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Highland Park, Chicago, Evanston, Deerfield (Illinois)

Going to Ravinia Festival. Should I bring a picnic or buy a box dinner?

I'm picking up my daughter at 2:30p at O'Hare, headed to a hotel in Deerfield, Il (close to the venue for Ravinia).  Show is at 7:30p on July 5.  I've never been there.  It says there's parking available, but it fill up quickly...what time should we arrive (will have a car)?  Should I bring a picnic dinner?  Or is it easier to go to a restaurant on the grounds?  Any experienced Ravinia-enjoyer, please bring it on.  We don't want to hassel, but don't want to spend a ton of money if we don't have to...opinions?  Thanks, Gail

4 Answers

top answer by
Emily from Los Angeles

Hi Gail! Was just at Ravinia last week, a perfect summertime activity! 


I'd recommend packing a good picnic - sandwiches or a pre-made pasta salad from a nearby deli or grocery store, cheese and crackers, beverages, as well as plates, napkins, cups, utensils (although I'm sure one of your picnicking neighbors will have extras). Folks go all out with their spreads! 


Bring a tarp or blanket to sit on and sweatshirt optional if you get cold at night. You can also rent chairs and a low table for your picnic at the venue, just head to the left when you enter.  


Parking shouldn't be too difficult, but you can also take the Metra which stops right in front of the gates. 


Let me know if I can help further. Have a blast!

5 thanks

answered by
Sharon from Riverwoods

Ravinia is incredibly crowded these days. It's so popular. Definitely bring your own delicious picnic fare including drinks and deserts. Include all your utensils and glassware and a garbage bag for clean up. Candles are allowed. You will see some of the set ups are very elaborate it's definitely a fun and unique venue. Food and wine at the park are pricey So bringing your own is a wise choice. Plus then you have all your favorites.

Another suggestion is to find a spot on the lawn near a walkway. On a busy night blankets and chairs are butt up to each other with no room to walk to a path. It doesn't matter if you got there early.

3 thanks

answered by
Emily from Chicago

Hi Gail-

I echo the sentiment of bringing your own food. The concierge at your hotel should be able to make a recommendation on where to grab a picnic dinner. In addition to food you can bring in alcohol so grab a nice bottle of wine if that's your thing.

I also agree taking the Metra (train) is a convenient option as it literally drops you off at the front gates. Note: the train has a different schedule on concert nights so be sure to check closer to the date. 

That said, while the train is convenient, Ravinia is big, gets really crowded and sections of the lawn do not have views of the stage. So I would prioritize getting there early over your mode of transportation.

Ravinia Festival is a unique a beautiful concert venue, enjoy!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Ravinia Festival (attraction)
2 thanks

answered by
ross from Chicago

Buy food and picnic before you go. Not much around to pick up food at. 

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