Best Cheap & Free (Socially Distanced) Summer Fun in Lake County

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Remember when we thought quarantine would last 3-4 weeks? Oh boy, who knew this would become a lifestyle. With summer more than half over, here are some tips to get out and enjoy the best of it, safely and without breaking the bank!

  • Splash Parks! They may be small, but they are mightily fun. Here are the area splash pads: Gurnee Hunt Club Aquatic Center Spray Ground, Grayslake Spray Park, Mundelein Spray Park– free to residents/$4 non-resident, Waukegan Park District has more than one splash pad, the SportsPark location is particularly good.
  • Beach Day! While many area pools are closed, we can still enjoy some fun in the sun. We’ve found that weekdays or mid to late afternoon on weekends are the least crowded times to go. Best area beaches: IL State Beach Park in Zion, we have our fav spot near the park office before you get to the main beach. Jones Island Park with access to Grays Lake is one of the best-kept secrets, besides swimming, it has a playground, boat launch, and sand volleyball! Lehmann Park in Lake Villa also has a small playground, parking at the beach requires a city sticker, non-residents can park at the Metra station.
  • Ice Cream! You scream, I scream! How can you go wrong with a quick trip to the neighborhood ice cream parlor? Here are a few area favorites: The Freeze 131 Hawley St, Grayslake, Dairy Queen, 502 S Milwaukee Ave, Libertyville, Cold Stone Creamery (next to Panda Express and Starbucks), 7105 Grand Ave #2C, Gurnee, My Flavor It! Place (downtown, rumor has it they have authentic Hawaiian shaved ice!) 703 N Milwaukee Ave, Libertyville.
  • Bike Rides! Beyond neighborhood jaunts, we have so many trail options! Slap on that sunblock, fill your water bottles and check out Rollins Savanna, which is now part of the Millenium Trail System. You can hop on at the main entrance in Grayslake, or off Drury Lane just south of Rollins Road. The Grayslake portion makes a figure 8 with a 3-mile and 1-mile loop- the latter will bring you north to McDonald Woods, making for a fun day of riding! Alternatively, rack up your bikes and head to Independence Grove, with a 3-mile loop (with options) around its lake. Extend your ride north or south along the Des Plaines River Trail.
  • What activities have been the highlight of your summer? Share in the comments below!

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