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The Crocodile Monitor Lizard has been known to reach a length of 15 feet, with stories of 19-foot animals on the lips of New Guinea tribesmen. It is larger than the Komodo Dragon and has teeth that scissor across each other. The only other reptile known to have teeth like that is the Tyrannosaurus Rex. But that isn't the only weapon that these extremely intelligent lizards possess—their long tails act as whips which can cut through the skin of an opponent, or blind them if the animal makes a successful bid for the eyes, which is usually the aim. At the very least, the unfortunate recipient of the lash will be left with severe welts, and that's if he's lucky.

That's not the sort of beast you would expect to run into in Lake Forest, Illinois, which is only 31 miles north of Chicago. But you can. And you can also see giant snakes and alligator snapping turtles in the same place. That place is the Wildlife Discovery Center at 1401 Middlefork Drive. You can visit the main exhibit room for free and see all kinds of crocodilians and other creatures that you wouldn't want to meet face-to-face in the wild. But there right there in Lake Forest, Illinois.

Lake Forest, Illinnois is like that, though. This is a town that has always endeavored to hold on to its wildness, yet give its residents and visitors civilized things like stationery. It's great to find little luxuries in such a lush, wonderful place as Lake Forest, Illinois. There's a suggestion of paradise in that. And for that very reason, this is the perfect place to take one of those intense getaway vacations, the kind that writers take, where you go and find a town like Lake Forest, and an inn like the Deer Path Inn and get back in touch with Tolkien. If you don't think that taking a reading holiday—going on vacation in a place that resembles the setting of what you're reading—is an intensely fun way to spend a few weeks, then you are mistaken and you should spend some time in Lake Forest, Illinois immediately, before you lose your mind.

The Deer Path Inn of Lake Forest, Illinois, by the way, is a Tudor-style building that is made to look a bit rustic inside. Outside there is a beautiful garden area in which to sit and enjoy a meal and a drink. Lake Forest is a town full of such magical spots, because it is full of plants. Yes, plants—flowers, trees, grass, that sort of thing. We love to be surrounded by greenery instinctively, which is why the big city has to be carefully sculpted so that it doesn't become depressing. You keep that from happening with greenery, and Lake Forest, Illinois has plenty of that. Therefore, Lake Forest, Illinois is a happy little place.

It's been that way from the beginning, since landscaper Almerin Hotchkiss made the original Lake Forest, Illinois street plan. He made sure that the area wasn't forced into a grid, that it remained picturesque. Many of the estates that Lake Forest, Illinois was home to are still in existence, and that means large expanses of land and trees.

Remember the stationery, though? Helanders Stationers of Lake Forest, Illinois has a surprising array of stationery and gifts. When you are taking the sort of vacation mentioned above, you may get the urge to buy a new journal or to buy beautiful stationery and write actual letters on it. This store opened in Lake Forest, Illinois in 1922, and has been operated since by the family that started it, so it is a very polished shop with everything you could possibly want, and plenty of good ideas for gifts. You can even find neon signs and plush birds, which make great souvenirs for loved ones.

And if you are in Lake Forest, Illinois during spring and summer months, and you like to read, then you can participate in the Lake Forest-Lake Bluff Reads program sponsored by Lake Forest College. It is a community-wide reading and book-discussion series led by Lake Forest College faculty, and is free to the public. On May 16, they will discuss “Lost in the City” by Edward P. Jones and on June 5, they will discuss “The Road Past Altamont” by Gabrielle Roy. You can find the schedule on the college website.

No matter what you decide to do in Lake Forest, Illinois, you will find it a relaxing, beautiful place. It is a great place for a romantic getaway or for a period of beautiful solitude.

Lake Forest - Community Info

Contact Info:
The City of Lake Forest
220 E. Deerpath
Lake Forest, IL 60045
(847) 234-2600, Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Website: www.cityoflakeforest.com