Things To Do In Skokie, IL (And Why You Should Visit!)

Things To Do In Skokie, IL (And Why You Should Visit!)

Things To Do
In Skokie, IL
(And Why You
Should Visit!)

Published August 18, 2022

Welcome to my first blog post featuring a Chicago suburb! I spent the past week or so exploring the Village of Skokie, located directly northwest of Chicago. Although it may seem like your average suburb at first glance, Skokie has a unique culture and a quaint downtown area that is worth exploring.

Skokie is also accessible via the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority), making it one of only a few suburbs served by the urban train system. Skokie is home to a prominent Jewish community, and it has a vibrant food scene. There are also lots of green spaces and parks. This post will cover all of that and more. To skip down to a certain section, click or tap the corresponding link below!

Visit Downtown Skokie (Oakton & Lincoln)

Looking at a map, it is not immediately obvious where Downtown Skokie is. That’s why I’m here to tell you that it’s at the intersection of Oakton Street and Lincoln Avenue! The nearest CTA stop is Oakton-Skokie on the Yellow Line. Below are some of the attractions you’ll find in that area.

Skokie Heritage Museum

This small museum was actually originally a firehouse. The exhibits inside center around the history of firefighting in Chicago and the northern suburbs. Back in those days, fires posed a major threat to entire towns and cities. When fires broke out, they often shaped the historical trajectory of America’s urban centers. The Skokie Heritage Museum has limited hours (as of summer 2022), so check online before you head over to visit.

Skokie Public Library

Skokie’s library is a large, modern community space. In fact, it was renovated last year, and all of the interior spaces look amazing! For travelers, the library is a great place to cool off (or warm up depending on the season), rest for a bit, or use the restroom. Needless to say, be respectful of people reading or studying.

Aw Yeah Comics

One peculiar thing about Skokie is that many of the town’s electrical boxes are decorated with bright, colorful comic panels. Take a look at one more closely and you’ll see that they’re from “Aw Yeah Comics” by Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani.

The Aw Yeah Comics store is in downtown Skokie (address | website), which sells their own comic books plus many other series. I haven’t read comic books since I was maybe in middle school, but I decided to purchase a few here to support a local business, and maybe even get back into reading them!

Parks to Check Out

Lots of beautiful parks are scattered throughout Skokie. Below are three of the most notable ones.

Emily Oaks Nature Center

This park is located along the Skokie Valley Trail between West Howard Street and Oakton Street. Since Emily Oaks is enclosed by a fence, you’ll have to enter at the parking lot on the southwest corner.

Skokie Valley Trail

The thing that I loved most about Emily Oaks is that it is so green! There is only one short paved trail loop, but some other dirt paths branch off and circle the park’s pond. The foliage here is pretty dense, so you almost forget that you’re surrounded by suburban streets as you walk around.

Oakton Park

Directly north of Emily Oaks is Oakton Park, a pretty standard suburban lawn with sports fields, picnic tables, and paved walking paths. The Skokie Water Playground is adjacent to Oakton Park, and so is the “Exploritorium,” a local children’s museum.

Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park

The North Shore Channel connects Lake Michigan with the Chicago River. It also serves as Skokie’s eastern border with neighboring Evanston. North-to-south trails exist on both sides of the channel, but I recommend you walk along the Skokie side. That’s because there are about seventy sculptures on this narrow strip of green space that runs parallel to North McCormick Boulevard!

An impressive diversity of styles are on display in the Northshore Sculpture Park. However, most of them are distinctly modern. Some are more abstract than others. You can read more about the artists and their work on the park’s website.

One thing to note is that there’s a pretty dense layer of trees between the sculpture park and North Shore Channel. If you want to see the waterway, you can view it from any of the bridges that cross over into Evanston (Emerson Street, Church Street, Dempster Street, Main Street, or Oakton Street). With that said, it’s not a super picturesque river.

Skokie's Food Scene

This might be the number one reason to take the train or bus out to Skokie! There are so many amazing restaurants to try here. Furthermore, Skokie has its own culinary offerings that are distinct from Chicago. These include Jewish delis and diners, plus lots of enticing Middle Eastern cuisine. Read on to see some of my favorites!

