By Kevin Lankes


Naval Station Great Lakes is the home of the Navy’s only boot camp, and over 20,000 military and civilian personnel live and work here. It’s a large installation that presses up against Lake Michigan and is less than a 45-minute drive from Chicago. Because of its close proximity to a massive natural resource and a major U.S. metro area, there are endless options for entertainment available to sailors and their families. From taking advantage of the waters in a number of ways, to surveying Chicago attractions and cultural institutions, there’s no getting bored when looking for things to do near Naval Station Great Lakes. Know what you are looking for? Click the number(s) to go right to where you want to go: (1-3) Gyms (4-9) Nearby Attractions (10-12) Museums (13-17) Outdoor Recreation

Suggested Read:

Naval Station Great Lakes: In-Depth Welcome Center

Things to Do Near Naval Station Great Lakes


North Chicago

1. Gym 4
Dewey Ave, Building 4 North Chicago, IL 60088


: 1 (847) 688-7769 Gym 4 is a fantastic location for a truly complete workout. There are courts of all kinds here, including basketball, volleyball, and more. There’s a free weight room for pumping iron, a climbing wall and certified Navy instructors who are eagerly awaiting your arrival to put you through your paces in the Warrior Zone.
2. Great Lakes MWR Fieldhouse
Building 440, Evans Ave North Chicago, IL 60088


: 1 (847) 688-3419 The MWR Fieldhouse is a no-frills gym with minimal amenities. There are a handful of cardio machines available, including treadmills and stair masters. There’s also a weight room with everything you could need to maintain those gains. The Fieldhouse also contains a running track and a small four-lane pool.
3. The Fitness Center
2530 Paul Jones Street Building 28 2nd Floor North Chicago, IL 60088


: 1 (847) 688-5649 The Fitness Center at Great Lakes is an expansive facility with 75 machines and over ten thousand pounds of free weights. There are tons of cardio machines available as well. You can join in on classes here to shed some pounds and keep yourself in elite shape. They offer programs like Zumba and Tabata. Currently, the Fitness Center is temporarily closed due to Covid-19.

Chicago Attractions

Grant Park, Chicago IL
4. Grant Park
337 E Randolph St Chicago, IL 60601


: 1 (312) 742-3918 Grant Park in Chicago is one of the densest tourist destinations in the city. Inside the park, you’ll find the Art Institute of Chicago, the Millenium Park, the Buckingham Fountain, Hutchinson Field, the Chicago Lakefront Trail, and several marinas and harbors. It’s a beautiful park with a lot to see, and you could easily spend multiple hours here each day and still not see it all.
5. Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo
2197 N Stockton Dr Ste 2119 Chicago, IL 60614


: 1 (312) 742-2000 The Pritzker Family Children’s Zoo is an interactive educational experience for kids of all ages. They provide children with access to animals that live across North America in hands-on programs and exhibits. In addition to the exhibits, they also have several playgrounds on-site, like a climbing canopy and sapling forest, for kids to enjoy.


LEGOLAND Discovery Center, Schaumburg, IL
6. LEGOLAND Discovery Center
601 N Martingale Rd Schaumburg, IL 60173


: 1 (847) 592-9700 LEGOLAND Discovery Center is the place to be for the kids (and big kids) in your life. There are rides, 4D theaters, life-size mascots, a LEGO store, and more. Of course, you can build things here, and there are millions of LEGO bricks to work with. They give out trophies for the best creations. At the moment, the Discovery Center is not fully open due to local regulations, so make sure to check the website for their updated hours. International Sculpture Park,, Schaumburg, IL
7. International Sculpture Park
201 Schaumburg Ct Schaumburg, IL 60193


: 1 (847) 895-3600 The International Sculpture Park is an expansion of Chicago’s Athenaeum that blends the work of sculptors from across America and the world into the natural landscape of the area. There are picnic tables scattered along the paths for resting or stopping for a bite with the family. Dogs are welcome on the grounds most days, the exception being on days when there’s a special event taking place.


8. Waukegan Harbor Light
1 E Water St Waukegan, IL 60085 This lighthouse on Lake Michigan is a historical location and the perfect place for photography buffs. The location provides gorgeous views of the water, fishing boats, and all maritime activities. Come by for picnics, meditation, or selfies.

