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boating, fishing, night life, and restaurants


Boaters must pay an access fee to use the lake.

Full Review

Located about an hour's drive northeast of Chicago, Chain O'Lakes State Park, at 8916 Wilmot Road in
Spring Grove, IL, is a wonderful place to vacation this summer. The park offers camping, horseback riding, hiking and bike trails through beautiful prairie and woodlands, free boat launch, picnic areas, fishing and even a store and concession stand.

The Chain O'Lakes or Fox Chain is a series of about a half dozen lakes fed by the Fox River that are interconnected and it is also known to be the busiest inland waterway in the US. The lakes have a lot to offer. On the Chain you can enjoy fishing, boating, dining, tubing, water-skiing, and even bar hopping.

One of the first unique sights a boater will discover after launching their boat at the Chain O'Lakes State Park, is Blarney's Island located in Grass Lake. This is not truly an island but is actually a man made bar floating on the water which is accessible only by boat. If you don't own a boat you can visit the "island" by way of the ferry boat from Port O Blarney which is a restaurant and bar located nearby at 27843 West Grass Lake Road
Antioch, IL. Blarney's Island not only has live entertainment throughout the summer on the weekends, they are also the sight of weekly speed boat races each Thursday night throughout the summer.

On the Chain O'Lakes you find wildlife, cranes, herons and deer on most any visit. In addition, the area is known for it's abundant supply of fresh water lotus flowers and water lilys. If wildlife, is not your interest you'll find a never ending party on Petite Lake to the North. Boaters throughout the summer hold both planned and impromptu parties in this spot, tying their rigs up together for fun on the sandbar.

On most days you'll be able to find a hot dog boat selling Chicago Hot Dogs and other treats and if hang around a bit longer there is even a Pizza Boat from time to time delivering Chicago Pizza from a local restaurant in Fox Lake to boaters on the chain.

Too busy to pack a picnic lunch? No problem. Boaters can easily boat on up to McDonald's while on Fox Lake. Located near the Fox Waterway agency on the South Shore of Fox Lake you'll find this local fast food favorite and plenty of boat parking. You can of course dine in or eat out at one of the picnic tables where on many days you'll find plenty of hungry sea gulls and other birds looking for your scraps. I'm sure that feeding them is discouraged, but it's nevertheless a common occurrence and the reason for the large number of birds in the vicinity.

There are plenty of grown up stops on the Chain O'Lakes too. Famous Freddie's Roadhouse is a rocking spot to stop for live entertainment in the evening or for an adult beverage and great scenery right on the waterfront. Famous Freddie's is located on Pistakee Lake in the village of Fox Lake and is also accessible by land at 510 S. Park off of Kings Road in Fox Lake, Illinois.

Another fun place to stop is El Puerto Mexican Restaurant located 200 N. Forest Ave. in Fox Lake. This Mexican themed restaurant features quality Mexican dishes and American favorites as well. There is plenty of atmosphere and seating on the waterfront on Nippersink Lake near Mineola Bay. There is a nice dining room inside as well and the restaurant features "Award Winning Margaritas."

Throughout the Chain O'Lakes you'll find plenty to enjoy whether you are visiting the state park, boating or traveling through the area by land. This is a great place to relax or party down in the summer where fun on the Fox is the name of the game.

In Closing