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Lake Forest

Lake Forest
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Located along the shores of Lake Michigan, Lake Forest is a tree cladded North Shore community known for its nature preserves, world-class beaches, and magnificent historic estates.

The abundance of green spaces in this city did not happen by accident. Over the years, concerned Lake Forest residents have gone to great lengths in order to preserve the area’s natural features and cultural heritage. The result is a highly desirable community where economic success, history, and the great outdoors play an important role in the everyday lives of its residents.

Lake Forest encompasses an area of 17.24 square miles, including over 800 acres of open lands. Bordered by Lake Michigan to the east, its immediate neighbors are the villages of Lake Bluff, Highland Park, Lincolnshire, Deerfield, and Vernon Hills. As of 2019 Census estimates, the city’s population is around 19,450.

Surrounded by lush verdant spaces, Lake Forest will make you forget you’re less than an hour’s drive from the bustle of downtown Chicago. This tranquil community also has five business centers that host the headquarters of some of Illinois’ and the country’s top corporations, as well as excellent cultural, entertainment, dining and shopping options.

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In Lake Forest IL

A Brief HistoryOf Lake Forest IL

Lake Forest was first developed in the 1850s primarily to support the establishment of Lind University, now known as Lake Forest College, by Presbyterian ministers. The village of Lake Forest grew around the college, and eventually incorporated as a city of Lake County in 1861.

The city was planned by Almerin Hotchkiss, a landscape gardener who later gained fame as the creator of other picturesque places in the Midwest. Hotchkiss platted Lake Forest as a city within a park, with streets following the land’s natural features and topography instead of being laid out in the typical grid formation.

The first homeowners in the city included speculators and wealthy Chicago residents looking for getaway homes in the outskirts of the city. Estate building in Lake Forest began after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. It peaked in the 1880s to the early 1900s, when Illinois’ esteemed early architects, such as Henry Ives Cobb, Charles Frost, and Howard Van Doren Shaw, built their grand residences here.

Permanent residents who traveled to Chicago for work made up a minority of Lake Forest’s early citizens, but all of that changed at the turn of the 20th century.

Preserving the City’s Heritage

Today, the preservation of the area’s natural and built landscape continues to be of high significance to the city, with dedicated residents and the local government contributing to the effort. The city’s Historic Preservation Commission is tasked with safeguarding Lake Forest’s historic visual character, encompassing both its natural features and earliest structures.

Two nonprofits created by private citizens harness the participation of all residents in preserving the city’s heritage. Lake Forest Open Lands was established in 1967 to acquire and safeguard the city’s natural landscapes. It presently maintains over 800 acres of open lands, including six nature preserves, encompassing wetlands, woodlands, and other significant natural features.

Formed in April 1976, the Lake Forest Preservation Foundation works with the community in preserving the historic sites, landscapes, and structures of the city. Each year, the foundation gives out Historic Preservation Awards to individuals and organizations who have made a significant contribution to the city’s historical preservation efforts.

Historic Districts and Notable Historic Buildings

The city’s magnificent homes and estates are an important part of its cultural heritage. Featuring distinctive architecture and landscaping, these palatial homes once served as the addresses of some of the most influential individuals and families in America, including Cyrus H. McCormick, J. Ogden Armour, and Louis F. Smith. Among the many historically and architecturally significant properties here is the Charles F. Glore House, the Usonian home built by Frank Lloyd Wright for Charles F. Glore in 1954.

Lake Forest’s main gathering place is Gorton Community Center, a local landmark listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Constructed in 1901 as the Central School, it went through a number of renovations and additions over the years to include venues for the arts, culture, and entertainment.

The center’s showpiece is the John & Nancy Hughes Theater, which has recently been renovated into a state-of-the-art venue for community performances and events. The 309-seat theater was named after legendary filmmaker John Hughes and his wife, who were longtime residents and community pillars of Lake Forest. The theater is just one of the many places in the city that bear the name of the esteemed couple, in honor and recognition of their many contributions to the community.

Lake Forest also has the distinction of having a historic shopping center, Market Square, which is located in the city’s Western Avenue business district. Opened in 1916, Market Square is considered the earliest planned shopping center in the United States. Today, while “The Square,” as residents call it, is home to modern retail and dining destinations, its unmistakable period architecture and history remain its most enduring draws.

