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Evanston

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Northwestern University
For other places with the same name, see Evanston (disambiguation).

Evanston is a city in the North Shore region of Illinois along the shores of Lake Michigan. Evanston has many identities: college town, dining destination, cultural center and gateway to the wealthy North Shore, although the city itself is anything but homogeneous in regards to economic status, culture and race.

Evanston is named after John Evans, one of the founders of Northwestern University, which ranks among the most prestigious universities in the United States.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

The nearest airport is Chicago O'Hare International Airport, though Chicago's Midway Airport is sometimes a more affordable option.

Public transportation is also available between O'Hare and Evanston. You can take the CTA Blue Line to the Clark/Lake station, then transfer to the Purple Line express (during rush hour) or transfer to the Red Line at Jackson and then go north to Howard station where you can take the Purple Line the rest of the way to Evanston. Alternatively, a cheap way of going to Evanston is by Pace bus 250, which runs directly from O'Hare Kiss-and-Fly to Evanston Davis Street.

Airport shuttles and taxis are also options. American Taxi offers reasonable flat rates between O'Hare and Evanston (and many other North Shore towns), but a pick-up must be arranged by phone.

By car[edit]

Interstate I-90/94, known locally as the Edens Expressway, runs about 5 miles to the west of Evanston. Once in Evanston, you can park on the street (meters with a 2-hour limit) or in one of three city-operated parking garages. (The City of Evanston offers more information.)

By train[edit]

  • The Metra Union Pacific North Line runs from downtown Chicago, with stops in Evanston at Main and Davis (Both right next to the Purple Line) and Central (a few blocks further west).
  • The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) runs the Purple Line from Chicago. It can be accessed during morning and evening rush hours from most elevated train stops in the Loop. It runs express from Belmont on Chicago's North Side to the Howard station in Rogers Park, at the northern border of Chicago. Then, it becomes an all-stops train for Evanston. When the Purple Line Express is not running (mid-day and late evening), take the Red Line north to Howard and then transfer to the Purple Line. The Davis station is in the midst of the downtown business and shopping area and is accessible.

By bus[edit]

  • Pace & CTA runs buses from neighboring suburbs such as Wilmette and Skokie. Many routes connect at the Davis CTA station.

Get around[edit]

The CTA Purple Line makes stops at South Blvd., Main, Dempster, Davis, Foster, Noyes, and Central: after Central, the CTA Purple Line continues one more stop to Wilmette. Pace & CTA buses connect at many of these stations, especially Davis. Evanston is also a very bike friendly city [dead link].

Travelers may note that in the springtime, local birds, especially pigeons, are so used to the CTA line (which has been in operation for more than fifty years), that the birds will often walk on to the train at Davis Street, ride the train south to South Boulevard, and walk off the train! Apparently, these birds have learned that the train is an efficient way to get from the center of town to feeding areas in the cemetery next to South Boulevard.

CTA Bus Routes[edit]

Pace Bus Routes[edit]

See[edit]

  • Northwestern University. Tours are available from the Office of Undergraduate Admission at 1801 Hinman Avenue - One of the premier universities in the US, Northwestern maintains a parklike campus situated along the shore of Lake Michigan. In the 1960s, the university decided to expand the campus by filling in part of the lake with sand from the Indiana Dunes, creating an idyllic, tree-lined 84-acre area surrounding a lagoon. The campus also features an outdoor sculpture garden, indoor art galleries, multiple theaters, and an eclectic collection of architecture ranging from neo-Gothic to modernist. At the north end of the college campus is a working lighthouse, open to the public, with scenic views of the shore.
  • Shakespeare Garden. Created by the Garden Club of Evanston in 1917, Shakespeare Garden on Northwestern's campus was designed by Jens Jensen.
  • 1 Grosse Point Lighthouse, intersection of Central Street and Sheridan Road on Lake Michigan (201 Central/Ridge bus or Central CTA). Built in 1873. Learn about the Fresnel lens in the tower and the ships that wrecked in the nearby shallow waters on a tour of the museum in the former keepers’ quarters (June through September on Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 2, 3, and 4PM). Grosse Point Light on Wikipedia Grosse Point Light (Q5610547) on Wikidata
  • Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, 3001 Central St (201 Central/Ridge or 206 Evanston Circulator bus), +1-847-475-1030. Tu-W,F-Sa 10AM-5PM, Th 10AM-8PM, Su noon-4PM. $5 adults, $2.50 children/students/teachers/seniors.
  • Music Institute of Chicago, +1-847-905-1500. Nichols Concert Hall, located at 1490 Chicago Avenue, home to the Music Institute of Chcago's Faculty and Guest Artist Concert Series.

