Day Tripper: Doing It Right In Evanston

best of evanston illinois
We tend to associate the suburbs with the mundane; minivans, mom jeans, and kid-friendly restaurants with chicken fingers on special. But could it be possible that legit hotspots actually exist outside city limits? We think so. Evanston is just ten miles north of Chicago, and definitely worth taking a ride on the El or hopping in the car to switch things up for a day. Though it's home to Northwestern University, Evanston has much more than your standard, greasy, college cuisine and bookstores lined with sports apparel. You'll no doubt run into the occasional frat-tastic crowd, but instead of rolling your eyes, ask 'em what's up. Evanston's got a lot to love, and the locals are pleased as punch to point you in the right direction. And so are we!
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1st Stop: Quick Breakfast At Bagel Art
Bagel Art offers made-to-order bagel sandwiches, freshly whipped organic cream cheeses, and the best warm, homemade cookies we’ve ever tasted. The café recently moved to a larger location right by the Purple Line train stop, where you’ll find a take-one-leave-one bookshelf and ample space to devour a good book—and a toasted sesame bagel with spinach artichoke spread. Nomz! Bagel Art, 615 Dempster Avenue, Evanston, IL; 847-864-8700.
2nd Stop: Shop At Apple The Second
Now that you're fueled by coffee and bagels, you'll have plenty of energy to check out one of Evanston's best boutiques, Apple The Second. Nothing but compliments about the staff reach our ears, and casual window shoppers and browsers instantly become devoted habitués after perusing their eclectic selection of dresses and jewelry. Who knows, it could be the reason you plan a day trip part deux! Apple The Second, 745 West Howard Street, Evanston, IL; 847-424-0786.
3rd Stop: Lunch At Edzo’s Burger Shop
You know that a local burger is kind of a big deal when Bon Appétit and New York Magazine sing its praises. Edzo himself grinds premium beef fresh every morning and takes all orders with a giant smile. If burgers aren’t your thing (lighten up, Miss Elliptical, Time Out voted Edzo's the best guilt-free burger), you won’t be able to resist a Nutella Milkshake or some White Truffle Fries. Edzo's Burger Shop, 1571 Sherman Avenue, Evanston, IL; 847-864-3396.
4th Stop: Customized Full Body Massage At Egea Spa
People in the 'burbs get stressed out, too, y' know. And when they do, they head straight to Egea Spa. One gander at the menu, and our eyes gravitated toward the Customized Full Body Massage. At $85 for 60 minutes, we can't think of a better way to ease the tension. Make sure your day trip includes a moment (or two) to relax. Egea Spa, 1521 Sherman Avenue, Evanston, IL; 847-332-2772.
5th Stop: Dinner Date At The Cellar
It’s not often that a posh restaurant has an outpost next-door that is just as delicious, but not as pricey. The Cellar shares a kitchen (and chef) with The Stained Glass, but has more casual, tapas-style dining with an eclectic menu perfect for sharing, and a sexy ambiance (dim lighting, hushed atmosphere, subtle mood music...you get the picture). It’s the perfect place for a date. The Cellar, 820 Clark Street, Evanston, IL; 847-864-8678.
6th Stop: See A Movie At Evanston Century 12
When Yelp reviewers can't stop gushing about the comfy seats, you've hit cinematic gold. Take in a movie at Evanston Century 12 and unwind. The best part about this 18-screen wonder? It's known for showing the big blockbusters and the indie films your know-it-all coworker can't stop talking about. There's something for every taste, we're just hoping we don't take a mini snooze in those storied seats! Evanston Century 12, 1715 Maple Avenue, Evanston, IL; 847-491-9751.
Bonus Stop: Dessert At Bistro Bordeaux
This classic French bistro may have an old-school feel, but Chicago Magazine just declared it a Best New Restaurant. Bistro Bordeaux’s fine dining is great for a special occasion (think roast chicken, mussels and frites), but we all know that the crème de la crème of French cuisine is dessert. The restaurant’s extensive dessert menu includes a dark-chocolate fondant with raspberry coulis (served tableside), and a brioche bread pudding with poached Granny Smith apples and red wine caramel sauce. See? The suburbs aren't so bad, after all. Bistro Bordeaux, 618 Church Street, Evanston, IL; 847-424-1483.
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