Lake Forest’s oldest sections were added to the National Register of Historic Places in the late 1970s as the Lake Forest Historic District. The city also has four other Local Historic Districts protected through its Historic Preservation Ordinance: Green Bay Road Historic District, Grove School Historic District, Meadowood Dairy Historic District, and Vine-Oakwood-Green Bay Road Historic District.

Homes for SaleLake Forest, IL

Luxury defines the housing market in Lake Forest. A property listing can be anything from a stunning estate encompassing acres of land to a mansion with square footage of anywhere from 6,000 to over 20,000. The ages of these magnificent properties vary from a few years to over 100 years old, including the city’s prestigious historic properties.

The median square footage of homes for sale in the city is around 3,200, with four to six bedrooms and 3 to 4 baths, and the typical lot size is anywhere from 2,000 square feet to over five acres.

Exclusive subdivisions include Conway Farms, Evergreen, Havenwood, Middlefork Farms, North Carroll Meadows, and Villa Turicum.

No matter the size, homes in Lake Forest boast gorgeous architecture in a wide range of styles, including French Country, Tudor revival, Colonial, Georgian, craftsman, and more. They come with immaculate landscaping that complements the city’s verdant surroundings, as well as the finest finishes and top-of-the-line amenities.

Living In Lake Forest, IL

The weather

Lake Forest gets 190 days of sunshine each year, with highs of around 82 degrees in the summer. The city experiences all four seasons, but you can enjoy the outdoors all year round. Summer is the perfect time to explore the many nature preserves and trails in the area, but winter is also perfect for cross-country skiing, ice skating, and other cold weather activities.

Economy & Employment

Lake Forest has five business centers hosting hundreds of businesses of all sizes, including some of the country’s largest corporations. The Central Business District and Historic Market Square are both over 100 years old. Other business centers include Sunset Corners, Forest Square, and Conway Park at Lake Forest. With its close proximity to Chicago and Wisconsin, as well as to O’Hare International Airport, and as home to a highly educated workforce, Lake Forest offers excellent opportunities for businesses of various sizes and industries.

Lake Forest employs around 8,000 people in a wide range of industries, including retail, finance and insurance, professional and technical services, and manufacturing. The average household income in the city is around $150,000, which is about three times the national average.


I-94 (Tri-State Tollway) and US Highway 41 (Skokie Highway) bisect Lake Forest, providing easy access to the rest of the region by car. The city is also served by two Metra lines — the Union Pacific/North Line with a passenger station at N. Western Avenue, and the Milwaukee District/North Line with a passenger station at S. Telegraph Road.

The city is currently working on a Bicycle Master Plan to encourage cycling as a sustainable and healthier alternative to getting around. See this website for details and announcements.


Lake Forest is served by Lake Forest School District 67 and Lake Forest Community High School District 115, the latter of which includes the city’s only high school. Several private schools are also found in the city, including Lake Forest Country Day School, East Lake Academy, and Lake Forest Academy.

Lake Forest College, formerly Lind University, is an integral part of the city’s history and present way of life, providing not only higher education, but also cultural and social opportunities.

See the city’s website for more education and community links.


Lake Forest is home to four golf courses, including the award-winning Conway Farms Golf Club and Knollwood Club, as well as the municipal Deerpath Golf Course. In addition, there are a host of other private clubs such as the famed Onwentsia Club, as well as municipal golf courses in the area, including in neighboring Highland Park, Lake Bluff, and Deerfield. See this website for additional information.

Lakefront and beaches

The City of Lake Forest maintains Forest Park Beach along Lake Michigan. While residents get free and private access, the beach is also open to non-residents for a fee and with a separate entrance. Forest Park Beach is divided into four beaches, one of which is a designated swimming area for adults 21 years old and above. The beach features a blufftop park, a boat launch, concession stands, picnic pavilions, kayak and paddleboard rentals, and many other features, making it a wonderful place for families to enjoy.

Parks and recreation

Lake Forest is home to almost 100 acres of parks, 11 miles of bike trails, and 20 miles of nature and walking trails. You’ll find detailed information about these on the city’s Parks and Recreation Department website, including an Interactive Park Map, and a guide to trails in the city.