Do[edit]

  • Next Theatre Company, 927 Noyes St (Noyes CTA). Box office open Tu-Sa noon-6PM and two hours prior to each show. Located on the first floor of the Noyes Cultural Arts Center. $25-$40 adults, $12.50-$20 young adults and students.
  • [dead link]Lighthouse Beach, 2611 Sheridan Rd (This beach is hard to miss, located at the northern tip of Evanston, just North of Northwestern University.). This is a kid friendly, safe beach, like all of Evanston's beaches. Can be fairly crowded, but it is a very nice way to spend a summer's day. There is a relatively new playground about 20 yards from the shore, which is also enjoyable.

Buy[edit]

The central shopping district is off Davis Street, in downtown Evanston, but Dempster Street, just a few blocks south, is also a great place to shop. It has several small, fashionable yet unpretentious boutiques. The Central Street shopping area in northern Evanston, which runs 2 blocks from Green Bay Road to Hartrey Avenue, has a number of high-end boutiques, cafes, and bakeries, including The Spice House, Table Manners, Ritzlin Antique Maps, Urban Totem (chandeliers and furniture) and Tag's Bakery. Main Street in southern Evanston is in the process of gentrifying, and is currently worth a visit for Ten Thousand Villages, Dave's Down to Earth Rock Shop, and Vogue Fabrics. Several upscale restaurants have recently opened in this area as well.

Evanston has an improbably large number of Oriental rug stores.

Eat[edit]

Budget[edit]

  • Buffalo Joe's, 812 Clark St (Davis CTA/Metra), +1-847-328-5525. 11AM-midnight daily. Buffalo Joe's offers their wings at three heat levels: mild, hot, and "suicide" (topped with jalapeño peppers). Some people swear that this place has the best wings and burgers in the city.
  • [formerly dead link]Gigio's, 1001 Davis St (Davis CTA/Metra), +1-847-328-0990. M-Sa 11AM-1AM, Su 2PM-10PM. An Evanston favorite for many years, Gigio's offers up thin-crust pizza by the (huge) slice, as well as other fare, at reasonable prices.
  • Rollin' To Go, 910 Noyes St (Noyes CTA), +1-847-332-1000. M-Sa 10:30AM-7PM, Su 11AM-4PM. Regarded by many as the best sandwiches in Evanston. Pizza, soups and salads compliment the famous sandwiches. Catering to Northwestern students, the eatery offers excellent food fast, and has plenty of cute seating in their store to stop and enjoy a meal. Beware: on gamedays (Northwestern Football games), lines may stretch down the street; its a good idea to call ahead and pick up your order. $6-$7.
  • Al's Deli, 914 Noyes St (Noyes CTA), +1-847-475-9400. Th-Tu 11AM-4PM, closed W. This tiny, French-inspired cafe near the Noyes Arts Center is a favorite of locals. Bob Pottinger and his brother, aided by a succession of Northwestern students, serve homemade soups (one per day) and hand-crafted sandwiches, along with cookies voted Chicago's best. The baguettes are provided by a local bakery, made with a recipe developed by Mr. Pottinger based on his travels in France. The soup/sandwich combo is almost enough food for two, but save room for the luscious, vanilla-rich buttercream cookies or the new and delicious Belgian chocolate cookies. Sandwiches are between $6 and $9; soup between $3 and $4; cookies between $1 and $2 - and they accept euros.

