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Even in a county with hundreds of lakes, Deep Lake stands out. Located in Lake County, in the Chicagoland Region of Illinois, private Deep Lake is noted as one of the cleanest, clearest lakes in the watershed. The lake lies only 50 miles north of the Chicago Loop and just five miles east of the Fox River Chain of Lakes. This proximity to the city has made the area around Deep Lake and the Village of Lake Villa a choice location for commuters. Here at Deep Lake, the lakelubbers can have the best of both worlds at their fingertips.
One of a series of glacial pothole lakes sprinkled across the northern Illinois prairie, Deep Lake became a recreational destination in the early days of resort hotels. Records show resort properties being developed here as early as 1880. The village of Lake Villa was incorporated in 1901 on the narrow strip of land between Deep and Cedar lakes. By this time, a community of affluent property owners had already built elaborate mansions in the area. The famed department store pioneer, E.J. Lehmann influenced development and convinced the Wisconsin Central Railroad to include a stop at Lake Villa. The depot soon saw up to 18 trains a day bringing resort visitors and taking businessmen to Chicago. The exclusive nature of many early property owners likely prevented over-development of the lakeshore: today, only about 50% of the shoreline is developed. The rest is encompassed within the Sun Lake Forest Preserve along the north and west sides of the lake.
Deep Lake is an all-sports lake. Residents and their visitors enjoy water skiing, pontooning, jet skis, tubing, wake-boarding, sailing, canoeing and kayaking. Property owners are allowed to have their own docks, giving exclusive access nearly at one's doorstep. The village of Lake Villa maintains a small boat ramp and swimming beach, open to village residents, on Deep Lake's south shore. Here off-lake residents may obtain a key to the gate where they may launch boats with motors under 10hp for a day on the lake. There is no overnight docking available at the park. The only other public access to the lake is via a small fishing resort on the eastern shore that rents cabins and boats, sells bait, allows paid access and acts as the headquarters for anglers visiting the lake. Deep Lake offers a good supply of largemouth bass and bluegill, along with northern pike, crappie, bullhead, perch and carp. Because of the presence of two relatively rare minnows, the lake is rarely stocked with larger game fish. However, the lake provides its own self-sustaining fishery, and fishing is considered very good. The wooded shoreline and large percentage of preserve land gives one the feeling of a far-north fishing lake. It is easy here to forget one's proximity to civilization and the large cities only an hour away.
Visitors to Deep Lake will never be at loose ends for something to do: the quiet coves and wooded lakeshore harbor a surprising variety of birds, waterfowl and mammals-a great spot for canoeing or kayaking with a camera and binoculars. Local roads along the shoreline are great for leisurely strolls and cycling. Sun Lake Forest Preserve offers over three miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking and cross-country skiing. Several restaurants are located near the lake, including one at the fishing resort. A former country club turned exclusive hotel/conference center on the southeast shore offers fine dining. And Lake Villa provides a full complement of restaurants, shops, services and amusements for both daily activities and evening entertainment such as movies, pizza parlors, hardware and neighborhood taverns. Several golf courses are within a five mile radius.
Nearby Fox River Chain of Lakes provides facilities and space for larger boats. Marinas along the many lakes there can provide boat docking and storage for the 'big boat' aficionado only five minuets from Deep Lake. Illinois Beach State Park is only 15 miles to the east and offers miles of sandy beach, Great Lakes breezes and a marina. Both Waukegan and Kenosha, Wisconsin are within a half-hour's drive, providing eclectic shops, arts venues and unique nightlife. Youngsters and the young at heart will thrill to the roller coasters at the world-famous amusement park located at Gurnee. Also within a half-hour drive, several forest, nature and bog preserves offer ample opportunities to engage in bird and wildlife watching. Most have groomed trails, interpretive facilities and often, rangers to guide and educate visitors.
Private vacation rentals are not common on Deep Lake. Some few rentals do exist in the form of townhouses and condos near the lake. Those looking for real estate may find the perfect property with lake frontage. These are quickly snapped up by the wise purchaser. Commuting to Chicago is simple from Lake Villa, with trains departing as often as every 15 minutes during peak hours. This easy commute makes Deep Lake once again accessible to those who work in the city and thus a highly desirable location. Nothing could be more inviting after a hot day in the city than to sit on the deck gazing across the peaceful lake to the wooded shoreline beyond. Won't you come to Deep Lake and discover what's been missing in your world?
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