One of the most significant attractions in the area is Fort Sheridan, a scenic 250-acre forest preserve along Lake Michigan. Conceived by renowned landscape designer O.C. Simonds for the Fort Sheridan army base in 1889, the preserve is one of the few places in Lake County with public beach access. It’s also a popular spot for birdwatching, serving as home to several indigenous bird species. There are almost 10 miles of hiking and biking trails that will take you through historical sites, different ecosystems, and interesting land formations. Some of the trails are connected to regional trail systems. The preserve also features a 70-foot high overlook where you can get stunning panoramic views of Lake Michigan.

Health and fitness clubs

Health and fitness are essential to the Lake Forest lifestyle. The city operates and supervises several activity centers and programs for residents of all ages, including:

Private facilities include:

Shopping & dining

Market Square is home to restaurants, cafes, and bake shops, but throughout the city is a wide variety of restaurants offering different cuisines and dining experiences. Some of the must try places include:

Market Square also boasts upscale shops and boutiques, including Williams-Sonoma and Lululemon, housed in both historic and modern buildings. You’ll also find specialty grocery stores, such as The Fresh Market and Sunset Foods, as well as charming shops selling everything from consignment goods to artwork and flowers.

Other Attractions

Other must-visit attractions in Lake Forest include:

  • Elawa Farm - Originally built for the Armour family in the early 1900s, Elawa Farm is now a nonprofit farm and garden, where visitors can learn about gardening and the city’s history, and buy fresh produce and homemade goodies.
  • Wildlife Discovery Center - Managed by Lake Forest’s Parks and Recreation Department, the Wildlife Discovery Center is a “living natural history museum” located at Elawa Farm, serving as home to around 85 species of animals.
  • Citadel Theatre - A professional theater company based in the city, Citadel Theatre stages contemporary and classical plays and performances across various genres.

Explore Lake Forest Real Estatewith Cory Green

You deserve the best in life — nothing less than a home in a community like Lake Forest. I am more than just an agent; I’m a full-service white glove real estate broker and it will be my pleasure to guide you through the city, screen available listings, and help you find the home that’s perfect for you. I also happen to be a full time resident of Lake Forest!

If you’re thinking of selling your property or home in Lake Forest, I look forward to being of service. With over 18 years of experience in real estate, between real estate development, construction and sales, I have transacted over $4 billion. Clients trust me and my expertise, and know I’m always willing to go above and beyond to achieve the absolute best results for them. Also, check these other communities that I cater to; North Shore Chicago, Evanston, Glencoe, Glenview, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Lake Bluff, Northfield, Wilmette, and Winnetka.

Contact me at 312.485.0897 or send me an email at [email protected].

The Best Highlights of the Lake Forest

Contact Cory Green

When it comes to discovering the finest properties and enjoying the best lifestyle that Chicago’s North Shore has to offer, there is no better person to have by your side than trusted real estate expert Cory Green. You are sure to be in excellent hands when you work with someone who has personally been responsible for over $4 billion worth of real estate transactions, ranging from high rise development and construction projects to single family homes sales; including notable landmark projects in his local community.

Banking on two decades of experience in the Chicagoland real estate market, I confidently provide all of my clients with dedicated, personalized, and comprehensive white-glove service. Whatever you need to achieve in your real estate goals, you can count on me to deliver it.

Are you excited to begin your home search across these outstanding North Shore suburbs? Contact me to discuss your needs and preferences in an ideal house. I will provide you with the latest and most comprehensive information you need to start your search, and we can schedule a virtual home tour at your earliest convenience.

Listing your North Shore home? Allow me to lend my expertise, as well. From the essential steps in preparing your home to sell, to setting an attractive market-based asking price, to negotiating toward the best top dollar deal available for your beloved property, I will work relentlessly to make sure that you get only the most satisfying results.

If you are all set to begin your real estate journey in Chicago’s North Shore, all you need to do is let me know. Feel free to call me at 312.485.0897 or ask for more information via email at Cory(dotted)Green(at)compass(dotted)com.

With Cory

Cory offers an unparalleled level of service to his clients, and he would love to be a resource for you. Whether you are buying, selling, renting or investing; his level of professionalism and expertise will exceed your expectations and he will always help you achieve your goals.


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