Kaufman's Bagel & Delicatessen

Address: 4905 Dempster St, Skokie, IL 60077

This bustling deli sells pastries, hot food, and other groceries. So far, I’ve only tried their bagels, but they are amazing, especially with cream cheese and veggies! Kaufman’s is also much cheaper than any bagel sandwich you’ll find in Chicago!

Village Inn Pizzeria Sports Bar and Grill

Address: 8050 Lincoln Ave, Skokie, IL 60077

Craving pizza and a beer? Head over to Village Inn! Order by the slice or get a whole pie. I really like their Village Inn Special, which has mushroom, onion, green pepper, and sausage.

Pho Phu Linh

Address: 4741 Main St, Skokie, IL 60076

Pho Phu Linh serves delicious and authentic Vietnamese food. Their phở and spring rolls are good, but I think their rice plates (cơm đĩa) really stand out. This combo of rice, meat, eggs, and a few veggies tastes basically like it would in Vietnam. They don’t alter it to appeal to the American palette, which is precisely why it’s so good!

De-Jred Fine Jamaican Cuisine

Address: 4901 Oakton St, Skokie, IL 60077

Finding new places to get good Jamaican food always brings me joy! De-Jred’s is conveniently located right by the Oakton-Skokie CTA stop, so it’s easy to get to. I ordered one of my favorite Caribbean specialties here: oxtail with plantains and rice and beans! It was juicy and flavorful. I can’t wait to go back here to try more of his menu!

Ken's Diner & Grill

Address: 3353 Dempster St, Skokie, IL 60076

I love the retro vibe of Ken’s Diner, which serves authentic Chicago-style food. The Italian beef sandwich I tried here was tasty and their fries are crispy. The staff at Ken’s Diner were also so friendly and welcoming!

Sarra Grill

Address: 8335 Skokie Blvd, Skokie, IL 60077

I’ve tried lots of Mediterranean restaurants in Skokie, and Sarra Grill is probably my favorite so far. They serve an amazing and affordable lunch combo complete with rice, baba ganoush, different kinds of meat, and a really interesting bread that’s flat but still soft. Go check them out!

Fiesta En Tuxpan Mexican Grill

Address: 4949 Oakton St, Skokie, IL 60077

Skokie doesn’t have as many Mexican restaurants as Chicago’s northside, but Fiesta En Tuxpan is a great one to try! I enjoyed their enchiladas suizas, which came on a colorful, deep plate. It ended up being a very filling and delicious meal!

Complimentary Café

Address: 4933 Oakton St, Skokie, IL 60077

This food guide wouldn’t be complete without a mention of coffee! Luckily, Oakton has an excellent place. Complimentary Café has a bright and modern seating area that always seems to be full of people studying or socializing. They can accommodate all your espresso-based drink needs. In addition, keep an eye out for a hand-written compliment or positive message on your cup, napkin, or plate. It’s a memorable and unique concept that perfectly embodies how friendly Skokie is!

Sketchbook Brewing Co.

Address: 4901 Main St, Skokie, IL 60077

Local craft beer fans will love Sketchbook Brewing! It’s so local, in fact, that it’s technically not even a Chicago thing. It’s specifically a north suburbs brewery, with taprooms in Skokie and Evanston!

Their Skokie location is absolutely massive, with tons of indoor and outdoor seating. I’ve only been outside of peak hours, but it’s always been a very chill place to sip on a beer.

Everything I’ve ordered at Sketchbook tastes great. I remember having one that was brewed with honey and basil, which was especially interesting.

And Many More!

As mentioned above, Skokie’s food scene is incredibly vibrant! There are dozens more restaurants in the village I still want to try, but this blog post would start to look like a novel if I featured every single one. In any case, know that this is not an exhaustive list. Leave a comment below and let me know if there’s a restaurant in Skokie you really love!

Shop or Walk at Westfield Old Orchard

This upscale, outdoor shopping mall has a history spanning over sixty years. Unlike many malls throughout America, Old Orchard still appears to be going strong. That’s probably because it has a beautiful outdoor pedestrian corridor complete with fountains and art. I’m not much of a shopper, but I still enjoyed walking through this mall on Skokie’s north side.

