Evanston, IL waterfront

2021 Top 100 Best Places to Live In America Sponsored by: See homes for sale on Movoto by OJO

liv score
How We Calculate Our Data
Civics 77
Demographics 64
Economy 68
Education 66
Health 46
Housing 42
Infrastructure 55

#28. Evanston, IL

Located along the shores of Lake Michigan north of Chicago, Evanston, IL is a vibrant college town with a great downtown, beautiful green spaces and beaches and a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion. Northwestern University is a core piece of Evanston’s identity since the university was founded here nearly 10 years before the city of Evanston was incorporated. Evanston’s 77,000 residents are diverse and highly educated, with more than 67 percent holding at least a bachelor’s degree.

Top Colleges/Universities: Northwestern University

Top Industries & Employers: Higher education, health care, senior care and retail 

Weekend Plans: Spend the day on the lakefront, either lounging on the beach, swimming, taking a leisurely walk or riding your bike. Then head downtown for some shopping and catch one of Evanston’s many festivals, street fairs and concerts. 

Favorite Place to Feast: Mt. Everest Restaurant, a popular and flavorful spot for Indian, Nepalese and Himalayan cuisine.

Beloved Beverage: Craft brews from Temperance Beer Co., whose name is an ironic nod to the fact that Evanston residents played a big role in the temperance movement of the 1920s and 30s.

Outdoorsy Activity: Sailing, kayaking and standup paddleboarding on Lake Michigan at the Dempster Street Beach.

Rooftop Bar: Five & Dime, which has a massive rooftop terrace and serves up craft cocktails, beer, wine and casual munchies.  

Why Your Pet Will Love It, Too: Because it values its four-legged residents so much, the city is in the process of selecting a site for a brand-new dog park. 

Remote Work Perk: You’ll never be alone when you work from coffee shops or libraries in Evanston. Since Northwestern is on the quarter system, you’ll be surrounded by students feverishly studying for midterms and finals about every three weeks. Pro tip: The school’s libraries are free and open to the public, making great spots to get some work done.

One More Thing … Evanston is home to the world headquarters of Rotary International, the historic nonprofit with more than 35,000 clubs worldwide, all working toward the same goals of promoting peace, fighting disease, saving mothers and children, supporting local children, growing local economies, and providing clean water, sanitation and hygiene.

– Sarah Kuta

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