Evanston is a city in Illinois, north of Chicago, 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.
The nearest airport is Chicago's O'Hare Airport. If you're heading directly to Evanston from the airport, ask your hotel if they can arrange an airport shuttle. Otherwise, you'll have to take a taxi. 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. Another alternative is to 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. 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.
Interstate I-90/94, known locally as the Edens Expressway, runs about 5 miles to the west of Evanston.
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.
Pace & CTA runs buses from neighboring suburbs such as Wilmette and Skokie. Many routes connect at the Davis CTA station.
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.
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 cemetary next to South Boulevard.
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. Interestingly, the Garden is not named after famed English poet and playwright William Shakespeare, but rather after architect Lars Shakespeare, who designed the university's Technological Institute. No, only kidding. It was William.
Grosse Point Lighthouse, intersection of Central Street and Sheridan Road on Lake Michigan, . 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)
The Mitchell Museum of the American Indian.
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.
Buffalo Joe's, 812 Clark St (Davis CTA stop), ☎ +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.
Gigio's, 1001 Davis St (Davis CTA stop), ☎ +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 stop), ☎ +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 stop), ☎ +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.
Carmen's, 1012 Church St (Davis CTA stop), ☎ +1 847 328-0031. M-Th 11AM-10:30PM, F-Sa 11AM-11:30PM, Su noon-10:30PM. Try the stuffed spinach pizza.
Dave's Italian Kitchen, 1635 Chicago Ave (Davis CTA stop), ☎ +1 847 864-6000, . Su-Th 4PM-10PM, F-Sa 4PM-11PM. Warm atmosphere and hearty food at a local favorite, in Evanston for more than 35 years. Enter in a hurry and you'll leave relaxed.
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 stop), ☎ +1 847 328-4880, . Breakfast and lunch only. Eggs in a variety of ways.
Mt. Everest, 630 Church St (Davis CTA stop), ☎ +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 stop), ☎ +1 847 328-5400, . M-Th 4PM-10PM, F-Sa 11AM-11PM, Su 11AM-10PM. Outlet of the Chicago deep-dish pizza dynasty.
Tapas Barcelona, 1615 Chicago Ave (Davis CTA stop), ☎ +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.
Davis Street Fishmarket, 501 Davis St (Davis CTA stop), ☎ +1 847 869-3474, . Breakfast Sa-Su 11:30AM-2PM; Lunch Tu-Sa 11:30AM-2PM, Su 11:30AM-4:30PM; Dinner M-Th 4:30PM-10PM, F-Sa 4:30PM-12AM, Su 4:30PM-9PM. Popular, long-standing restaurant with fresh, flown-in seafood, including the Raw Bar.
Va Pensiero, 1566 Oak Ave, ☎ +1 847 475-7779, . Reservations taken Su-Th 5:30PM-9PM, F-Sa 5:30PM-10PM. Fine Italian cuisine and a renowned wine cellar in the historic Margarita European Inn.
Thanks to the hordes of Northwestern students, downtown Evanston has plenty of good, non-chain coffee shops.
Kafein, 1621 Chicago Ave (Davis CTA stop), ☎ +1 847 491-1621, . Su-Th 11AM-2AM, F-Sa 11AM-3AM. One of the original grunge-wave coffee shops, Kafein has more of a lazy bohemian vibe these days, and serves terrific desserts.
Linz and Vail, 2012 Central St (Central Street Metra stop), ☎ +1 847 475-1381. M-Sa 6AM-9PM, Su 7AM-9PM. Linz and Vail has two location in Evanston - 922 Noyes Street just east of the El stop and a newer one at 2012 Central Street (one mile west of purple line). Both are open, airy coffee shops that also serve an array of gelato. They brew Intelligentsia coffee and offer a fourth shot of espresso free with any drink, for serious caffiene junkies. The staff is very friendly and helpful, and all seem to have liberally sampled their products.$.
Cafe Express, 615 Dempster St, ☎ +1 847 864-1868. Perhaps the oldest coffee house in Evanston, Cafe Express boasts an inexpensive cup of joe. A great spot for study and conversation, but beware of the colorful characters that venture over from the local mental hospital.
Best Western University Plaza, 1501 Sherman Ave, ☎ +1 847 491-6400 (toll free: +1 866 579-8381, firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +1 847 328-3090), . checkin: 3PM; checkout: Noon. Wireless internet, fitness room.$79+.
Hilton Garden Inn, 1818 Maple Ave (Accross from the Century movie theatres), ☎ +1 847 475-6400, . checkin: 3PM; checkout: 11AM. Opened in the late 1990s, otherwise just like any other Hilton Garden Inn outlet.$119+.
Hotel Orrington, 1710 Orrington Ave (Downtown, 2 blocks from the Davis CTA station), ☎ +1 847 866-8700 (toll free: +1 888 677-4648, fax: +1 847 866-8724), . checkin: 3PM; checkout: Noon. The fanciest hotel in Evanston, it underwent a major remodel in 2004.$139+.
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.