Visit the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center

I highly recommend visiting this large museum on Skokie’s north side (address | website). It’s undoubtedly one of America’s most important and comprehensive resources for learning about the Holocaust. Plan to spend some time here; it took me almost four hours to see all of the exhibits.

The museum is beautifully designed with three floors to walk through. In fact, the architectural layout masterfully utilizes both darkness and natural light to juxtapose the pain Jewish people suffered with the hope that comes from telling survivors’ stories.

On the ground level, there are two very unique experiences you won’t want to miss. The first is a virtual reality exhibit called “The Journey Back,” where Holocaust survivor Fritzie Fritzshall tells her story. The second is a hologram talk called “Abe & Ida Cooper Survivor Stories,” where you can watch pre-recorded testimony from survivors about their lives. Both the VR and the hologram experience are included with your ticket, but you have to attend them at an assigned time.

The next floor up is where you’ll find the Zev and Shifra Karkomi Holocaust Exhibition. It does an excellent job of laying out the historical context behind the Holocaust. There are also artifacts on display that paint a full picture of the suffering that Jewish people went through in the 1930s and 1940s. The exhibition ends by telling some stories of survivors who left Europe to come to the US and Illinois specifically.

How to Get to Skokie

The Village of Skokie is well integrated into metropolitan Chicago’s transit networks. It is easily accessible by bus and car. However, I think the easiest way to make it out here is on the CTA Yellow Line, which connects the village with Chicago’s far north side via the Howard Stop.

After departing from Howard, the Yellow Line stops at Oakton and Dempster. Most (but not all) of the attractions featured on this post are closer to Oakton than Dempster, but traveling between the two is fairly easy.

Go Enjoy Skokie!

There’s a stereotype of suburbs being sleepy and boring towns that don’t have much to do. And while that can be true of certain suburbs, it’s certainly not true of Skokie! I thoroughly enjoyed venturing out past Chicago city limits, and I think you will too. If you find something cool in town that I didn’t mention in this post, leave a comment below to let me know!

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This post was published on Aug 18, 2022

This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. Susie S.

    Wow, it has changed a lot since I left Chicago. Even back in the day, Skokie was still a happenin’ place. Always had a great variety of restaurants and shopping. Thanks!

  2. Kailyn Travels

    I can’t believe I lived in Chicago for 5 years and never checked Skokie out! I wish I had visited the Holocaust Museum (or even known that it was there.) Sketchbook brewing looks so fun I definitely missed out not visited!

  3. arv

    An interesting read. The library is huge and seems so well stocked. Very few cities have such nice libraries. You have included so many nice places to eat. Makes for a great introduction to Skokie.

  4. Jamie Italiane

    I would like to visit if only so I could say the name over and over. So cute. Also, I am a bit obsessed with Pokemon Go, and I bet those cute cartoon electrical boxes are all Pokestops, so I would have a lot to do here with all your options and my game playing. I also would like to stop by the library to play the enormous checker sets. I love the idea of the coffee shop putting positive vibes into the world on their cups and napkins too!

  5. Eric Gamble

    How cool, we never made it up to Skokie when we visited Chicago but considered it as part of our trip to visit Hemingway’s Birthplace House just south of there! Kind of wish we did because it looks so clean and serene. Love all the parks and outdoor experiences that you can have like at the brewery. The museums are wonderful too. That Holocaust Museum alone would be a big draw for many but we also love local museums so the « old Firehouse » Skokie heritage Museum looks fun too!
    Lastly, I think one of my favorite parts about reading your adventures is your food experiences because you always mix it up. For me, I always am stuck in the mindset of Needing to Eat the Local Food. So I would have definitely gone to Ken’s Diner for a classic « Chicago-Style » Italian beef sandwich which seems like a great bet for sure! But since you mixed it up, looking at that food at the Jamaican De-Jred or the Mediterranean at Sarra’s make me want to add them to the list too!

  6. We never left the downtown area when we visited Chicago. But a visit to Skokie looks like something we should look into for our next visit. We would definitely enjoy all the great outdoor spaces. And plan some time for the sculpture garden. Good to know we can eat our way around town to fuel our adventures.

  7. Maggie

    I’ve been to Chicago but never heard of Skokie. It looks like a cute little suburb. I’d like to check out their Holocaust museum and try one of those yummy bagels.

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