Think it’s only possible to host a chic event within Chicago city limits? Think again. These gorgeous North Shore venues not only exude sophistication, but have enough character and style to keep pace with any Chicago space. Let’s start exploring…
The Armour House Mansion and Gardens at Lake Forest Academy, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, provides a uniquely timeless setting for your special event, large or small. With spacious and stately rooms, this Italian-style villa incorporates old-world charm to create beautiful and lasting memories with a mission to create an unforgettable experience of exceptional service standards to its clients.
THE ART CENTER, HIGHLAND PARK
Surround your guests in art and culture within The Art Center-Highland Park, which gives off a contemporary, in-the-know vibe. Enjoy their latest exhibit within the three gallery spaces offered up for events at this North Shore mainstay. With the ability to host 250 guests for a reception, or 150 for sit-down affair, nothing is overlooked when planning a special event here. The TAC also offers a distinctive spot to hold children’s birthday parties, as well as bar or bat mitzvahs.
Private events are in perennial bloom at the North Shore’s beloved Chicago Botanic Garden. Each season offers a different feeling at this remarkable location of national significance in Glencoe. On a summer evening, enjoy cocktails by the English Walled Garden or Rose Terrace, before a seated dinner in canopied splendor of the McGinley Pavilion. If the grounds are covered in a blanket of white, several grand indoor spaces avail themselves to wow guests. Offering full-service event and planning assistance, the Garden leaves very little to fret over before the big day.
Before the farm-to-table movement was even on the lips of Chicago’s eco-conscious, Elawa Farm was leading the way. Situated on a 16-acre parcel of land in Lake Forest, this early 20th century gentleman’s farm was restored to its historical glory and now serves as an unparalleled event venue for the North Shore’s Wellie boot-set. Book rooms like the “Hay Barn” and “Wagon Shed” for a luncheon or cocktail hour, or watch the sun fade over the adjacent Middlefork Savanna, all the while enjoying the earthy goodness of Chef Steve Chiappetti’s farm fresh offerings.
THE GLEN CLUB, GLENVIEW
Providing its guests with the traditional country club feel, The Glen Club makes all who enter through its doors feel like a card-carrying member. Open to the public for hosting events, their Grand Ballroom’s floor-to-ceiling windows look out onto the championship golf course, providing a serene setting in the summer months. On a clear day, the Chicago skyline can even be seen in the distance. Be sure to take advantage of the Bridal Balcony, offering itself as a snapshot spot for that first moment as Mr. and Mrs.
GREENBELT CULTURAL CENTER, NORTH CHICAGO
Head north up the shore to the Greenbelt Cultural Center, where panoramic vistas of the tranquil prairie await. The property, located in North Chicago, is managed by the Lake County Forest Preserve and boasts 18,500-square feet of usable indoor or outdoor space. Tent the amphitheater outside, host cocktails in the art gallery, or entertain guests in the 310-person Grand Woodland Banquet Hall. Cutting-edge green practices give this eco-friendly location a unique edge over traditional venues. Guests will breath easy thanks to the locale’s “living” wall: a leaf covered, indoor floor-to-ceiling hedge whose job is to continually clean the air.
There is no wrong choice when hosting an event at Independence Grove, an environmental treasure situated on a 1,100-acre nature preserve and recreation area in Libertyville. The outdoor venue possibilities feel nearly limitless when choosing from the carefully tended to Native Garden, the picturesque North Bay Pavilion, the tranquil sandy beach on the property’s lake or several more. When it’s time to move guests indoors, Audubon Hall offers up a structural masterpiece with rustic design and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the lake, or erect a climate-controlled tent in Millennia Plaza for up to 500. Guests are rest-assured when it comes to top-to-bottom event management: all special occasions at Independence Grove are managed by the local and trustworthy Catering by Michaels.
Nestled in between the stately homes of one the nation’s most elite zip codes, The Kenilworth Club defines North Shore understated elegance. Prairie-style master George W. Maher designed the gem in 1907, which boasts distinctive art glass windows and a vaulted ceiling. The well-manicured grounds, which echo the Club’s clean style, are the perfect spot for a cocktail reception, ceremony, sit down dinner for up to 200 guests, or festive lawn games. Guests coming up from Chicago will enjoy the venue’s ease – the historic commuter train station is just a stone’s throw away.
MIRAMAR BISTRO, HIGHWOOD
If there’s one spot on the North Shore that feels like you have traveled to Europe for the night, Miramar is it. Uniquely capturing the liveliness of Havana and the bistros of old-world Paris, Miramar’s private party room options adjacent to the restaurant are long on character. Host a private tasting for up to 20 guests outside the wine cellar, or invite 200 friends for a rousing cocktail party in the Malecon and Hemmingway Rooms. A private entrance and Parisian feel make this spot a special one.
There isn’t a person in Chicagoland who doesn’t know Ravinia as the area’s primo concert spot, but the summer is also event season at this North Shore venue. Host an event in the PNC Private Dining Room, then watch your guests saunter to their reserved pavilion seats after dinner to enjoy acts like Diana Ross, Dolly Parton and Seal. The impressive “Lawncierge” service is sure to make your guests swoon: the $250 per person ticket (minimum of 30 people) includes a lawn ticket, freshly grilled food, desserts, open bar and a reserved space in an upscale, lounge setting. If you’re one for tradition, keep the classic Raviniaexperience alive with a picnic-style, catered lawn event. Roll up like royalty to your reserved lawn space and enjoy the music under the summer stars!
History and nature are combined in one harmonious retreat when guests enter The Grove Redfield Estate, a picturesque northern European-designed country house within the grounds of the Grove National Historic Landmark in Glenview. Built in 1929, the Estate circulates charm from its stone fireplace and cathedral ceilings, to its charming covered pavilion and two-story leaded glass window. With maximum event capacity at 125, “intimate” is the key word for events at Redfield… not to mention “unforgettable.”
WINNETKA COMMUNITY HOUSE, WINNETKA
Considered a jack-of-all-trades, Winnetka Community House is well appointed to host events for ages three to 93. Weddings, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, corporate events, and celebrations of all kinds make this North Shore mainstay a go-to destination. There are more than twenty options when selecting a child’s birthday theme alone. Sun-filled meeting rooms, the manicured Arches Garden, and even the full gymnasium is open for rent, all for a reasonable price.
The North Shore has been waiting for this. Opening as the sister spot to its sought-after West Loop location, Venue One North Shore is brought to the area by the experienced folks at Event Creative. Transforming the former Chicago Bulls’ Berto Center in Deerfield into an all-inclusive event center of 85,000 customizable square feet, the remarkable spot was created to accommodate a whopping 1,500 guests. Nothing is off limits with its expansive outdoor garden, wine room or sprawling main event space. Culinary staff is on-site during events, with talented Executive Chef Shawn Doolin at the helm.
Industrial chic is the name of the game at Viper Alley in Lincolnshire, a one-of-a-kind private event and concert venue. Positioned as one of the larger event environments on the North Shore, it can accommodate 650 guests, granting wishes for any corporate outing, fundraiser, wedding, or bar or bat mitzvah. Exposed brick and expertise lighting set an unforgettable backdrop. There’s a complete kitchen, a stage with lighting and even a six-lane private bowling facility. Viper Alley—which only books one event at a time, ensuring you complete control of the space—proves to be a destination that can be dressed up, or lend itself to offer a more edgy vibe.