This Downtown’s a ‘Great Place to Play’

Visit downtown Crystal Lake on any given day and you’ll see families with children, groups of girlfriends, couples, teens, singles, grandparents – all of them in search of a good time.

What they find is a neighborhood with dining, retailers, services and entertainment in abundance. And, it’s the sort of place people drive to visit, for a night out or a fun day trip.

“Crystal Lake is a good place to live – that’s our town motto. But the downtown is also a great place to visit,” says Joy Neal, executive director of the Downtown Crystal Lake organization. “Between the Metra station and the bike path, there are plenty of ways to get here and there’s lots to explore and experience once you arrive.”

Summertime brings the Downtown Farmers Market every Saturday morning, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. It runs weekly from June 15 through Sept. 28 in Depot Park, located at the end of Williams Street. There’s an emphasis on things that are homemade and homegrown, and there are activities for children, too.

Sidewalk sales pop up from time to time as a testament to the city’s abundance of hometown merchants, like Marvin’s Toy Store, Kalck’s Butcher Shop, Heisler’s Bootery, Wear Did U Get That and The Green Read.

Mixed among these retailers are family-friendly restaurants like Rookie’s Pub & Grill, Georgio’s Chicago Pizzeria and Benedict’s La Strata. Pots & Pies is perfect for snacktime pastries. And you can’t beat date nights at places like Jude’s, Da Baffone and Duke’s Alehouse & Kitchen.

Happy-hour specials and food truck nights make a great time out with friends at Crystal Lake Brewing.

With all that activity, the best parking spots fill up fast – although there’s plenty of space if you know where to look.

People who love biking find there’s always easy access, especially considering that the Prairie Trail cuts right through downtown.

“I think downtown is a complete gem,” says Neal. “The lake town vibes and historic downtown make this city really special. Crystal Lake is just a fun place to be.”

Find a full list of fun ideas at