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Crystal Lake, in the Chicagoland Region of Illinois, is a water playground surrounded by a decidedly urban landscape. Located in the Chicago Northwest suburbs, Crystal Lake is easy to get to and a great place to live. An easy commute via train makes Crystal Lake the ideal spot for a working vacation. One of many glacial lakes in the area, Crystal Lake gains most of its water from springs bubbling up from the aquifer. The lake was named in 1835 by a man named Beardsley who remarked that the water was a clear as crystal. Beardsley moved on, but the name stuck. The first settlers arrived in 1836 by covered wagon from New York state and the area was quickly settled, with farming the primary enterprise.
Located a few miles west of the Fox River, Crystal Lake attracted the same adventurous residents the many other lakes did; hunting and fishing were the first lake-area activities. Inns and cottages for visitors were soon established. By the 1920s, the area saw many visitors of less than stellar character: the criminal element that thrived during the 'Roaring Twenties' appeared to find Crystal Lake attractive for their nefarious business activities. The era of gangland lawlessness soon passed, however, and the Crystal Lake area settled into the safe, low-crime upscale community that it is today.
Fishing is always popular at Crystal Lake. A local angler's club organizes fishing events both at Crystal Lake and at other area lakes. Some of the sport fish species found in the lake are bluegill, channel catfish, largemouth bass, northern pike, walleye, white crappie and yellow perch. The Crystal Lake Anglers also arrange for regular stocking of the lake and work to protect and improve water quality. In winter, the lake is visited by ice fishermen who brave the cold for an opportunity to indulge in their favorite sport year round.
The shoreline of Crystal Lake is heavily developed with private homes. The village of Crystal Lake acquired three properties on the lake that have been developed as community parks. Some of the amenities provided at the Main Beach Park include an annual Cardboard Cup Regatta, an auto show and 'water-ski spectacular' weekend, and a fishing tournament. Boat rentals are available along with a fishing pier, boat launch, swimming, picnic area, playground, basketball courts, ball diamonds and groomed ice skating in winter. At the opposite end of the lake, West Park provides another public beach, ice fishing access, playground, regular fishing derbies produced by the Crystal Lake Anglers Club, and another boat launch. Nearby, Naoki Kamijima Park provides yet another fishing pier, a boathouse used by the municipal rowing club, and a playground. These facilities assure that every area resident has access to the lake for their choice of chosen activities even if they don't own lakefront. An all-sports lake, Crystal Lake sees much use by visitors and residents who water ski, jet ski, pontoon, power boat, sail, wakeboard, kayak and canoe. Lakefront residents have the advantage of their own docks and can go for a quiet early-morning paddle or a twilight pontoon trip around the 228-acre lake. A summer barbecue on the deck overlooking the lake is the time-honored way to entertain visitors and neighbors.
There is never a shortage of activities near Crystal Lake. Just north of the lake, 310-acre Lippold Park offers an 18-hole disc golf course, softball, soccer, football and baseball fields, a dog park, sand volleyball, more than five+ miles of biking/walking trails, 60 acres of ponds and wetlands, fishing piers, picnic shelter, playground, miniature golf, putting green, driving range, pro-shop and golf lessons. Several other parks and reserves in the area offer public access for hiking, nature viewing and bird watching. Those wishing adventure farther afield can bike or hike the Fox River Trail that begins in Crystal Lake and travels south all the way to Aurora. Barely six miles to the east, the serious boater can access the Fox Waterway near McHenry and cruise the entire Fox Chain of Lakes. Golf courses are also plentiful around Crystal Lake.
For indoor activities, this area is rich in urban conveniences; within five miles of Crystal Lake there are movie theaters, performance arts venues, historical museums, restored period homes, grocery stores and shopping malls. A wide variety of restaurants and nightclubs exist to suit everyone's tastes. And serious shoppers will want to take the Metro into Chicago where they can find every possible type of shopping. Chicago offers a wide variety of evening entertainment, museums and galleries of every sort.
Lucky visitors may be able to find lakefront vacation rentals, including private homes, townhomes, and condos. Monthly rentals are more common. Bed and breakfast lodging is also available in the area. A variety of real estate can be found near the lake, and sometimes on the lakefront itself. A visit to Crystal Lake will convince you that you need to stake your claim to a spot near the shoreline. Once the children see the beach, the playground and the activities they can engage in, they'll beg to come back again and again. So, hop on the train bound for Crystal Lake . . .you'll be home before you know it!
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