Day Pass: 10 Things To Do In Evanston

The gorgeous city of Evanston is best known for Northwestern University — but trust us when we say it's so much more than purple-face-painted frat boys at a Wildcats game. Along with jaw-dropping homes, this North Shore suburb has a great art scene and to-die-for eats worth plenty of repeat visits. But, if one trip is all you can afford (for now), we've planned the perfect, fun-filled day to make sure you hit all our favorite spots.
With just a 30-minute ride on the Purple Line, you can experience Evanston's cultural offerings at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art. And, because we know you love to shop, we've sourced a couple of stores that are worth the trek alone. Feeling travel fatigue? Don't worry — from satisfying your sweet tooth at Bennison's Bakery to the comfort food at Found Kitchen & Social House, heading home hungry is simply not an option.
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Start your day off by getting a cup o' joe and a delectable pastry or doughnut from Bennison’s Bakery, making tummies happy since 1938. The sweet and savory croissants are award-winning, the iced custard-filled bismarcks are beyond sinfully delicious, and who could go wrong with a good ol' cinnamon roll or danish? Oh wait…then there’s the bear claws…

Bennison’s Bakery, 1000 Davis Street (between Maple and Oak avenues); 847-328-9434.

Photographed by Lauren Schiappa
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While your mind is sharp and alert (as long as you didn’t O.D. on the sugary donuts, that is), make your next stop the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art of Northwestern University. If you’re used to the high-cost admission at Chicago museums, you’ll love the fact that this cultural institution is free — which is pretty rad considering there are over 5,000 prints, drawings, photos, and sculptures showcased from world-renowned artists. There are four galleries reserved for temporary exhibitions such as the current fiber art of Chicago artist Theo Leffmann, among others.

Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, 40 Arts Circle Drive (at Campus Drive); 847-491-4000.

Photo: Courtesy of the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art
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You didn’t think we’d skip out on shopping, did you? Adorable boutique Apple The Second carries a wide range of designers from all over the U.S. of A, Canada, and Europe, as well as our own backyard. The clothing, shoes, and accessories are definitely not cookie cutter, and if you need help styling the perfect ensemble for that hot date (or work), the owner, Maria, is an absolute delight. It’s a good thing this little hot spot isn’t in the city, or we’d be dropping dough every week.

Apple The Second, 745 West Howard Street (between Callan and Chicago avenues); 847-424-0786.

Photo: Courtesy of Apple The Second
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It’s hard to find a good bookstore (or any bookstore!) nowadays, so when we find one we love, making a stop there is a must. Howard’s Books is definitely organized chaos, but you’ll most likely walk away with something, considering there are over 20,000 titles (gently used) on its shelves and there is an incredible ongoing sale: All stock over one year old is 50% off...all the time.

Howard’s Books, 2000 Maple Avenue (between Foster and Hamlin streets); 847-475-3445.

Photographed by Lauren Schiappa
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By now, it’s definitely time for a little sustenance, but to ensure that you don’t take too much time out of your day, make it a quick bite at Soulwich. There are a variety of Asian/fusion sammies to choose from, but our pick is the Indonesian barbecue, made with your choice of filling (steak, pork, chicken, or veggie), pear juice, sesame seeds, fresh ginger, garlic, and soy sauce.

Soulwich, 1634 Orrington Avenue (between Davis Street and Elgin Road); 847-328-2222.

Photographed by Lauren Schiappa
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After lunch, continue your shopping journey at Maris Parie. This quaint, well-appointed boutique is actually owned by a Parisian (can you guess her name?) who has had an appreciation for fashion and design ever since eyeballing her mom’s costumes when she was a stage actress in France. Don’t worry — you won’t look like a cast member from The Pirates of Penzance by shopping here. Instead, you’ll find a nice selection of feminine clothing, accessories, gifts, and select vintage items. The shop is small, so leave that big purse at home.

Marie Parie, 508 Main Street (between Hinman and Chicago avenues); 847-492-9094.

Photo: Courtesy of Marie Parie
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Beat the late-afternoon slump and head to Kafein for a pick-me-up. The cozy and hip shop has all your traditional coffee concoctions, as well as java alternatives like a delicious Mexican hot chocolate. Should you want a little something for your sweet tooth, there are a variety of cake, pie, an ice cream creations to choose from. Just be careful not to spoil your dinner, k?

Kafein, 1621 Chicago Avenue (between Davis and Church streets); 847-491-1621.

Photographed by Lauren Schiappa
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Modify your Spotify use with a stop at used music store 2nd Hand Tunes. You’ll find a wide assortment of new and used records, cassettes, CDs, DVDs — basically anything that’s going to make you feel old. Ready to part with that A-ha album from junior high? 2nd Hand pays cash for all your oldies and soon-to-be dearly departed goodies.

2nd Hand Tunes, 800 Dempster Street (between Elmwood and Sherman avenues); 847-491-1690.

Photo: Courtesy of Second Hand Tunes
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After a long day on your feet, settle in for a leisurely dinner at one of Evanston’s hottest new restaurants, Found Kitchen & Social House. Executive chef Nicole Pederson uses local farmers for a majority of her dishes, hence the resto’s tagline “local love, local food.” The menu focuses on comfort food like root vegetable stew, roasted chops and fish, knife and fork sandwiches, and flatbreads for, um, lighter appetites. The space is super cozy, so grab one of the comfy couches or chairs and stick around for an after-dinner drink.

Found Kitchen & Social House, 1631 Chicago Avenue (between Davis and Church streets); 847-868- 8945.

Photo: Courtesy of Found Kitchen & Social House
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You can’t beat dinner and a movie — especially if it’s at the Evanston Century 12. The theater boasts a whopping 18 screens, showing everything from the latest blockbusters (better get ‘em all in before the Oscars) to cool indie films if you’re not into Hugh Jackman. The seats are luxurious and if you’re still hungry, there are enough food options to rival a carnival.

Evanston Century 12, 1715 Maple Avenue (between Railroad Avenue and Clark Street); 847-491-9751.

Photo: Courtesy of City of Evanston