Finding Apartments for Rent in Waukegan, IL
Waukegan life is quieter and more affordable than anything you'll find in Chicago, but you still get the benefits of Lake Michigan and good public transportation. If you don't mind an up-and-coming downtown district with lakefront views and plenty of potential, you can even start building a life or a business in this well-kept state secret.
If you've seen The Blues Brothers, Groundhog Day, Save the Last Dance, Batman Begins, or The Dark Knight, then you've already seen the streets and homes of Waukegan, Illinois. This town isn't a suburb; city planners work hard to maintain the history and identity of their lakefront community, and from public parks to commercial renovations, improvements bring Waukegan closer to its potential every month. New developments will increase your housing options, unless you jump now and take advantage of low rent prices.
Top Neighborhoods in Waukegan, IL
While Waukegan is just north of Chicago and nestled right on the shore of Lake Michigan, rental opportunities are very affordable in comparison with the town's suburban surroundings. If you love the city but also enjoy Lake County's outdoorsy spirit and plethora of recreation options, Waukegan is a great middle ground with easy access to everything.
Every month, Waukegan's artists and art lovers gather downtown for an "ArtWauk", which includes pedicab transport and free admission to the neighborhood's many art galleries and studios. Current residents also enjoy a hookah lounge, independent theater, and loft space for artists' families, but the downtown arts scene will get even better after a lakefront development project is completed. This creative district will gain a minor league baseball stadium, more rental opportunities, and a completely renovated Genesee Theatre, which the city hopes will revive some of the lakefront area's history.
Waukegan's North Lakefront is part of the city's commitment to ecological and environmental preservation. While there aren't many residential structures in the area, South Lakefront residents can take advantage of the beach access, biking trails, and proximity to a natural landscape that's actually very rare.
The South Lakefront is an increasingly popular option for renters and homeowners alike; waterfront neighborhoods are under construction, and new ecological efforts ensure that the expansions will only benefit Waukegan in the long term. Both Lakefront neighborhoods can support the state park to their north by working hard to protect and restore their own rare freshwater ecosystem of dunes and bluffs.
Cultural Attractions in Waukegan, IL
Waukegan is situated right on Lake Michigan, so water sports are the most popular local recreation all year long, and you're never very far from a body of water. In fact, this town is the host of the famous Polar Bear Plunge, an annual event that has been making headlines for more than a decade as swimmers brave the ice cold waters of Lake Michigan.
The town is also just south of Illinois Beach State Park, a rare and expansive park that stretches more than six miles up the undisturbed shore of Lake Michigan. This is as close to a real beach as you'll get in the Great Lakes, and the dunes make way for some very scenic jogging and biking trails. Whether you're exercising there every week or camping out once a year, Waukegan is so close to Illinois Beach that you can't waste the opportunity to take in the lake and all its animal and plant life.
Waukegan is Gurnee's next-door neighbor, so Six Flags Great America is just five miles from downtown Waukegan. The theme park is a local institution, especially for middle and high schoolers, and its record-setting roller coasters and concerts bring guests from across the whole Midwest and beyond to Waukegan's hotels and businesses.
The Great Lakes Naval Training Center is just south of the city limits, in North Chicago, and this base also has a big influence on the town's demographics. It's the Navy's largest training center and the state's largest military facility, and there's a military presence in many of Waukegan's rental units.
Waukegan Harbor is also a popular draw for the high-profile officials who spend time in northern Illinois because of the naval base. Chicago boaters also pick the harbor for its proximity to the Metra station, full-service marina, and security accommodations.
Shopping in Waukegan, IL
Gurnee Mills backs up to Waukegan's eastern border, but plenty of shoppers travel much, much farther to access this giant, single-level mall. A brand new wing includes Macy's, Neiman Marcus, and other high-end department stores, while young fashionistas can take advantage of H&M, Forever 21, Charlotte Russe, Victoria's Secret, and other affordable style stops.
Downtown Waukegan offers a more unique shopping experience, with local vendors such as Maguy Import Boutique, an African fashion and home decor store; Horsefeathers, a shop with eclectic clothes and accessories; and Your This and That Shop, an antique boutique packed with a well-curated collection of one-of-a-kind furniture and decor. Even boaters and military members can get their essentials downtown.
Transportation Options from Waukegan, IL
Waukegan has its own Metra station, which is the fourth stop on the Union Pacific-North line to Ogilvie Transportation Center in Chicago. There are also eleven Pace Bus routes in Waukegan, serving areas that include Gurnee Mills; Six Flags; North Chicago; the Great Lakes Naval Training Center; local hospitals, schools, and supermarkets; and the North Chicago and Great Lakes Metra Stations (the next two stops on the southbound UP-N line).