Illinois Beach Hotel – A Gem on Lake Michigan

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Here it is Wednesday night date night and we couldn’t find anything to do. It was getting late and we want to stay close to home the night had to be fun and a little romantic.  A car show at the Illinois Beach Hotel in Zion, Illinois would be fun and fit the bill for a good night.  The Illinois Beach Hotel is located in the Illinois Beach State Park on Lake Michigan.  Seeing as it was a short drive of 10-minutes and we love old cars, it seemed like a great event for this lovely summer evening!  Little did we know the evening would be one of the most memorable date nights ever.

We arrived at the car show to find out the car show was free.  Nothing around here is free!  How pleasantly surprising.  The car show was free, so why not get a Seabreeze for me and a beer for Fred.  The bartender was chatty and told us they had a special at the Illinois Beach Hotel restaurant tonight.  The special sounded too good to be true…two Filet Mignons for $25.00.  Can this be true? A free car show and a budget gourmet meal all set on the lovely Lake Michigan! 

Clouds and bar

We wandered the car show and we loved seeing all the amazing cars in the show. The owners came from the local area and talking with them was fun! We actually found a couple that lives just blocks away.  The show boasted many classic cars from trucks to El Caminos.   They even had a homemade motorcycle.

Chevy Classic Truck

Homemade Motorcycle

While we were walking, we reminisced and dreamed of owning a 1969 Buick Skylark. It would have to be red with a white top and white leather interior. This is the car Fred owned when we first met and when we were first married. That Buick Skylark took us on many fun adventures in our first years together and holds a special place in our hearts.  Maybe someday we will find one for sale at a price we can afford…back to reality!

Illinois Beach Hotel Entrance

After we were done with the auto show we walked to the Illinois Beach Hotel for dinner.  When we entered the lobby of the hotel, we were cheerfully greeted by a wonderful young lady. We asked for an outside seat and laughed, it looked like it was going to rain any minute.  She cheerfully sat us outside and told us that if it started to rain we could move inside.

View from Balcony at Illinois Beach Hotel Restaurant Lake Michigan


I can’t even describe the beautiful view from our patio table!  Lake Michigan is as close to the ocean as you can get in the Midwest.  The Illinois Beach Hotel is the only hotel on Lake Michigan in the state of Illinois.  Who knew this treasure was so close?

Illinois Beach Hotel Beach

The waiter, Oscar, came and we gave our drink order.   Fred asked for a Sweet Old Fashion and I ordered a Cabernet. (As a side note, generally when you arrive the busboy will bring you water and homemade potato chips, but there was a lot going on when we arrived and we did not get the chips or water.  When he realized the oversight, Oscar offered to get them for us and we happily declined, dinner would be here soon. However, they looked amazing and what a great perk!).

Whisky Old Fashion and Wine

Oscar delivered our drinks to the table and relayed that the bartender used to work at a country club and was used to making Old Fashions.  Oscar waited at the table to make sure both drinks were acceptable.  My wine was good and Fred also enjoyed his Old Fashioned and said, “It is the best one I have ever had”, he actually had two.  After our drink, we ordered the dinner special of two Filets for $25.00, although we didn’t have high hopes that the steaks would be good, or cooked correctly. After we ordered it started to rain and we quickly moved into the restaurant from the patio without any problems. Oscar and the hostess were very accommodating.  In fact, the view from inside was as amazing as the view from outside.

Pleasantly Surprised!

The filets arrived and it was a happy surprise!  The filet was actually 8 ounces of juicy, perfectly cooked, tender meat. I cannot remember the last time I had a filet at a restaurant this perfect!  In addition, it came with a baked potato. Way too much food for me!   

The night was so perfect and after the delicious dinner, we moved to the Illinois Beach Hotel bar area for another drink. We sat and talked and enjoyed our view of the lake.  I wish I had found out the bartenders name, she was such a personable young lady. We actually sat there for about an hour enjoying our time at the lake.

The bar at The Illinois Beach Hotel

All in all, we had a perfect dinner and enjoyed the evening! I would definitely recommend the Illinois Beach Hotel restaurant for dining!  The beautiful view of the lake, the very friendly and accommodating staff, and outstanding food! We will definitely be back in the near future.  

The Illinois Beach Hotel is located midway between Chicago and Milwaukee at the Illinois Beach State Park.  Its claim to be a hidden treasure is true.  If you are looking for a wedding venue with a beautiful view of Lake Michigan, this is your place. 

At the time I am writing this post, the restaurant at the hotel has two great specials: Two Filet Mignon Dinners for $25.00 Special every Wednesday and a Two Prime Rib Dinners for $25.00 Special on Saturdays.  Guess where we are eating this Saturday…

The challenge is on!  Can Midwest Recipes re-create a meal this great for this cheap?  Stay tuned for the recipes!

Have you ever stumbled upon a deal that you couldn’t believe was true?  Tell me about it!

Illinois Beach Hotel – Link to the Restaurant

You can read about more of our dining adventures in Illinois by clicking these links:

The Backyard Steakpit – Gurnee, Illinois

Chicago Woodfire Pizza – Gurnee, Illinois at Gurnee Mills Mall

Choppers Bar and Grill – Antioch, Illinois

Route 41 Roadhouse – Wadsworth, Illinois

Kumas Corner- Burgers and Bands – Chicago, IL

After the Fox – McHenry, Illinois

Stonecreek – Beach Park, Illinois



  1. Tammy Staley April 10, 2019 at 10:36 pm

    What a great find and not too far from me! Thank you for sharing this wonderful location I am always looking for new places to see!

    1. Midwest Recipes April 11, 2019 at 3:49 pm

      It is great! If you visit it sometime let me know I will meet you there!

  2. Trina March 17, 2019 at 1:27 am

    What a great read! We had filet last night ours was 8oz @ $25.00 each last night…. What a deal for real!!!

  3. Colleen November 17, 2018 at 7:58 am

    How exciting to find a wonderful adventure so close to home. The scenery looks amazing. It isn’t too far from me either so I will keep this in mind.

    1. Linda November 27, 2018 at 8:41 am

      If you are ever in the area contact me and I will take you there! It is amazing!

  4. Edel August 12, 2018 at 6:02 pm

    I truly believe that those impromptu destinations turn out to be wonderful places. Beautiful views of the lake!

  5. Sandy August 11, 2018 at 4:14 am

    What a wonderful find! I always love discoveries like these-it’s sometimes tempting to keep them a secret, tho. ??


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