleans Michoud at Expedition, near the waterfront.
Taxis and Uber Rides
Lake Forest is served by various conventional small taxi firms which can either be booked in advance or found at taxi ranks. You can also transverse the town and the surrounding areas by booking an Uber ride via the app on your smartphone, which will work out cheaper in many cases. However, as the city is quite a small town (with a population of just under 20,000 according to the 2010 census), the Uber coverage here isn’t as extensive and concentrated as in major US cities.
If you can drive and own a vehicle, you should have no problem getting around the community and the surrounding area. The town has access to the Interstate Highway via the Tri-State Tollway (I-94), while the Skokie Highway (U.S. Highway 41) bisects Lake Forest.
The scenic suburbs to the west can be accessed through Illinois Route 60.
Shopping in Lake Forest
The city of Lake Forest is home to a great selection of stores, including thrift stores such as Forest and Found, and a branch of department store Target. There is an Evereve women’s clothing store at 248 Market Square and a bookstore, simply named Lake Forest Book Store, on 662 North Western Avenue.
If you prefer to shop at a mall, as it is more convenient to have everything you’re looking for under one roof, then you can check out Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills, which is just a short drive from town.
Hawthorn Mall houses dozens of clothing stores, jewelers, restaurants, and much more. It features an AT&T store, a Cinnabon outlet, a Foot Locker store, and a branch of Kay Jewelers.
Dining in Lake Forest
If you fancy going for a meal, Lake Forest has plenty of different restaurants and fast food branches to cater to your requirements. Some even offer senior deals, either as a percentage discount off the bill or a freebie.
Into Italian cuisine? Check out Francesca’s Intimo on 293 East Illinois Road for some authentic Italian pizza and pasta. Or, if you prefer Mexican, Authentico on 770 North Western Avenue is a brilliant option.
As for fine dining, there is plenty to choose from, including The English Room on 255 East Illinois Road, which is vegetarian friendly and has a number of vegan dishes to suit all dietary requirements.
On the other end of the budget spectrum, there are many fast-food restaurants in and around Lake Forest, including a McDonald’s, a Macy’s and a Taco Bell, all in Hawthorn Mall in Vernon Hills.
There are about 270 different restaurants and fast food locations in the Lake Forest area, according to Yelp, so you will have plenty of variety.
Other Things to do
There are a lot of things to do in Lake Forest, from going for a picnic in one of many of the area’s picturesque fields and areas of natural beauty to visiting the Wildlife Discovery Center.
Most of Lake Forest’s attractions are centered around the area’s natural beauty.
The Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve is an especially popular attraction, with many locals and visitors flocking there to check out the fantastic views. Landscape designer O.C designed it. Simonds around a century ago and the beautiful preserve is one of just a handful of places that offers free access to Lake Michigan.
The Middlefork Savanna Forest Preserve is another great area of natural beatify to visit and take a hike. You are sure to enjoy checking out this preserve by yourself or taking your dog for a long walk here!
Lake Forest’s Prairie Wolf Dog Park is the ideal place to take your dog for a run-about, as it has 44 acres of space for dogs to run about in off-leash.
Lake Forest Area Theaters
The Center Stage theater is a brilliant option if you like live entertainment and are a fan of the performing arts. There are always various plays and shows on, for which you can buy tickets in advance or at the door for $30 per head.
They have successfully produced various shows and plays in the past, including ‘As You Like It’ and ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’
Lake Forest Events
Annual Christmas Tree Lighting
Every November, Lake Forest locals gather to light the town’s Christmas tree in a fantastic and well-organized event. The lighting takes place in Historic Market Square, and live entertainment and warm drinks are provided.
Holiday Art Sale
Lake Forest’s Holiday Art Sale is another festive event that runs for a couple of days in early December. It usually takes place at the Stirling Hall Art Center on 60 East Old Mill Road and is a great place to find a piece of locally produced artwork at a reasonable price.
Lake Forest Holiday Lights Stroll
Yet another festive event is the Lake Forest Holiday Lights Stroll, which gathers hundreds of locals in mid-December who go for a stroll on the “most decorated streets in Lake Forest” for about 30 minutes. The walk begins at Market Square near the town’s main Christmas tree, and anyone is welcome to come along!
Lake Forest is Safe For Seniors
Chicago is notorious for being one of the U.S.’s most crime-ridden states, with the highest levels of gun crime in the country, but many affluent areas of the state are far safer than the vast majority of the United States.
Lake Forest is one of these areas, and as safety is a very important thing for seniors to consider when picking where to retire, its safety makes it a great option.
Lake Forest is served by officers of the Lake Forest Police Department, and Karl M. Walldorf is the chief of police:
255 W. Deerpath
Lake Forest, Illinois 60045300 E. 29th Street
If you want to check out the up-to-date crime data for Lake Forest (or any other neighborhood in the U.S.), visit SpotCrime.com, and you’ll get current crime data on theft, assault, burglary, and vandalism.
What Does it Cost to Live in Lake Forest?
It is considerably more expensive to live in Lake Forest than the broader Chicago average, and it is about twice as expensive to live in than the average for the state of Illinois.
- The cost of living in Hyde Park is 19 percent greater than the Chicago average.
- The cost of living in the town of Hyde Park is 17 percent higher than the national average.
- The cost of housing in Hyde Park is 38 percent higher than the national average.
- Illinois’ general sales tax is 23 percent greater than the national average.
- Illinois state income tax is 123 percent higher than the national average.
Here’s how Lake Forest costs break down by general categories:
|Index||Lake Forest, Illinois|
|Overall Cost of Living||186|
|Goods and Services||109|
This cost of living index is based on a national (U.S.) average of 100. If the number you see is below 100, it’s below the national average. If the number is higher than 100, it’s above the national average.
Source: Area Vibes