Chicago Weekend Getaway to the North Shore
For a “weekend in Chicago” experience without leaving the suburbs, try Skokie! No, really! Tucked away in Skokie, IL, Old Orchard Mall (4999 Old Orchard Center, Skokie, IL 60077), is an outdoor shopping center boasting premium retailers such as Henri Bendel and Tiffany & Co., as well as chef-driven eateries and plenty of “locals only” shops, sights and activities. Surrounding the mall in nearby neighborhoods such as Niles, Glenview, Winnetka, Des Plaines, Northbrook and River Grove, you’ll find some truly unique opportunities to indulge, shop, relax, get pampered and even take in a little culture. Who says you have to trek into the city to have some fun? Spend a day or two exploring Old Orchard Mall and the Skokie area. Check out our list of the Best Chicago Area Weekend Getaway ideas focused upon the northern, IL suburbs.
Top 10 Things to Do Near Old Orchard Mall
- Get Glam at Chicago Hair Extensions Salon (9933 Lawler Ave Suite B, Skokie, IL 60077).
Ladies, you no longer have to travel to Chicago’s near north side for longer hair. Visit the newly-opened Chicago Hair Extensions Salon across the street from Old Orchard Mall, just behind Bloomingdales. This cozy salon offers the very best real human hair extensions for every hair type, including so-hot-right-now ombre hair extensions. Take advantage of their free consultations and find out which type of hair extension application is best for your hair – whether it’s thinning, curly, wavy or short. Chicago Hair Extensions salon also offers eyebrow waxing and hair extension removal by top stylists and cosmetologists. See why this salon is considered the best place for hair extensions serving the proceeding communities: Skokie, Evanston, Morton Grove, Wilmette, Niles, Glenview, Winnetka, Park Ridge, Norridge, Des Plaines, Northbrook, Elmwood Park, Schiller Park, River Grove and Franklin Park IL.
- Get Fashion-Forward at Akira (4999 Old Orchard Center, Skokie, IL 60077 – Level One).
Chicago girls know where to find the hottest on-trend clothing, footware and accessories, and you can find them too, right inside Old Orchard Mall. Akira’s private label offers fashion-forward designs at affordable prices -including figure-flattering denim in all the latest cuts and colors. Whether you’re looking for something from an internationally known fashion house, or a unique piece from a Chicago designer, the helpful staff are there to offer style advice for a full-service shopping experience.
- Happy Hour at McCormick & Schmick’s (4999 Old Orchard Center, Skokie, IL 60077 – Level One).
One of Chicago’s most popular seafood and steak joints, McCormick & Schmick’s has been voted Best Happy Hour by publications ranging from Los Angeles Magazine to USA Today. Appetizers in their Old Orchard Mall location start at $2.99, and hand-crafted cocktails are only $7 from 4pm to 6:30pm daily, so you’ll have plenty of money left over to shop with. Choose from seasonal selections such as Firecracker Shrimp Tacos and New York Strip Carpaccio. Then, indulge in a specialty martini like Urban Influence, a mix of Skyy Vodka, triple sec & Ocean Spray cranberry juice.
- Get Zen at Chicago Botanic Garden (1000 Lake Cook Rd, Glencoe, IL 60022).
A ten minute drive from Old Orchard Mall will transport you to a world of tranquil beauty. This lush garden features 385 acres of stunning greenery, 26 gardens and 81 acres of water ways. Have your camera ready to capture images of the more than 250 bird species found in the gardens, and in the more than 100 acres of woods and 15 acres of prairie. Hundreds of varieties of trees, bulbs, perennials, aquatic plants and more are in bloom year-round, with a calendar full of activities ranging from children’s story time to farmer’s markets to garden-fresh cooking classes. Dozens of flower shows and sales allow you to take a little piece of the Chicago Botanic Garden home with you.
- Eat Like a Top Chef at Frontera Fresco (4999 Old Orchard Center, Skokie, IL 60077 – Level One).
Top Chef and owner of Frontera Grill and Topolobampo restaurants Rick Bayless will change the way you think about mall food. In this partnership with Macy’s Frontera Fresco serves natural, sustainably-produced meats and cheeses, organic produce, artisan breads and Fair Trade coffee – all priced at $7.50 or less. Vegetarians love the roasted mushroom tacos and tortas, while the more carnivorous types go for the chorizo quesadillas and the short rib huaraches. Enjoy a fresco margarita, or wine by the glass, and whatever you do, don’t miss the guacamole bar, which features tasty toppings like toasted pipettes and bacon.
