“What, what? Forbes ranks Lake County No. 9 among the most miserable places to live in the U.S. We beg to differ. Great libraries here, among other things.”
That’s how Vernon Area Library staff reacted when Forbes made that announcement last week. Lake County was right up there with Detroit and Chicago as one of the most miserable places to live. Forbes also called Lake County a city. Tsk tsk.
The Lake County Journal staff thought it was important to defend this beautiful county in which we all live and work. Readers also chimed in via Facebook on why they love living in Lake County.
Here’s why we all think Lake County is a wonderful place to live.
Lake County has it all
We have wonderful access to the city via Metra. We have a network of roadways that are being improved for the benefit of travelers. We have shopping, recreation and great restaurants. We have lakes, ponds, forest preserves and great open green spaces. Tell me: what’s miserable about that?
–Sue Markgraf, Mundelein
In May, this is the most beautiful place in the country. Hundreds of beautiful birds migrate through the county along the DesPlaines River valley. They’re all singing in spring, too. I wouldn’t be anywhere else in May than in Lake County. And in June, the place I want to be is at Rollins Savanna in Grayslake, where a suite of gorgeous birds breed here. In June you can hear bobolinks, Eastern meadowlarks and pied-billed grebes singing at dawn. My idea of heaven is standing in front of a wetland on a foggy spring morning at Rollins Savanna and hearing the pied-bill grebes call while the sun rises and melts away the mist.
--Sheryl DeVore, editor, Shaw Media, Mundelein
Boating, fishing, camping
Lake County is the Land of Lakes!! Some 44,000 boats are registered to the Chain O’ Lakes alone. Waukegan Harbor is the place to go to fish Lake Michigan or tour the beautiful beaches...[There’s] Chain O’ Lakes State Park to the west for camping, fishing and picnics and Fish Lake Beach and all the lakes from west to east that seem to be center of every town. And most have beaches and playgrounds for children along with a boat launch and pier. Water ski? Take your pick of lakes to set sail! What county has the most waterfront restaurants that you can actually pull up to in a boat and enjoy so much good food and listen to real talented bands perform right on a deck on the lake... Lake County is becoming one of the largest whole county resorts in North America, with Six Flags and KeyLime Cove to two-mile Gurnee Mills which is a great place to walk it all off in the cold winter after packing on the pounds of the holidays. Lake County has so much open space, trail parks that invite you into a serene and beautiful experience with nature. [You can take] a walk along the sandy beach in Zion in our lakefront state park, or to the streets of Long Grove for a taste of sweets and chocolate-covered strawberries, or over to the east side with art fairs all along the North Shore. [There’s also] music concerts and dance, and sitting in the lawns of Ravinia with a bottle of wine breaking bread with friends...
We have family in beautiful LA, New York, Texas and Chicago. And this is their vacation destination with orders from my grandson to never move. And, he lives near Disney Land.
[I} can’t forget all our wonderful supporters of the arts who have contributed so much to keep theater alive in the Genesee in Waukegan, the Marriott in Lincolnshire, the theaters of CLC in Grayslake and all the other little village theaters in every community in Lake County.
–Richard Zdeb, Round Lake Park
Key Lime Cove, trees
Several of our towns are Tree City USAs [so there’s] lots of greenery....great mix up upscale and family budget restaurants, shopping, and entertainment areas. KeyLime Cove is in Lake County, and we were voted the No. 2 indoor waterpark hotel in the whole world. No. 1 in the U.S. Six Flags Great America is one of the most profitable Six Flags parks in the Six Flags family because of its quality and size.
–Jennifer Visocnik, Round Lake, Key Lime Cove employee
Really? When did Forbes become the home town (or county) experts? When you can enjoy going anywhere without worrying about bodily harm, you live in Lake County.
–David Brimm, Deerfield
Permanent summer camp
I love living in Lake County because it is a family-oriented place, less than an hour from a major metropolis. I live on a lake and feel as if I am on vacation year round. In the summer people jet ski, boat, tube, fish, swim and sunbathe. In the winter, they ice skate, snowmobile, cross country ski, ride ATVs and ice fish. Growing up in New York, I cherish Lake County. When my husband and I first moved here, we felt like we were kids back in summer camp. The only place I would trade my lakefront home for would be a southern Cali oceanfront home, but for now I will enjoy the swans in the fall and the fireflies on those hot summer nights.
--Susan Russell, Lindenhurst
Great place to grow up
Lake County was a great place to grow up, with so many parks in walking or bike riding distance of my childhood home in Gages Lake. It’s a fun place to be a kid, with Six Flags in Gurnee, Kristoff’s in Round Lake, and back in the 90s, Discovery World and Chimpy’s over in Vernon Hills. The schools are great and the diversity of the county prepares local kids to meet the world as adults.
Whatever mood you’re in, you can satisfy your cultural hunger here. I can head over to Libertyville if I want lunch and boutiques, or to Waukegan for a more urban, artistic adventure. When friends visit from out of state, I’m not sure where to take them – on a shopping journey from Gurnee Mills to Westfield, or out to a picnic at Independence Grove.
--Jesse Carpender, reporter, Shaw Media, Gages Lake
Lake Michigan, art
I enjoy being just steps away from Lake Michigan from my home in Waukegan. On the weekends in the summer my husband and I can enjoy the beach without the more crowded beach conditions you’d encounter in a big city. The city of Waukegan also hosts a monthly ArtWauk event, during which several galleries open up their doors and showcase a variety of local artists’ work. I also love driving past the many local forest preserves and seeing the season’s effect on the trees and wildlife.
– Cassandra Dowell, managing editor, Shaw Media, Waukegan
Mix of urban, rural
I am not a native, but my husband is. I was married here and raised my kids here. I can’t really imagine living anywhere else that offers such a wealth of possible activities. The best, by far, are the open spaces protected and managed by the Lake County Forest Preserve District...Entertainment abounds, from live bands at small venues to larger draws at Genesee Theatre. The shopping choices are also ideal, and if you don’t care for the big box stores, there are still some mom and pop shops.... Nearly every town has its own festival day, full of food, music and family fun, just the thing to combat a boring weekend.Lake County also works to preserve its history, with historical societies in nearly every town collecting the pieces of the past for the future generations...It’s the mix of urban and rural I like the most, a place where you can be alone in the forest one minute, and at a crowded mall the next.
--Dawn Kelley, designer, Shaw Media, Gurnee
One early morning I went to the Illinois Beach State Park in Zion to watch the sunrise. Watching, hearing and experiencing the waves...was a kind of peace no words can describe. After the sun made its way up and lit the waves and the sand around me, I noticed there was a rainbow. I gazed a little longer and then turned around to make my way back to my car when lo and behold, I was met with a second rainbow...I love that people of all races work and play alongside one another... We have amazing architecture, and Ray Bradbury once walked and was inspired by the streets I walk on now...Sure, the weather doesn’t play nice with us all the time. But it’s a good representation of Lake Countians. We’re sunny sweet, but can get tough as nails like the blizzard we just got.
--Yadira Sanchez Olson, reporter, Shaw Media, Beach Park