Conveniently located north of Chicago and along the beautiful Lake Michigan shoreline, Lake County offers thrilling theme parks, educational museums and bountiful outdoor activities that appeal to students of every interest. The lush forest preserves, diverse architecture and live theater can fit STEM, history and fine arts curricula, while world-class theme parks will give them an experience they’ll never forget.
World Class Thrills
Six Flags Great America and Hurricane Harbor offers two exceptional different theme park experiences for the price of one. At Six Flags Great America, students can fight alongside their favorite DC superheroes on Justice League: Battle for Metropolis, flip head over heels on The Joker Free Fly Coaster and reach 78 miles-per-hour on Maxx Force. Coming to Hurricane Harbor in the 2020 season is the Tsunami Surge—the tallest water coaster in the world. Guests will speed over 28 miles-per-hour through gravity-defying blasts, five hairpin turns and revolutionary AquaLucent visual effects. In addition to receiving discounted ticket prices and catered meals at the park, student groups can perform onstage with entertainment professionals or register for programs that explore the physics and technological possibilities of thrill rides.
Great Wolf Lodge Illinois welcomes student groups year-round and invites them to enjoy an 80,000-square-foot water park that includes water slides, a giant tipping bucket and zero-depth play areas. It’s a great home base for your student adventure in Lake County, and it’s conveniently located near group-friendly dining and shopping options. Students can explore Gurnee Mills, an immense entertainment campus that houses over 200 retailers and an educational tour of Bass Pro Shop. The adjoining Tilt Studio boasts nearly 200 video games, a laser tag arena, blacklight mini golf and various party packages to keep your students entertained for the entire evening. Other fun options include 60 to Escape (an engaging escape room complex where students solve puzzles and decode secret messages) and Jump America (a trampoline park where students can play a modified version of dodgeball).
Several of Lake County’s booming business offer student-friendly tours and behind-the-scenes looks at various industries. Tempel Farms, which has been promoting and training the Lippizan breed of horse since 1958, offers tours of the campus so students can learn about the beautiful bond between human and animal.
Students will learn about the Lipizzaner Stallions’ performing history (they began performing for Austrian audiences in the 1500s) the basics of classical dressage and how the horses and athletes train. School groups will also enjoy the Volo Art Museum, which houses over 300 classic, antique and muscle cars and 33 exhibits that explore American pop culture.
Open year-round but especially stunning in the spring and summer, the Chicago Botanical Garden is a gorgeous 385-acre property where students can explore 27 themed gardens, four natural areas and nine islands surrounded by lakes. School groups can stop by the Regenstein Learning Campus on their field trip to experience a staff-led workshop and learn basic biology before seeing the gardens. More outdoor exploration awaits at the Wildlife Discovery Center, which is dedicated to conversation and community outreach by offering several student-friendly experiences in an intimate setting. Students can have hands-on interactions with over 150 species of amphibians, birds and reptiles, and instructors can teach the basics of field biology and environmental science.
The Bess Bower Dunn Museum of Lake County is a new and engaging museum that explores Lake County’s history through exhibits that highlight the region’s prehistoric origins, First People history and role in the American frontier. The museum offers numerous student programs such as “Ice Age Mammals,” “Early Settlers of Lake County” and and “Discovering Dinosaurs,” and Civil War Day brings historic reenactors to the museum bring the stories of Harriet Tubman, Abraham Lincoln and Useless S. Grant to life.
Expose your students to America’s religious heritage at Marytown, a National Shrine dedicated to St. Maximilian Kolbe, a Catholic friar who sacrificed his life for a stranger at the Auschwitz death camp. Groups can tour the beautiful adoration chapel or engage in a short retreat. For old-world charm, bring your students to the Cuneo Mansion and Gardens in Vernon Hills. This Venetian-style estate is furnished with rare art and beautiful gardens, and students can learn about the original occupant: General Electric founder Samuel Insull.