- Visit the Leaning Tower of Niles (6300 W Touhy Ave, Niles, IL 60714).
No one will believe you went to Old Orchard Mall and ended up in Italy, but it’s true – sort of. Less than five miles north of the mall you’ll find an Instagram-worthy photo op you won’t want to miss. At 94 feet tall, the Leaning Tower is a half-sized replica of Italy’s famously crooked Leaning Tower of Pisa. The structure honors Niles’ sister city pact with Pisa, Italy, and also features four fountains and a 30-foot pool. For the best photo, stand across the street from the tower and smile!
- Buy Local at Local Goods Chicago (5354 W. Devon Ave, Chicago, IL 60646).
Old Orchard Mall is lots of fun, but if you’re looking for something truly unique, take a 15 minute drive over to Local Goods Chicago and browse handmade, artisan goods made by Chicago artists, confectioners and craftsmen. There you’ll find books, apparel, accessories, home goods, gifts, and locally roasted coffee from Bridgeport Coffee Company. Take a beading class, or learn to draw your pet during one of the many classes offered by Chicago Artisan Lab, a non-profit dedicated to encouraging people to make things by hand.
- Treat Yourself at Francesca’s Collections (4999 Old Orchard Center, Skokie, IL 60077 – Level One).
Back inside Old Orchard Mall, you can shop an eclectic mix of clothing, accessories and other small pleasures at Francesca’s Collections. Inside this sweet boutique, you’ll find a carefully curated collection of on-trend dresses, bold jewelry, and helpful staff who can help you find the perfect gift – for you, or someone you love. Every location has a unique selection, and carries only a handful of each item, so if you see something you like, don’t pass it by!
- Travel the World at Leonidas Chocolate Café (1348 Shermer Road, Northbrook, IL 60062).
After a long day of pampering and shopping, take a moment to recharge with a perfectly frothed cappuccino at Leonidas Chocolate Café. Start with something savory like the Croque Madame – Black Forest ham, egg, Swiss cheese, and béchamel sauce melted inside a light and fluffy crepe. Then, indulge in one of their many “grown up” hot chocolates such as Java Vanilla, Mont Blanc, or Extreme Dark, if you dare. Take home an assortment of Leonidas Belgian chocolates to share… or not!
- Catch a Rising Star at the North Shore Center for Preforming Arts (9501 Skokie Blvd Skokie, IL 60077).
Music and theater fans alike will love this arts center, featuring a 867-seat main stage theater and a more intimate 318-seat theater. Take in a performance by the Skokie Valley Symphony Orchestra, who plays this theater five times per year, or see a live performance from artists such as Grammy-nominated composer-pianist, Vijay Iyer. Catch a comedy that’s been described as “savagely funny” as Theater Wit presents Bad Jews, or take the family to a performance of The Nutcracker over the holidays. The North Shore Center for Preforming Arts also offers classes for children from kindergarten through 12th grade in their Youth theater program.
Why getaway to the Old Orchard Mall Area?
For extra credit, you can head over to Super Hmart (Civic Center Plaza, 801 Civic Center Dr, Niles, IL 60714), a behemoth Asian grocery store like no other. You could spend an afternoon in the produce section alone, browsing exotic fruits and vegetables from all over the world – like the amazing 80 pound jackfruits from Southeast Asia, or the notoriously stinky durian fruit from Malaysia. Choose the freshest seafood anywhere from dozens of tanks filled with octopus and other live creatures, and get lost in aisle after aisle of packaged Asian snacks like roasted dried seaweed and green tea Kit Kat bars. Grab a quick lunch in the food court where you can try freshly made sushi, or authentic Korean barbecue.
We suggest the following times to go: anytime!
Whether you’re in it for the clothes and shoes, a bite to eat, or a cocktail with the girls, you can find it all within a hop, skip and jump from Old Orchard Mall. Book a night in one of the many hotels nearby and bring your friends for a weekend of 5-star dining, luxurious hair extensions and pampering. Old Orchard promises world-class shopping, and unique Chicago area weekend getaway you won’t see anywhere else!