Music and entertainment have been on tap at Ravinia, an open-air amphitheatre hosting a wide range of musical acts throughout the summer, since its opening in 1904. Though owners have come and gone, this more-than-100-year-old festival (the oldest in the country) keeps plugging away to add sweet notes to summer on Chicago's North Shore. More than 600,000 listeners attend up to 160 events through a season that features classical, jazz, music theater, and bands you might not expect, like the Steve Miller Band.
Dining at Ravinia
You can go lots of different ways when filling your need for food at Ravinia. You can fine-dine at one of their restaurants, or picnic in style. The surrounding North Shore neighborhoods are also filled with both neighborhood restaurants and world-class dining venues. It’s your choice, and there’s no wrong one to make.
Dining On The Grounds
You can do well on the dining side without ever leaving the Ravinia grounds.
* The Park View Restaurant packs a punch both with its fine-dining menu and view of all the goings on out on the grounds. If you're wondering if they offer wine pairings, they do, and this is the place for you.
* Mirabelle offers another option in the form of “Chef's Tables,” which essentially constitute of very rich and ably done buffet-style dining option with different themes throughout the Ravinia Festival 2007 season.
Picnicking In Style
Unlike some venues, sitting on the grass, drinking wine, and eating fried chicken is considered de rigueur.
* Order your fare through Ravinia Lawn Catering, and it couldn't be easier. From simple concert fare to elaborate tables of high-end food, this is a luxurious (read: pricey) option.
* A picnic's not a picnic without a picnic box, so custom order your own and have it waiting for you upon arrival at the park. Then, enjoy gourmet sandwiches and salads. Orders must be placed before 5 p.m. the day of the event.
* Your last option outside of hitting the grocery is The Park Market, with it's to-go servings of sandwiches, salads, dips and spreads. There is also a selection of wine, beer, and soda, here.
Dining Around the North Shore
Restaurants, from four-star to burger and hot dog stands, Highland Park has it all.
* Fight the crowd and love the food and service at Miramar, where critically acclaimed chef Gabriel Viti oversees all. A French bistro with Cuban leanings, Miramar is a scene.
* Enjoy the quaint patio and be surrounded by 100-year-old elm trees at South Gate Café. A great lunch spot, the food is straightforward American and ably prepared by the staff of chef John des Rosiers.
* Michael's Restaurant, set just off the main drag in Highland Park, is always packed, but the line moves quickly.
* A top fine-dining destination, Carlos' Restaurant is operated by Carlos and Debbie Nieto. Together with their staff, the Nieto's serve perfect, four-star contemporary French cuisine while exuding comfort and patience with their many regular customers.
Shopping at Ravinia
There are two gifts shops for you to visit, a walk-in affair in the dining pavilion that's loaded with Ravinia-themed goods, and another shop located behind the Martin Theatre . Think musical equipment and picnic gear, as well as unique Ravinia clothing and a selection of vintage Ravinia posters from past festivals. Also purchase artist CD's and DVD's.