The northernmost of the North Shore communities,
Lake Bluff is a scenic village known for its community-oriented attitude, laid-back lifestyle, and great schools. Residents love their leafy streets, abundant parkland, quaint downtown, and picturesque views of Lake Michigan. Located 32 miles north of The Loop, easy access to Chicago, Milwaukee, and other North Shore villages is offered by a Metra station and the Skokie Highway.
The first settler family came to the area 1836, settling on 100 acres of lakefront. A vital stop on the journey from Chicago to Milwaukee, the small settlement was equipped with a tavern and general store for travelers as well as a small school and post office. In these years, the area went through several name changes, known first as the Dwyer Settlement, then Oak Hill (1848), Rockland (1859), and finally Lake Bluff (1882).
In 1874, Lake Bluff gained national renown and its name with the coming of the Lake Bluff Camp Meeting Association. Seeing the tranquil setting as perfect for religious contemplation and educational and recreational programs, the group purchased the property of the original settler family. Attracting prominent personalities including First Lady Lucy Hayes, the group brought interest to the area, fueling housing construction and other development. When the group disbanded in 1889, Lake Bluff was already well on its way to becoming a residential suburb, with the construction of many modest cottages by the lake, a two-story public school, a commuter station, and a picturesque village hall.
Lake Bluff was incorporated as a Village in 1895. Looking to compete with the other North Shore communities for residents, a beautiful brick downtown district and other projects were completed. Initially, these plans were successful as several prominent families built country-style summer estates in the Village until The Great Depression put a temporary halt to expansion. After World War II, new developments (some designed to conserve the natural woodlands and ponds) saw population grow from 2,000 in 1950 to over 6,000 in 2000. Newer projects have included the construction of a commercial and retail area along Route 41 and a revitalization of the downtown district. Despite this expansion, Lake Bluff has preserved its community-centric charm and friendly spirit.
At the heart of the community is its quaint brick downtown district featuring local boutiques, comfy coffee houses, and great local restaurants. Local favorites include Inovasi, an award-winning restaurant featuring local produce, Maevery Public House, serving upscale American, and The Lake Bluff Brewing Company, a local microbrewery. Along the Skokie Highway, a commercial and retail district features a Target, a supermarket, several car dealerships, as well as national and regional chain restaurants.
Lake Bluff residents enjoy some of the best recreation and park facilities in the North Shore. Sunrise Beach Park is perfect for a summer day, featuring two pristine swimming beaches, a dog beach, as well as outdoor grills, fire pits, and kayak/sailboat rentals. The area offers a recreation center hosting many programs, a health and fitness center, a public pool complex, a skatepark, and, in the winter months, an outdoor Ice Rink. Established in 1968, Lake Bluff Golf Club, offers private club caliber amenities, becoming a North Shore “must play”. Other great parks include Ravine Park, with lovely walking trails, and Artesian and Mawman Parks, with baseball fields, basketball courts, and playgrounds.
Bringing the community together are a series of great events held year long, including a Halloween “Ghost Walk”, Christmas Lighting, a summer weekly farmers market, and the Bluffina Concerts on the Village Green. These concerts feature music ranging from rock and pop to classical, including nationally touring acts. Another local community gem is the July 4th parade, featuring family fun and the local boy scout troop.
For decades, Lake Bluff’s education system has drawn residents to the Village. Lake Bluff’s great elementary and middle schools feed into Lake Forest High School. One of the best public high schools in Illinois, the schools consistently produces excellent test scores and sends nearly all of its graduates to four-year colleges. Notable alumni include novelist Dave Eggers, acclaimed musician Andrew Bird, and movie star Vince Vaughn.
Lake Bluff offers a variety of housing types, including multi-million-dollar lakefront estates, historic cottages, and even some condominiums and townhomes. Architectural styles include Tudor, Colonial, Victorian, bungalow and modern homes. Located 32 miles from The Loop, Lake Bluff offers a quaint downtown, great schools, and beautiful parks. In more ways than one, Lake Bluff is the cherry on top of the North Shore!