15 Best Things to Do in Glenview (IL)

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
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Officially a village, this upscale northwest suburb sits around 15 miles from the Chicago Loop. When Glenview was incorporated in 1899 it had a population of just 399, and this has risen to close to 50,000 at the most recent estimate.

Glenview has some high-profile visitor attractions within its borders, as well as wonderful shopping opportunities exemplified by the Glen Town Center, built on the site of a naval air facility.

You won’t have to travel far to reach some other Chicagoland highlights, like the Chicago Botanic Garden and the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, both minutes away.

Something else to note about Glenview is the sheer amount of green space, with more than 290 acres of local parks, as well as beautiful wooded areas belonging to the Forest Preserves of Cook County.

1. The Grove

The Grove, Redfield EstateSource: zhaonameloc / Flickr | CC BY-SA
The Grove, Redfield Estate

This 123-acre tract of land on the west side of Glenview was settled in the mid-19th century by the visionary horticulturalist Dr. John Kennicott.

He is renowned for establishing the first commercial nursery in the area, while his son Robert would go on to identify dozens of new species at the Smithsonian Institute and co-found the Chicago Academy of Sciences in 1857.

At The Grove you can visit the house built by Kennicott Sr. in 1856, and also on the property is the Redfield Estate, built by a descendant Bertha Redfield in 1929.

These houses sit in 150 acres of ecologically diverse prairie, sprinkled with attractions like the Grove Interpretive Center, a log cabin, a Native American Village and a Wetlands Greenhouse.

2. Kohl Children’s Museum

Kohl Children’s MuseumSource: Smart Destinations / Flickr | CC BY-SA
Kohl Children’s Museum

This sensational hands-on educational attraction was founded in 1985 by philanthropist Dolores Kohl, daughter of the Kohl’s department stores founder.

Fully accessible, the Kohl Children’s Museum uses multisensory experiences as educational tools. In this spirit there are 15 permanent exhibits, all encouraging participation.

Several exhibits mimic everyday experiences, like the Whole Foods Market, SpotHero Car Garage, Pet Vet and Baby Nursery.

Elsewhere the Cooperation Station is cleverly designed to promote teamwork, while Water Works has whimsical machines allowing kids to discover the scientific properties of water.

The museum includes two acres of outdoor space at the Habitat Park, with all sorts of sensory-focused activities.

3. Historic Wagner Farm

Historic Wagner FarmSource: Thomas Barrat / shutterstock
Historic Wagner Farm

An opportunity to experience Glenview’s rural history, this attraction run by the Glenview Park District preserves a farm from the early 20th century.

The Wagner family has a connection to Glenview that goes back to 1855 when what is now a suburb was home to some 5,000 farms, dairies and orchards.

At the Historic Wagner Farm you can tour the charming brick farmhouse built in the 1920s by Thomas and Julia Wagner, complete with modern conveniences for the time like indoor plumbing and electric lighting.

On the property you can check out interactive exhibits at the Heritage Center, see the inside of a two-story silo, admire the machinery at the Wagner barn and meet a host of domestic animals, from chickens to horses.

In summer the Historic Wagner Farm is also the venue for the Glenview Farmers’ Market, setting up in the parking lot every Saturday morning.

4. Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center

Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education CenterSource: victor408 / Flickr | CC BY
Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center

Next door in Skokie is a major museum devoted to honoring the victims and survivors of the Holocaust and preserving the legacy of this event.

In doing so, the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center aims to combat hatred, prejudice and indifference.

The permanent Zev and Shifra Karkomi Holocaust Exhibition is a detailed timeline of the Holocaust illustrated by more than 500 artifacts and recording the rise of Nazism, the ghettoes, concentration camps and resettlement.

An exhibit designed to strike a chord with the next generation is Make a Difference! In this dynamic and interactive space children aged 8-12 can get to know figures like Rosa Parks and develop positive decision-making, leadership and empathy by roleplaying situations that might occur in everyday life.

5. Flick Park

WaterslideSource: Suzanne Tucker / shutterstock

Named for a local commissioner from the mid-20th century, Flick Park is a community park with year-round appeal and a ton of amenities.

