One of the largest communities in the northwest suburban corridor of Chicago, Arlington Heights is a bustling suburb, with plenty of unique things to see and do.
Known for its charming and walkable downtown, its internationally famous racecourse, and its wide variety of restaurants, parks, and attractions, Arlington Heights is a great place to visit, or to call home.
So, what should be on your “bucket list” of things to do in Arlington Heights? Here are ten of the “can’t miss” destinations and experiences that make this Chicagoland community so special:
1.) Spend a Day at the Races at Arlington International Racecourse
One of the country’s most prestigious and beautiful racetracks, Arlington International Racecourse has been delighting visitors since it first opened all the way back in 1927. With its perfectly manicured lawns, expansive track, and enormous grandstand, Arlington International Racecourse is Chicagoland’s preeminent destination for thoroughbred racing. And with plenty of food, drink, and entertainment options on site, it’s the perfect place to spend a summer day with family and friends.
Want to learn more about the history of Arlington Heights’ crown jewel, or plan your visit? You can find out more at the park’s official site, available here.
2.) Enjoy the Views at Lake Arlington
One of the area’s most picturesque spots, Lake Arlington is a gorgeous man-made lake, surrounded by an immersive two-mile walking path. In addition to offering stunning views, Lake Arlington is one of the best boating spots in Arlington Heights, and you’ll often find kayaks, paddleboats, and sailboats out on the water. The lake even hosts youth sailing camps and classes. Beyond the water, visitors to Lake Arlington can enjoy an outdoor recreation area, a large fishing pier, and a concession stand serving up a variety of tasty bites.
To learn more about Lake Arlington, you can visit its official Arlington Heights Park District site, here.
3.) Shop, Dine, and Explore in Downtown Arlington Heights
Quaint boutiques, one-of-a-kind stores, and stellar dining options make Downtown Arlington Heights stand out. This incredibly walkable area boasts charming architecture and pristine streets, where visitors can access a little bit of everything — from art galleries, to piano lounges, to clothing shops, and so much more.
For a guide to some of the retail, restaurants, and experiences you can find in Downtown Arlington Heights, be sure to check out the Discover Arlington site, which offers guides on all the fun things to see and do in this popular shopping district.
4.) Experience Japanese Cuisine at Mitsuwa Marketplace
Japan is known for its incredible food, ranging from steaming bowls of noodles, to fresh sushi, to unique sweets and pastries. For anyone looking to get a taste of authentic Japanese cooking, Mitsuwa Marketplace in Arlington Heights is a must-see. This sprawling Japanese-style market — the largest in the Midwest — boasts an enormous food court, as well as a supermarket where you’ll find everything from sashimi, to fresh fruits and vegetables, to a varied assortment of sake, beer, and spirits. Mitsuwa also hosts an assortment of cultural events throughout the year, and is home to a number of speciality shops selling Japanese books, magazines, gifts, housewares, and more.
Ready to start planning your shopping list? You can learn more about all that Mitsuwa Marketplace has to offer through its official site, here.
5.) See a Show at the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre
Conveniently located in the heart of Arlington Heights, the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre hosts hundreds of performances every year, ranging from professionally staged musicals to stand-up comedy shows, and everything in between. In addition to putting on a variety of performances in its 329-seat theater, the Metropolis is an active part of the Arlington Heights community. The Centre is home to the School of the Performing Arts, and helps provide ongoing arts education by partnering with local schools, parks, and public agencies.
Want to see what’s playing? To view a performance calendar, purchase tickets, or learn more about the venue, you can visit the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre’s official site here.
6.) Travel Back In Time at the Arlington Heights Historical Museum
Curious about what life was like in Chicagoland during the Victorian era? The Arlington Heights Historical Museum gives visitors an unparalleled opportunity to get whisked back in time to the late 19th century. Housed at the site of the Frederick W. Müller home and soda pop factory, the Historical Museum showcases an ever-changing collection of exhibits spotlighting the history of the Arlington Heights community, and hosts a variety of educational events throughout the year, including a historic house walk and the Arlington Heights Irish Fest.
To learn more about the Historical Museum or plan your visit, you can check out this popular destination’s official site, here.
7.) Embrace Your Creative Side at an Arlington Heights Studio
Whether you’re looking to paint a masterpiece or handcraft a gift for someone special, Arlington Heights is full of unique spots perfect for getting in touch with your creative side. For all of the aspiring painters out there, try Bottle & Bottega, where instructors offer guidance on creating a beautiful work of art in a fun, comfortable setting. Looking to design and build a homemade sign, from scratch? Woodcrafters DIY Studio offers the unique chance to learn about woodwork and painting in fun, accessible workshops. Meanwhile, Thrown Elements Pottery offers informative classes, parties, and workshops, while Monart Drawing Studio teaches key art skills in a series of ongoing classes designed for students of all ages and experience levels.
8.) Celebrate the Community at an Arlington Heights Festival
Winter, spring, summer, and fall, Arlington Heights is home to a wide variety of festivals and community events. Throughout the year, the Arlington Heights community comes together to celebrate the holidays, enjoy the local arts scene, and embrace the unique food and drink destinations that make the community so special. Some highlights throughout the year include the Promenade of Art, the Garden Walk, and the Autumn Harvest Festival. Arlington Heights is also known for its summertime Frontier Days Festival, as well as the annual Arlington on Tap Craft Beer Fest.
9.) Hit the Links
The Arlington Heights community is full of great destinations for golf, whether you’re looking to perfect your swing, learn the basics, or play through 18 holes with your closest friends. For the full experience, check out Arlington Lakes Golf Club or Nickol Knoll Golf Club, which are both known for their fun gameplay and beautiful local views. For anyone looking to hone their skills, the Sunset Meadows Driving Range offers 25 hitting stations where golfers can relax and practice their swings, in addition to a putting green and lessons provided by expert PGA professionals. Then there’s Rolling Green Country Club, which features an 18-hole championship golf course with a caddy program at one of the Chicago area’s oldest private golf clubs.
10.) Set a New High Score
Looking for a fun night out? Arlington Heights is full of unique destinations perfect for making new memories with family and friends. If bowling is your game, Arlington Heights is home to some of the area’s best bowling alleys, including Arlington Lanes and the world-famous Beverly Lanes, a historic spot that has become a popular stop on the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) Tour calendar. For those who prefer a ticking clock, why not try an escape room experience? Break Escape and the Key Quest Escape Room each present visitors with the chance to work together to find clues and solve a series of puzzles, before time runs out.
Want to Keep Exploring Arlington Heights?
Want to get to know this charming Chicagoland community even better? To see market trends, properties for sale, and more, please visit our guide to Arlington Heights real estate, available here.