Evanston Family Guide | Chicago North Shore Moms

Evanston Hot Spots



This guide was updated in 2024. While it may not be as large as it’s Lake Michigan neighbor Chicago, this artsy city offers much more than you may think! Evanston sits just North of Chicago and is home to Northwestern University, many theaters, art galleries, beaches, parks, and beautiful historic homes. The Charles Gates Dawes House is a gorgeous mansion along the lake and host to Evanston History Center from where you can actually take walking tours through to view the stunning homes in the area. Many locals don’t know about the nationally recognized art gallery, The Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University which is a great place to cruise around with the kids. There are 4 distinct business districts here: Downtown Evanston, Northwestern University Campus (East Central Street), Main Dempster Mile and Central Street. If you’re an Evanston local or an Evanston lover, we suggest subscribing to these district newsletters to stay in the know about all the areas have to offer.

The beaches of Evanston are where it’s at for water lovers and Evanston is the only North Shore city that offers a walk/run/bike path along Lake Michigan. You can stroll along the water from Clark Street Beach through Centennial Park, and Dawes Park, to Greenwood Street Beach until you reach Evanston Beach. There’s plenty of green space along the way to spread a blanket out & relax while the kids play on a sunny day!

Northwestern University’s campus sits along the lake and has its own little neighborhood feel with coffee shops, restaurants, and stores stocked with campus gear, plus plenty of public transportation ranging from a Metra trains line and the Purple El Train to busses and bike lanes if that’s your  jam. Make some time to see a sporting event at Northwestern University sometime and grab a polish, hot dog or beef sandwich at the historic Mustards Last Stand located at 1613 Central St.



Favorite stops along Main-Dempster Mile:

Bently’s Pet Stuff is a great stop for your pet’s treats and eats.

Reprise Coffee Roasters has great coffee.

Booked is a bookstore with a fantastic selection for littles in a welcoming environment.

The Wine Goddesss is a great end woman-owned wine boutique to stock up.

Sketchbook Brewing is a great family-friendly place for events and brews – also women owned!


Favorite Stops along Central Street: Brace yourself – here’s a full blown list:

Central Street is a quaint strip of shopping, bakeries and dining starting west of Green Bay Road, stretching east to the Wildcats Stadium at Northwestern University. Here are faves:

Hewn is one of the best bakeries in all of Chicagoland and beyond!

DB3 donuts is one of the few actual donut shops in the North Shore, offering creative options daily, plus seasonal and custom.

Backlot Coffee has delish brews and a great atmosphere.

Desalvo’s has really good pizza, & even sandwiches and calzones!

Comida’s tacos are a favorite, as are the drinks!  We also love the cauliflower quest & guac.

Hartigan’s Ice Cream is a longstanding, local summer go-to, with great ice cream on a great street!

The Fat Shallot is a North Shore staple and the owners are from Highland Park. You can also catch them at food truck events from time to time!



Favorite stops along Downtown Evanston:

Downtown Evanston has a unique city feel and this area is fantastic to visit come summer & fall with many festivals, a large farmers market, and weekly happenings like music, family and art nights. A few favorites here are Tapas Barcelona, Edzo’s Burger Shop for really GREAT burgers but no atmosphere (and I mean zero), The Barn for an excellent date night out and Gearhead Outfitters for all things outdoors. Of course you’ll want to visit Downtown Evanston website to find a quante hotel for family members or even a staycation. For brunch a must with the whole family is Egg Harbor Cafe, which opened in Evanston in 2023.

There are so many businesses we’ve yet to explore here!  We’ll continue to add and let us know your favorites to check out!

The Neighborhood and Realtor Guide is sponsored by our featured agents.  We appreciate their support of local businesses and park districts!  In the spirit of providing stellar, tried and true content for our viewers, the businesses shared are by personal experience and our own opinions.  We love where we live and will continue to share as we continue to explore Chicago’s North Shore! Thank you for following along and your continued support!

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