Families flock to Flick Park in summer for the Flick Outdoor Aquatic Center, featuring a lap pool, zero-depth pool, tot spot, diving pool, several water slides, “splash blasters” and a water playground.

Come winter Flick Park is one of the best places in the area to go sledding and outdoor ice skating.

Among the numerous other facilities are a children’s playground, picnic areas and field/courts for tennis, basketball, baseball, soccer, football, pickleball and volleyball.

6. The Glen Town Center

Glen Town CenterSource: Payton Chung from DCA, USA / Wikimedia | CC BY 2.0
Glen Town Center

Inspired by European cityscapes, The Glen Town Center is an endearing open-air mall, with elegant architecture, tree-lined streets, benches, wrought iron street lamps and broad sidewalks.

It might be hard to believe but until the 1990s this used to be Naval Air Station Glenview, and a big clue is the control tower, which has been integrated into the mall’s design.

Among the 50+ stores are branches of Dick’s Sporting Goods, Von Maur and GameStop, alongside an enticing lineup of eateries, the Funtopia children’s activity center and multi-screen movie theater.

7. Gallery Park

Gallery ParkSource: Payton Chung / Flickr | CC BY
Gallery Park

Opposite The Glen is the 142-acre Gallery Park, the largest single public park in Glenview. This space took shape in the 1990s on land previously occupied by Naval Air Station Glenview’s runway and aprons.

Naturally, being an airfield the land was extremely flat and devoid of vegetation, and so an intensive landscaping and planting process took place in the late 90s, endowing the park with its lake, rambling hills and wealth of trees, flowers and shrubs.

Today you’ll find flowing lawns, wetlands, a prairie landscape, an amphitheater for summer performances, a meadow, a fountain plaza, tennis courts, several different playgrounds for kids and of course that meandering lake.

Several pathways course through the park, including a paved bike trail around the lake.

8. Funtopia Glenview

Funtopia GlenviewSource: Funtopia Glenview / Facebook
Funtopia Glenview

At The Glen Town Center is a one-of-a-kind activity center concept blending entertainment and sports, and aimed mainly at kids.

On offer at Funtopia Glenview is a slew of “fun walls”, an artificial caving system, a rope course, a giant slide and a 20ft free fall.

There are more than 40 fun walls at the center, and these are carefully graded to provide a fun challenge for all abilities.

So the youngest climbers will have a fun time tackling the beanstalk or dinosaur skeleton, while bigger kids can test their skills on genuine climbing walls or the “Rocktopia” granite wall.

The rope course, with its tricky transitions and obstacles, poses a fun-packed but also surprisingly rigorous challenge.

9. Chicago Botanic Garden

Chicago Botanic GardenSource: elesi / shutterstock
Chicago Botanic Garden

One of the top tourist attractions in Chicagoland is an easy trip northeast of Glenview. Dubbed a living plant museum, the Chicago Botanic Garden is set on nine islands at the north end of the Skokie Lagoons.

There you’ll discover 25 different display gardens, as well as four natural habitats. Just to sum up some of the favorites, you’ve got the English Walled Garden, the Japanese Garden, the Water Gardens, Sensory Garden, Waterfall Garden and greenhouses displaying exotic plants from around the world, including rainforest and desert species.

Inside, you can check out intriguing exhibitions at the Regenstein Center, the courtyards of which are used to show off one of the world’s finest collections of bonsai in summer. Before visiting take a look at the garden’s website to find out what plants are in bloom.

10. Oil Lamp Theater

TheatreSource: wee dezign / shutterstock

Right in downtown Glenview is a treasured not-for-profit theater staging high-quality professional productions. The Oil Lamp Theater was born as an invitation-only theater group in Lakeview in 2005.

These shows at the founder’s residence, often lit with oil lamps when the power went out, were such a hit that the group expanded to a new permanent location at 1723 Glenview Road.

This comfortable, intimate space can hold audiences of 60, with complimentary homemade cookies at every performance, as well as a meet-and-greet with actors after the show.

