With Lake Michigan on the east and the Chain O' Lakes on the west and thousands of acres of forest preserves, Lake County offers unique spaces and inspiring places for meetings, conferences, expos and other special occasions.
Events become memorable experiences when enhanced by elegant settings or spectacular lake views, and options are boundless for free time outdoor activities from garden walks to boating or charter fishing for small groups.
Lake County is renowned for its hundreds of lakes and majestic waters. You can take your group on a boat tour of Chain O' Lakes, rich in gangster history and folklore. Leave from Port of Blarney in Antioch and dock at the famous Blarney Island, only accessible by boat, for a casual lunch or dinner.
Impress your attendees with a meeting on the stage of the Genesee Theatre, stroll the gardens at the Chicago Botanic Garden during a meeting break or plan a team-building event at the Libertyville Sports Complex.
Ravinia, the oldest music festival in North America, serves as a beautiful site for group events. Other unique settings include Independence Grove Forest Preserve, Greenbelt Cultural Center, Viper Alley and the Lake County Fairgrounds, or consider one of the county's golf courses as the backdrop for a meeting or event.
Built in 1927, the Genesee Theatre in Waukegan is a historic theater which was restored to its original regal splendor and reopened in 2004. The theater is available for private functions and features auditorium-style seating for 2,400. The facility offers seven lounges for meetings and receptions of up to 200 attendees. The theater's stage provides a unique setting for banquets of up to 150.
Viper Alley in Lincolnshire is a private event venue with an industrial-chic atmosphere, a large stage, six bowling lanes and a flexible floor plan with catering for up to 650 people. Lincolnshire is also the home to Loft 21, a new, private event facility with 31,000 square feet of ultramodern space.
The Lake County Fairgrounds in Grayslake offers many options and is conveniently located within walking distance of two commuter rail lines to downtown Chicago. The Event Center features a 62,000-square-foot expo hall and several function rooms. In addition, the grounds and show barns provide endless outdoor possibilities, from corporate picnics to car shows.
For an exceptionally unique occasion, The Gold Pyramid House in Wadsworth is open for tours and private functions of up to 100. The six-story, 17,000-square-foot architectural oddity is considered one of the most curious homes ever constructed. For retreat-type gatherings, consider the beautiful Conference Center at the University of St. Mary of the Lake. USML has more than 800 acres of natural surroundings and can accommodate groups of up to 300.
Lake County offers more than 60 hotels, including the Marriott Lincolnshire Resort currently completing a $22 million renovation, which boasts a new front entrance and lobby, renovated banquet pavilions, a full-service spa, new restaurants and an overhaul of all 389 guest rooms.
The project will be completed by the end of 2017. The resort also features 40,000 square feet of meeting space, an 18-hole PGA Championship Golf Course, and the award-winning Marriott Theatre.
Illinois Beach Resort, on the shores of Lake Michigan, recently completed renovation of its 92 guest rooms and is a perfect setting for retreats and reunions. Great Wolf Resorts, North America's largest family of indoor water park resorts, is in the process of transforming the former KeyLime Cove Resort in Gurnee into Great Wolf Lodge Illinois.
The new property will open in summer of 2018 with 414 guest suites, new restaurants, shops, and indoor and outdoor water parks and 7,800 square feet of flexible meeting space.
Other full-service hotels in Lake County are the Hyatt Regency Deerfield, Marriott Suites Deerfield, Embassy Suites Deerfield, Doubletree by Hilton in Mundelein, and the Holiday Inn and Conference Center in Gurnee. For those flying in, Lake County is just 15 miles from O'Hare Airport and 40 miles from Milwaukee's General Mitchell Airport.
Visit Lake County is the official destination marketing organization for Lake County, Illinois, offering complimentary assistance for those planning meetings, expos, reunions or special events. Take advantage of our knowledge, vast resources and free services. Check out VisitLakeCounty.org for more information on the many naturally inviting meeting spaces across the county.
• Maureen Riedy is president of Visit Lake County.