Naval Station Great Lakes

9. ITT Great Lakes Naval Station
Building 13 Naval Station Great Lakes


: 1 (847) 688-5417 The Tickets and Travel Office on base is the best place to start for getting you and your family access to the area’s best attractions. There are tons of brochures and discounts available here. The staff can help you sort out your highest priorities and best discounts to find you the most lucrative deals on the best attractions. They also have a handle on the best Naval Station Great Lakes Illinois events around the area. Great Lakes Naval Museum

Great Lakes Naval Museum

10. National Museum of the American Sailor

2531 Sheridan Rd Building 42 Great Lakes, IL 60088


: 1 (847) 688-3154 The National Museum of the American Sailor on base is a phenomenal look at the history of the Navy and its personnel. The exhibits here showcase the daily life of U.S. sailors from the origins of the branch to the present day. They offer educational and outreach programs along with special events for many different audiences.


11. Volo Auto Museum
27582 Volo Village Rd Volo, IL 60073


: 1 (815) 385-3644 The Volo Auto Museum holds 33 exhibits in over 35 acres of space. They have everything from military vehicles, to campers, to trains, to movie props, and much, much, more. They also have a kid’s zone where children can play in the arcade or climb on vehicle-inspired equipment while being entertained by an animatronic puppet show.

Lake Bluff

12. Lake Bluff History Museum
127 E Scranton Ave Lake Bluff, IL 60044


: 1 (847) 482-1571 The Lake Bluff History Museum is an in-depth look into the region’s past. The museum looks to incorporate the American experience into the exhibits here and holds some fascinating items that include a 1931 ice cream truck. Come check out their various collections and information on early settlers, architecture, area police departments, and more. Naval Station Great Lakes Outdoor Rec

Outdoor Rec

North Chicago

13. Neville Park
1500-1598 Glenn Dr North Chicago, IL 60064 Neville Park is very close to base and is a great location to take the kids. There’s a playground here with climbing, slides, and swings, as well as walking and running trails for the adults. It’s a nice open-air space away from base where you can unwind with the family.


14. Chicago Riverwalk
V9QH+7G Chicago, Illinois


: 1 (877) 300-6746 This urban outdoor rec option is a 1.25-mile path along the waterway leading to Lake Michigan. The path is carefully landscaped and leads through several important Chicago districts. There’s a dog park along the trail for those who are looking to exercise their pups. Take a run here along the water to keep up your cardio, or bring the family for a sunset waltz.


Mellody Farm Nature Preserve, Lake Forrest, IL
15. Mellody Farm Nature Preserve
350 Waukegan Rd Lake Forest, IL 60045


: 1 (847) 234-3880 Mellody Farm Nature Preserve in the Middelfork River Valley is a conservation site sitting on 76 acres of wetlands and prairies. It’s home to a wide variety of animal and bird habitats, including a renowned butterfly population. Take advantage of the nature center on the premises and the massive calendar of events and programs. There are a lot of kid-friendly educational activities to engage in here. You can feel free to use the grounds for hiking and skiing, along with other seasonal outdoor activities.
16. Dugdale Park
1525 W Dugdale Rd Waukegan, IL 60085


: 1 (847) 360-4725 Dugdale Park is a nice outdoor space with baseball and soccer fields. Bring your kids for casual games or stop by to watch the area leagues from the stands. There’s plenty of room here for outdoor exercise if that’s what you’re aiming for.


Betty Russel Community Park, Gurnee, IL
17. Betty Russell Community Park
5300 Pinewood Rd Gurnee, IL 60031


: 1 (847) 623-7788 Betty Russell Community Park is an expansive green space with a ton of outdoor rec options. There are fields of all kinds here, including baseball and soccer, an ice rink, and a skate park. There’s a playground area for kids, as well, and picnic tables for eating outside.


Naval Station Great Lakes is surrounded by various options for an active or educational lifestyle. With Chicago a short drive away, the number of entertainment venues are practically endless. Lake Michigan is a great place to find yourself splashing away, as well, or taking it all in from the scenic vistas that surround the waters. Make sure to take advantage of all the area has to offer and soak up all you can at Naval Station Great Lakes.  

The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.




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