Photographer: Matthew Gilson
This Midwestern village reminds that the shores along our Great Lakes are home to a truly great "seaside" lifestyle. Originally envisioned in the 19th century as a resort fashioned after the Eastern Chautauqua movement that combined culture, education, and recreation, Lake Bluff also enjoyed colorful days as an alcohol-smuggling port during Prohibition.
These layers add to the charm of this town of about 5,800 residents. Grand homes, from sprawling Queen Anne to Midwestern Prairie-style, keep company with seasonal cottages, most in walking distance of the beach. Locals enjoy seven city parks, outdoor concerts on the village green, and the annual 4th of July parade. Plus, the schools are ranked among the best on our list.
Where to Stay: The Tudor-style Deer Path Inn is a historic retreat just south of town. Rooms are grand but cozy. Rates start at $170; 847/234-2280 or