Know Before You Go
THE most anticipated spot for a summer’s evening, Ravinia Festival is internationally renowned for showcasing outstanding performances by the world’s greatest artists with state-of-the-art sound systems. Enjoy this 36-acre park nestled in a gently wooded, enchanting area experiencing music that runs the gamut from pop to blues to folk & R&B and includes the annual summer residency of the nation’s finest orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Read on to get insider tips for the open air set-up at this beloved summer-long event including table set-ups for your picnic, menu ideas for pick-up, and logistics. Don’t have tickets yet? Check out the full schedule here.
The Basics: Before You Head to the Park
A bit of prep ensures you and your family or playmates will have a perfect time. Any day can be a weather adventure in the Midwest, so be ready for chillier temps and humid settings. Bring a sweater or a wrap, and maybe a spritz bottle to refresh, as well as an umbrella because the show must go on, rain or shine. Pack citronella candles and bug spray to help keep uninvited tiny visitors at bay. Bottle and wine openers are keys to a good time, if you are doing BYOB. Nifty fold-up wagons come in handy to help transport goodies. Come early (gates typically open at 5:00 pm for evening shows).
Getting Around and Other Logistics
Avoid traffic and save some spending money for food and merch by taking the Metra train’s Union Pacific North Line with stops running from Chicago’s Ogilvie Transportation Center to Kenosha and back. Your Ravinia ticket gets you onboard for free the day of your show. Better yet, the Ravinia Park stop lets you off right at the front gate. Or you can hop off at the Braeside stop for a short stroll to the park. Schedules vary based on day of the week, so we recommend checking Metra’s website for the most up-to-date options. If you’d rather drive, Ravinia offers on-site parking in their West Lot for $25 for most non-classical events and $10 for CSO concerts. The lot opens one hour prior to published public park opening time, 30 minutes prior for Kids Concerts, but be aware the lot can fill up quickly. Our pro tip is to arrive an hour before the grounds open, skip the main lot and park in the overflow parking at the Highland Park Metra parking lot. Hop on the free shuttle to the gate. Just be sure not to park on residential streets. Find more helpful details about all your parking, shuttle and drop off options here.
Setting the Scene
A Ravinia picnic is an event in and of itself. Whether you’ve got tickets for the lawn or pavillion show up early with all your favorite picnic fixings and spread out for a perfect summer night out. First up, grab your picnic baskets and coolers ready to fill with goodies. Sit in style on your favorite picnic blanket or lawn chairs which you can bring from home or rent at Ravinia (reserve online 24 hours ahead to save time, money, and ensure availability). If you don’t have a portable table, you can purchase or rent one at Ravinia (reserve those online, too). Discover Reserved Prime Lawn seating for groups of two, four, or six people just outside the Pavilion in a freshly redesigned, resized space; spot it on the Park Map.
Make the Most of Your Menu
The sky is the limit when picking picnic goods. Pack anything from cheese and crackers to a five-coarse meal. Don’t forget to pack cocktail makings and chilled bevvies to keep you cool before the sun goes down. Not in the mood to BYOP (bring your own picnic)? Pick up a delicious meal to-go at one of the many restaurants on Chicago’s North Shore. Or, feast at one of the onsite offerings with their plentiful Dining Options. For quick grab and go, stop by Ravinia Market for everything from tacos and burgers to pizza and ribs. Looking for more of a full sit-down dinner setup? Pre-book a table at Tree Top, serving up global cuisine from locally sourced produce with options for seating indoors our out. Alternatively, reserve a spot at Park View, housed on the second floor of the Dining Pavilion, which offers up an assortment of tasty seasonal fare. A more casual sit-down option can be found at Lawn Bar with delicious treats like the Summer Elote, Tuna Poke and Jerk Pork Sandwhich, not to mention a wide selection of beers, wines and craft cocktails. Walk-ins are welcome, but we recommend making a reservation. Call (847) 432-7550 to make a reservation at any of these restaurants.
Don’t forget to share your Ravinia experience with us by tagging #chicagonorthshore!
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