A few recent productions include The Odd Couple, Mass Appeal (Bill C. Davis), Last of the Red Hot Lovers and The God Committee.

11. Blue Star Memorial Woods

Blue Star Memorial WoodsSource: Crawford Brian / Flickr | CC BY-SA
Blue Star Memorial Woods

Also belonging to the Forest Preserves of Cook County, this picturesque tract of forest traces the North Branch Chicago River, which runs along Glenview’s east side.

Despite being surrounded by residential neighborhoods, the Blue Star Memorial Woods feel remote, and you can hike, cycle or ski along the North Branch Trail, which we’ll cover in more detail below.

The woods are mostly oak, although catalpas and Scotch pines were planted in the 20th century.

This land served as a Civilian Conservation Corps camp during the Depression, and then as a POW camp during WW2, and you can find traces of former bunkers from those times. Dogs are permitted on-leash, and there’s a designated flying area for drones.

12. North Branch Trail

North Branch TrailSource: John Ruberry / shutterstock
North Branch Trail

The Chicago Botanic Garden is the northern terminus for a 36-mile trail that makes its way through the suburbs, tracking the Skokie Lagoons, the Skokie River and the North Branch of the Chicago River.

Despite passing through densely inhabited urban areas, the North Branch Trail is peaceful as almost all of the route takes you through various Forest Preserves of Cook County.

So it wouldn’t be unusual to come across deer along the path, especially early or later in the day.

In Glenview the North Branch Trail winds through the Blue Star Memorial Woods, and if you bike north it won’t be long before you’re at the Skokie Lagoons, a Mecca for birding, fishing and boating.

13. River Trail Nature Center

River Trail Nature CenterSource: River Trail Nature Center / Facebook
River Trail Nature Center

On Glenview’s west flank, the Des Plaines River bends through a series of natural spaces in the care of the Forest Preserves of Cook County.

Close to The Grove you can get onto the Des Plaines River Trail System and head north through the tranquil oak-hickory forests of Camp Pine Woods, Lake Avenue Woods and Allison Woods.

In the latter you can stop at the River Trail Nature Center, an enlightening free attraction dedicated to the plants, animals and habitats along the Des Plaines River. The center has nature themed indoor and outdoor play areas, an interpretive trail and live animal displays.

14. Glenview Ice Center

Glenview Ice CenterSource: Glenview Community Ice Center / Facebook
Glenview Ice Center

Maintained by the Glenview Park District, this newly renovated facility is nothing short of spectacular.

The Glenview Ice Center has two NHL-sized rinks, a studio rink, a pro shop, 11 team rooms, a dryland training space, a community room, great hall and a restaurant and coffee stand.

If you’re a casual skater you can take part in one of the many public skate sessions throughout the week, with skate rental costing just $4.

Season passes are available, and there’s also a rich hockey program for both kids and adults, with first time lessons, development classes, leagues, camps and clinics.

15. Glenview Park Golf Club

GolfSource: Bohbeh / shutterstock

A highly rated municipal course, Glenview Park Golf Club has been part of the local park district since 1955 and continually updated since then.

On blue grass, with bent grass tees, this is a short track par 70, with twelve par 4s. Something that stands out about the course is its landscaping, with a huge diversity of mature trees, flowers and shrubs.

The club tends to be open dawn to dusk, seven days a week from mid-March to mid-November. For a post-round bite there’s Coarse Italian at the clubhouse, known for its handcrafted pizza.

You can get hoagies, dogs and burgers at lunch and more refined choices like linguine capricciosa and short rib gnocchi at dinner.


15 Best Things to Do in Glenview (IL):

  • The Grove
  • Kohl Children’s Museum
  • Historic Wagner Farm
  • Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center
  • Flick Park
  • The Glen Town Center
  • Gallery Park
  • Funtopia Glenview
  • Chicago Botanic Garden
  • Oil Lamp Theater
  • Blue Star Memorial Woods
  • North Branch Trail
  • River Trail Nature Center
  • Glenview Ice Center
  • Glenview Park Golf Club