A perfect day can begin with sunrise at the lakefront.

From beautiful beaches and scenic bike paths to outdoor festivals and concerts in the parks, Evanston offers its residents and neighbors a broad range of summer activities and events that reflect the City’s unique character and diverse community.

This article is the first in a summer-long series titled “A Perfect Summer Day.” Each article will focus on activities appealing to specific groups of people such as dads, couples, girlfriends and even dogs.

Evanston is such a family-friendly city that the RoundTable is kicking off the series with this suggestion for “A Perfect Summer Day for Families.”


• Ride the Trails

Morning is an ideal time to take a family bike ride and Evanston’s North Shore Channel path is a perfect route for bikers of all ages and levels. Families should eat a hearty breakfast at home and then head directly to the Evanston Ecology Center where a detailed map of all Evanston bikeways is available for free. The North Shore Channel path begins at the Ecology Center on McCormick Boulevard and follows the North Shore Channel to Howard Street.

• Admire the Artwork

North Shore Sculpture Park is a highlight of the North Shore Channel path and is sure to delight children and adults. The park showcases nearly 70 outdoor sculptures along the 2-mile route and offers opportunities for respite whether the family stops to admire a piece of artwork or to simply rest among the shade of a larger sculpture.


• Grab a sandwich

After a long morning of biking everyone will be ready for a good lunch. Al’s Deli, 914 Noyes Street, is just the right place to satisfy the entire family. This French-style delicatessen, an Evanston staple since 1949, is best known for its meat and vegetarian sandwiches on freshly baked bread, its specialty – baguettes des peres – and a changing daily menu of homemade soups. A window display of large fresh-baked cookies will entice the children and will not disappoint. The owners, John and Bob Pottinger, took over their father’s business in the 1970s. They know most of their regular customers by name, adding to the friendliness and neighborly charm of this distinctively European deli. The bistro tables may be too small to accommodate a large family, but Tallmadge Park across the street is an ideal place to picnic. Small children love to watch the El trains come and go as they eat. Visit www.aldeli.net for a complete menu and hours.

• Take in the View

After lunch, families can head east and north to the Gross Point light station at the end of Central Street. The lighthouse offers tours of the museum and the keeper’s quarters June through September. As part of the tour, visitors can climb the 141 steps to the top of the light tower to enjoy a spectacular view of the lakefront and City. For safety reasons, children under the age of 8 are not permitted. Admission is $6 for adults and $3 for children ages 8 to 12. Call 847-328-6961 for further details.

• A Swing With a View

Noah’s Playground for Everyone, nestled in the woody area just north of the lighthouse in Lawson Park, offers a delightful alternative for those who are either too young or choose not to climb the light tower. This handicapped-accessible playground was built to honor the memory of 2-1/2-year-old-Evanston resident Noah Cutter, who died in December 2005. Designed for all children, special needs and otherwise, the expansive playground can be enjoyed by everyone and includes its own spectacular view of Lake Michigan.


• Watch a Movie Under the Stars

The Evanston Art Center celebrates summer evenings by offering free screenings of family movies on the bluff behind the Art Center. Bring a blanket and a picnic and the entire family can relax and enjoy the film. This year’s lineup includes “Bolt,” “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” and Neverending Story.” Visit www.evanstonartcenter.org/events for dates.

This busy and fun-filled summer day is nearly over, but the best part is yet to come. Hopefully, parents will be rewarded with a long and much-needed good night’s sleep for everyone.

Anne Bodine, Community News Editor, has been a part of The Evanston RoundTable since 2008 as a reporter covering businesses and institutions; arts and entertainment; and health and wellness. More recently,...