Mid-range[edit]

  • Carmen's, 1012 Church St (Davis CTA/Metra), +1-847-328-0031. M-Th 11AM-10PM, F-Sa 11AM-11PM, Su noon-10PM. Try the stuffed spinach pizza.
  • Hecky's, 1902 Green Bay Rd, +1-847-492-1182. M-Th 11AM-9PM, F-Sa 11AM-10PM, Su 11AM-8PM. Another local favorite: Creole barbecue since 1983.
  • Le Peep, 827 Church St (Davis CTA/Metra), +1-847-328-4880. M-F 6:30AM-2:30PM, Sa-Su 7AM-2:30PM. Eggs in a variety of ways.
  • Mt. Everest, 630 Church St (Davis CTA/Metra), +1-847-491-1069. Lunch buffet: M-F 11:30AM-2:30PM, Sa-Su noon-3PM; Dinner: Su-Th 5PM-10PM, F-Sa 5PM-10:30PM. Indian, Tibetan, and Vegetarian.
  • Lou Malnati's, 1850 Sherman Ave (Davis CTA/Metra), +1-847-328-5400. M-Th 4PM-10PM, F-Sa 11AM-11PM, Su 11AM-10PM. Best Chicago pizza! Order the ice cream pizza for dessert when you arrive, it takes time.
  • Tapas Barcelona, 1615 Chicago Ave (Davis CTA/Metra), +1-847-866-9900. M-Th 5PM-10PM, F-Sa 5PM-11PM, Su 5PM-9PM. Spanish tapas cuisine with a big menu, including a long list of imported booze.

Splurge[edit]

  • Pensiero Ristorante, 1566 Oak Ave (Davis CTA/Metra), +1-847-475-7779. Reservations taken Tu-Th 5PM-9PM, F-Sa 5PM-10PM, Su 5PM-9PM. Fine Italian cuisine and a renowned wine cellar in the historic Margarita European Inn.
  • Oceanique, 505 Main St (Main CTA/Metra), +1-847-864-3435. M-Sa 5:30PM-. Great restaurant for high-end cuisine, especially seafood, with an amazing tasting menu and incredible wine pairings. Outdoor seating is available during the summer. $50-130.

Drink[edit]

Thanks to the hordes of Northwestern students, downtown Evanston has plenty of good, non-chain coffee shops. You'll have little luck finding a bar, however - for many years, Evanston was a center of the teetotalling Temperance Movement, and although it's much more permissive nowadays, ordinances still hinder drinking establishments.

  • 1 Kafein, 1621 Chicago Ave (Davis CTA/Metra), +1-847-491-1621. Su-Th 11AM-midnight, F-Sa 11AM-1AM. One of the original grunge-wave coffee shops, Kafein has more of a lazy bohemian vibe these days, and serves terrific desserts.
  • 2 Linz and Vail, 2012 Central St (Central St Metra), +1-847-475-1381. M-F 6AM-8PM, Sa 6AM-9PM, Su 7AM-8PM. An open, airy coffee shop that also serves an array of gelato. They brew Intelligentsia coffee and offer a fourth shot of espresso free with any drink, for serious caffeine junkies. The staff is very friendly and helpful, and all seem to have liberally sampled their products.
  • 3 Brothers K, 500 Main St (Main CTA/Metra), +1-847-328-7940. M-F 6:30AM-8PM, Sa-Su 7AM-7PM. A small, independent coffee shop. Has especially delicious cookies.
  • 4 Unicorn Cafe, 1723 Sherman Ave (Davis CTA/Metra), +1-847-332-2312. M-Sa 6:30AM-8PM, Su 7:30AM-8PM. The Unicorn has a nice ambiance, and in the summer it is pleasant to sit outside. The cafe feels conducive to leisure as well as work. A nice place to pop in for a coffee and read the paper.

Sleep[edit]

Budget[edit]

Mid-range[edit]

Splurge[edit]

  • Hilton Orrington, 1710 Orrington Ave (Davis CTA/Metra), +1-847-866-8700, toll-free: +1-888-677-4648, fax: +1-847-866-8724. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: Noon. The fanciest hotel in Evanston, it underwent a major remodel in 2004, and a couple years later joined the Hilton chain. $139+.

Go next[edit]

  • There is the small matter of Chicago right next door.
  • The Purple Line ends in the affluent suburb of Wilmette, walking distance from the Baha'i Temple, a cultural and architectural sight to see.
Routes through Evanston
ENDWilmette  N CTA L Purple Line icon.png S  Rogers Park, ChicagoEND
KenoshaWilmette  N Metra Union Pacific North icon.png S  ChicagoEND



This city travel guide to Evanston is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.