At the geographical north end of one of the most densely populated counties in the country, cities in Near North Suburban Cook
County offer business and residents the best of both worlds: easy access to Chicago, without the cost and crowds of living in the middle of it. Bordered to the north by Lake Cook Road, with Interstates 294, 94, 90 and Illinois Route 53 slicing through it, Near North Suburban Cook County offers plenty of shopping -- both indoor and outdoor -- in addition to lots of restaurant options. Additionally, residents regularly take advantage of the many outdoor recreational opportunities the area affords, whether it's taking a leisurely stroll on a trail or hitting the links on any of the numerous golf courses.
Schools in Near North Suburban Cook
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Restaurants & Nightlife
Because Near North Suburban Cook County stretches for more than 20 miles, there isn't exactly a one-stop shopping area for food and drink. But that's one of the great parts of living here, because the options are endless.
In Glencoe, Guildhall is an excellent location for dinner and Sunday brunch. Just make sure you have a few extra bucks in your wallet, because you'll need it here. That said, you certainly get what you pay for, in terms of excellent food and great service. The grilled hangar steak is a juicy slab of beef that's complemented with Yukon gold potatoes, pearl onions, and butter-braised spinach with a beef au jus. For those thinking something a bit lighter, it's hard to pass on the smoke trout Lyonnaise salad, served on mustard greens with a honey crisp apple and poached eggs.
For one of the better tasting hot dogs in Chicagoland, stop by Gene & Jude's in River Grove. You don't have to think hard about what to order, because your only options are hot dogs, french fries and tamales. But the hot dog holds a place of reverence at Gene & Jude's. The boiled, all-beef dog in a steamed bun is smothered with sweet relish, diced onions, yellow mustard and sport peppers before being topped with french fries. It's then tightly wrapped in parchment paper, so all of the flavors fuse together. Just make sure to leave the plastic at home; Gene & Jude's only takes cash.
The Lucky Monk in South Barrington is a great place for both grub and suds. For eats, try the hand-tossed pizza with goat cheese, spinach, mushrooms and roasted red peppers. If you'd like something a bit more filling, go for the beer braised short rib pasta complemented with wild mushrooms, tomatoes and pappardelle noodles. But what packs the crowds into this place is truly the beer made in the facility's own 10-barrel brew house. If you can't decide which to get, the sampler is the easy choice. You get 4 ounces of The Lucky Monk's five house brews, plus the Monk's choice of the season.
For entertainment, Allstate Arena is the place to find musicians, comedians, circus acts and professional and collegiate sports. Located in Rosemont, it's easily accessible off Mannheim Road, just north of Interstate 90.
History & Culture
The North Shore area of Near North Suburban Cook County has its origins dating back to an 1833 treaty with local Native Americans. Various towns began to form, and most began incorporating after Northwestern University was founded in 1855. Some of the larger towns in this area are Palatine (incorporated in 1866), Evanston (1872), Arlington Heights (1887) and Schaumburg (1956).
Key festivals throughout the year include Arlington Heights' Frontier Days (July), Wheeling's Heritage Music Bluesfest (August), Evanston Lakeshore Arts Festival (August) and The Great Highwood Pumpkin Festival (October).
Ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are viable options for the area, and there are plenty of cab companies to choose from. But for those wanting to get from the suburbs to Chicago's downtown, the stress-free option is taking Metra, the local commuter rail service. There are four rail lines in Near North Suburban Cook County that Metra services, including the Union Pacific Northwest, North Central Service, Milwaukee District North and Union Pacific North lines.
The area's tree-lined streets are inviting for those who just want to take a leisurely stroll on the many sidewalks or ride on one of the region's many bike paths. However, the most popular way to get around the area is by car, and there are plenty of roads to get you there. Popular east-west thoroughfares are Lake Cook and Willow/Palatine roads; major north-south roads are Interstates 94 and 294, along with Illinois Route 53. Most public parking is either free or by a nominal charge via parking meters.
Cost of living isn't cheap in the region, but it's somewhat affordable in certain parts. Your best bet will likely be in Wheeling, where the median monthly rent for a one-bedroom
residence is $990. Other lower-cost options are Palatine ($1,046), Arlington Heights ($1,103) and Schaumburg ($1,154). If you want to live in the tony North Shore area close to Lake Michigan, the median monthly rent for a one-bedroom place in will set you back $2,001 in Kenilworth. Other nearby towns with slightly less monthly rents include Glencoe ($1,766) and Wilmette ($1574).
Typical with the higher cost of living in this region, a pint of beer will run you between $5-6; a gallon of gas in the area sits about 15 percent higher than the national average.
If you ask locals where to find shopping in the area, the popular answer will be Schaumburg's Woodfield Mall. Serving the Near North Suburban Cook County region since 1971, this two-level indoor structure is the largest shopping complex in Illinois. It features five anchor tenants and nearly 300 stores and restaurants.
Beyond that, there are plenty of boutique gems in the region, like Sell a Cow in Arlington Heights and Des Plaines, where you can get name-brand furniture for cheaper prices than in the big box stores. For something a little different, check out the U-Spy Store in Skokie, where you can channel your inner James Bond and browse watches, pens and clocks with hidden, built-in cameras.
Grocery stores in the region include Jewel, Mariano's, Whole Foods and The Fresh Market. Farmers markets are a popular summertime option with local residents, with markets adorning many downtown streets, including Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Palatine and Wilmette.
Near North Suburban Cook County sports numerous hiking and biking trails, many of which can be found in the Cook County Forest Preserves sprinkled throughout the region. All are free to visit and pet-friendly; many of them have grills and picnic shelters for usage. Many of the towns throughout the region have city parks that are free to use; however, some have limits regarding pets
on the property. There are also town-specific festivals that generally take place during the summer months and feature amusement rides, bands and outdoor movies for its patrons.