With its prime location north of Chicago, unique meeting venues and three resorts, Lake County, Illinois, is the ideal place to host your next meeting, conference or event. The region has more than 8,500 guest rooms and a multitude of meeting spaces, perfect for everything from inspiring corporate meetings to productive retreats. After hours attendees can enjoy Lake County's diverse dining and entertainment options as well as the region's natural beauty.
Here are five reasons to host your next event in Lake County.
1. Unique meeting spaces and venues
The magnificent Genesee Theatre in Waukegan is available for private functions and features a regal auditorium with seating for 2,400. The facility offers seven lounges for meetings and receptions of up to 200. The theater's stage can hold banquets up to 150. The Gorton Community Center in Lake Forest houses the newly-renovated John & Nancy Hughes Theater -- a state-of-the-art, 309-seat performing arts venue.
The Lake County Fairgrounds features The Event Center with a 62,000-square-foot expo hall and 120 acres of property or consider the grand Loyola Cuneo Mansion and Gardens in Vernon Hills which is open year-round for corporate functions.
The Park District of Highland Park offers a unique variety of indoor and outdoor venues. For gatherings of up to 50 people, check out the Rosewood Beach Interpretive Center situated on the scenic Lake Michigan shoreline. The industrial chic Viper Alley in Lincolnshire is a private-event venue for up to 650 with a large stage, six bowling lanes and a flexible floor plan.
2. Three resorts and 65 hotels
Chicago Marriott Lincolnshire Resort stretches along 175-wooded acres with an 18-hole PGA Championship golf course, the award-winning Marriott Theatre, 50,000 square feet of meeting space and 389 guest rooms. The resort recently completed a major renovation which transformed the property.
Zion's Illinois Beach Resort and Conference Center is the state's only resort hotel located on the shores of Lake Michigan. With 92 newly-renovated guest rooms and 14,000 square feet of meeting space, the resort offers beautiful views and a spacious backdrop for events.
Great Wolf Lodge Illinois is opening this summer in Gurnee with 414 guest suites and meeting space for up to 330. The Northwoods-themed property is on the site of the former KeyLime Cove Resort. It will boost an 80,000-square-foot indoor water park as well as a new outdoor pool, arcade, bowling, mini-golf and more.
On the south end of Lake County, Deerfield, is home to three full-service hotels -- Hyatt Regency, Marriott Suites and Embassy Suites. Other full service hotels in Lake County are the DoubleTree by Hilton in Mundelein and the Holiday Inn and Conference Center in Gurnee.
3. Natural beauty provides the perfect backdrop
With more than 170 lakes and rivers, 23 miles of shoreline along Lake Michigan and 154 miles of trails, as well as numerous gardens and outdoor attractions, Lake County's picturesque setting adds to its charm. Lake Michigan offers planners the possibility of hosting everything from exciting charter fishing excursions to relaxing evenings around a bonfire on the beach.
In the summertime, enjoy music under the stars at Ravinia, the oldest music festival in North America. This stately Highland Park venue serves as a gorgeous site for indoor and outdoor events. Nearby Chicago Botanic Garden provides a breathtaking backdrop for networking dinners and cocktail receptions.
4. Exceptional attractions
Lake County is also home to multiple attractions, where you can host extraordinary outings and corporate parties. Treat your attendees to a thrilling day of roller coasters and waterslides at Six Flags Great America and Hurricane Harbor. Or, strap them into a modified bumper car for an adrenaline-fueled game of lacrosse on wheels at WhirlyBall, a restaurant and bar in Vernon Hills accommodating parties up to 400. For the shoppers in your group, Gurnee Mills offers the perfect mix of outlet and traditional stores or visit Downtown Libertyville and Antioch, or Historic Long Grove, for an eclectic array of shops and restaurants.
This summer you can take your group to the KPMG's Women's PGA Tournament in Lake County June 28-July 1 at Kemper Lakes Golf Club in Kildeer. One-hundred and fifty-six of the world's top women golfers compete in this world-class major championship.
5. Memorable dining
Lake County offers a diverse selection of restaurants for unique dining. The Shanty, in Wadsworth, was featured on Guy Fieri's popular show "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives." A beautiful new addition with private banquet space is opening this spring. In nearby Gurnee, The Chocolate Sanctuary is another crowd-pleaser. The restaurant's namesake ingredient is artfully incorporated into dishes, and a semiprivate space is available for small groups. For traditional American fare, treat your attendees to locally-sourced steaks and burgers at Beelow's Steakhouse in Lake Zurich and Highland Park. Then, enjoy the new Lake County Libation Trail, a showcase of microbreweries, wineries and distilleries in the county.
Visit Lake County is the official destination marketing organization for Lake County, Illinois. We offer complimentary consulting for those planning meetings, expos or special events. Take advantage of our knowledge, vast resources and free services. Our professional staff is eager to help make your next event a huge success. Check out VisitLakeCounty.org for a wealth of helpful information.
• Maureen Riedy is president of Visit Lake County.