Urban sophistication meets suburban relaxation in downtown Evanston

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07/18/2010 Evanston The riders of the Men's Pro event fan out along Orrington Ave. during the North Shore Grand Prix in Evanston, IL on Sunday, Jul. 18, 2010. (Shauna Bittle/for STM) Third running of pro-amateur elite bike race in Evanston. At 4 p.m., the women pros race...the men follow about an hour and half later. They ride a .9 mile circuit with one of the most visual spots near Burger King at Clark and Sherman where they sweep around the curve.

Fountain Square Art Festival

June 25-26

A summer tradition organized by the Evanston Chamber Of Commerce for more than three decades. This is the largest and oldest juried art fair on the North Shore. More than 225 white tents lining the streets of downtown Evanston feature beautiful and unique works of art. Besides the main attraction of world-class art, the Fountain Square Arts Festival offers a vast array of entertainment. Make it a family day. Kids will enjoy the children’s art tent that offers art lessons and projects.

It’s Thursday, Let’s Dance!

Thursday evenings, July 14- Aug. 18

Now in its twelfth year, Let’s Dance! will be heating up downtown Evanston on six consecutive Thursday nights. Come get your groove on to swing, big band, R&B, Latin, oldies and rock/pop classics. Each week, enjoy dancing to a live band and instruction with a professional dance teacher. Look for the dance party at 909 Davis St. Plaza, the intersection of Maple Avenue and Church Street, at the Davis Street Metra stop (between American Apparel and Chef’s Station’s patio). The free dance lesson starts at 6 p.m.Live music is from 7-9 p.m. The 2011 lineup: July 14 – Angel Melendez; July 21 – Shirley King; July 28 – The Flat Cats; Aug. 4 - Chip Ratliff & The Electric Chittlin’ Stew; Aug. 11 – Sidemen Big Band; Aug. 18 – Bopology.

Evanston Grand Prix Bike Race

July 17

Grab a spot as a spectator for this annual pro bike race through the streets of downtown Evanston. The streets are transformed into a competitive grand prix racecourse where you can enjoy amateur kids and adult races as well as pro races featuring Olympic level men and women.

Super Sidewalk Sale

July 22-24

Close to 200 Evanston merchants in two adjoining districts — downtown Evanston and Chicago/Dempster — will offer deals on summer inventory, featuring the ideal mix of independent shops and your favorite national chain stores. Expect to find great deals on apparel, shoes, one-of-a-kind accessories and decorative arts, including the best in specialty-designed, handcrafted goods. Resale shoppers, antique-lovers and vintage hunters will find a variety of shops to explore.

Evanston Holiday Tree Lighting

Nov. 22, 5:30-6:30 p.m.

You are invited to gather to welcome the upcoming holiday season with the annual Evanston Holiday Tree Lighting in Fountain Square. The celebration includes a visit from Evanston Mayor Tisdahl, a Rotary International representative and Santa Claus who arrive at Fountain Square on an Evanston fire truck. A reception will follow in the Rotary Building’s Café International at One Rotary Center.

Getting to downtown Evanston events: Parking is plentiful in one of the city’s three self-park garages, or take convenient CTA or Metra public transportation.

For more information, contact the Downtown Evanston Visitor Information Center located at 820 Davis St., Suite 151. Email info@downtownevanston.org. Call (847) 866-6319. Visit www.downtownevanston.org.

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The vibrant and unique downtown district offers excellent shopping, wonderful international cuisine and cultural offerings galore. Shoppers will enjoy a wonderful blend of one-of-kind shops and boutiques as well as national retailers. The walkable downtown allows you to park just once at one of the city’s easily accessible garages and explore on foot. Spend the afternoon relaxing in one of downtown Evanston’s many salons or spas, and then enjoy a delicious meal at one of more than 90 restaurants and cafés. Whether you’re looking to grab a quick bite or linger through a five-course meal, you’ll enjoy the vast selection of international fare at prices for every budget. Take an evening stroll through the historic Fountain Square at the town center and then wander down to the paths on lovely Lake Michigan.

The Downtown Evanston gift card was launched in December 2010. The prepaid card can be redeemed for dining, shopping and services at more than 120 participating downtown Evanston businesses. The program encourages keeping funds local. The gift card may be purchased Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., at the Downtown Evanston office at 820 Davis St., Suite 151; and Monday – Friday, from 8:30 a.m. – 6 p.m., and Saturday 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. at First Bank and Trust at 820 Church St. The card is available in denominations from $5 to $500. The gift card operates on a closed-loop system; it is valid only at participating downtown Evanston businesses. Look for the window decal with the Downtown Evanston logo and tagline, “Gift Cards Accepted Here.”

Purchasers of the gift card will also receive a Passport to Downtown Evanston guide that features valuable offers from businesses that welcome the gift card. Those with an Android or iPhone may download the newly created Passport to Downtown Evanston App and take advantage of the more than 80 special offers at the touch of a button.

Your out-of-town guests will appreciate the outstanding accommodations downtown Evanston offers. Hotels are beautifully appointed and centrally located with easy access to shops, restaurants and the Northwestern University campus. Whether you are looking for a quaint inn or a full-service hotel, downtown Evanston can accommodate your getaway, business travel, special event or convention.

Visitors and residents alike can enjoy downtown Evanston’s cultural offerings and events. Evanston boasts one of the largest and most diverse arts communities in Illinois with a multitude of live theaters, galleries, museums, and organizations, as well the 18 screen state–of–the–art multiplex at Century Theatres.

Step inside the architectural jewel anchoring the downtown area: the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired Evanston Public Library. Explore the library’s notable collections or take in one of the many interesting lectures the library presents.