Crystal Lake’s 1st Waterfront Restaurant: Duke’s on the Water!

Little Lake County parents are active, mobile and always seeking adventure! Sometimes we even traverse outside of our fair county to find family entertainment beyond our borders. Due to popular reader demand, we introduce “Little McHenry County,” a monthly column dedicated to finding fun with our neighbors to the west, written by McHenry County Moms in the know. Explore and enjoy!

Little McHenry County is supported by the Raue Center for the Arts.

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Duke’s On the Water: Now Open

Finally! I know I have been anxiously awaiting this since I moved to the area almost nine years ago, and I couldn’t be more excited. It’s a McHenry County resident’s summer dream come true: our first waterfront restaurant in Crystal Lake! Yesssssss!

Photo credit: Duke’s on the Water Facebook page

It’s not just any restaurant, this is a local favorite, and one of the best around. Introducing Duke’s On the Water! If you are from anywhere near the Crystal Lake area, I’m sure you have heard of (or if you are lucky enough, dined at) Duke’s Alehouse and Kitchen. The original location is a fixture in downtown Crystal Lake, and is well known for its enormous craft beer menu and the locally grown cuisine offered to patrons. The restaurant makes a point of serving the freshest and best foods from local farmers and producers to ensure high-quality, flavorful menu options.

Photo credit: Duke’s on the Water Facebook page

Duke’s on the Water will be located in Crystal Lake’s Quarry Cable Park in the Three Oaks recreation area. The menu will focus on burgers, sandwiches, salads and additional comfort foods. Like its predecessor, this restaurant will also source ingredients from local and sustainable vendors. Although Duke’s is renowned for its craft beer selection, the Quarry Park owners still will be in charge of serving alcohol. The park has a very strict admittance system in place to prevent people who have been drinking from wake boarding. This ensures the safety of its’ patrons. But have no fear, you will still be able to have a “mommy or daddy drink” with your toes in the sand here.

Photo credit: Duke’s on the Water Facebook page

Outdoor seating will be available at the restaurant and will allow visitors to enjoy their food and drinks while checking out the wakeboard action. A fire pit, live music, sand volleyball and baggo sets will provide additional entertainment before, during or after your meal.

A catering menu is also available for special events and it looks delicious. I just may change my birthday from January to July (and possibly knock off a few years while I’m at it) so I can have a party here. I mean, how great does this look?

Photo credit: Duke’s on the Water Facebook page

Three Oaks is already an amazing place to take your family for a fun-filled day. The beach, playground, fishing and boating options, as well as the scenic and tree-lined walking trails provide many active or not-so-active entertainment options for all ages. You can read about Quarry Cable Park Crystal Lake in a previous Little McHenry County Story. Now add in the fact that you can have a cocktail and listen to some music at the end of the day. And all while your very tired kids actually sit quietly eating a delicious dinner that you didn’t have to cook…kind of sounds like heaven, right?

Photo credit: The Quarry Cable Park Facebook page

Duke’s on the water officially opens on Wednesday, May 10th at 11:30 a.m. and will remain open for the season until October. Please note that there is a $5 parking fee for non-Crystal Lake residents. I am guessing that this will be a popular summer hangout for locals and cross-county visitors as well. Go ahead and check out this new spot with family or friends and get your summer R&R started. See you there!

Dukes on the Water
5517 Northwest Highway
Crystal Lake, Illinois, IL 60014
(815) 527-1088

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Duke’s on the Water


Hours: 11:30am – 9:00pm. Sunday – Thursday
11:30am – 10:00pm, Friday and Saturday


Little McHenry County is graciously supported by the Raue Center for Arts. The Raue Center for the Arts is McHenry County’s premiere theater destination, hosting unique events and performances which include theater, comedy, music and family productions in a charming and historic venue in downtown Crystal Lake. The Raue Center For The Arts is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of all through the arts.

Raue Center for the ArtsSupport the Raue Center for the Arts by attending one of their upcoming events:

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About Shelby Younge 44 Articles

Shelby has lived in counties across the U.S. from New York to California. She has worked in catering, public relations, and as a sales executive for a marketing and travel company before giving up her mundane life of exotic food, party planning and international binge travel for the glamour of poopy diapers and being known by name at Costco. She calls Lakewood home with her three sons and a daughter ranging in age from nine to one, and is married to her college sweetheart. Shelby enjoys cooking, exercising, coaching, church-going, wining and dining with friends and spying on her kids under the guise of “volunteering” at school. You can find Shelby dancing through the aisles of the dollar store, sporting heels and nursing her baby in the Ergo, while looking for inspiration for the next family theme day. Or, she might be chauffeuring her kiddos to one of their 1,204 activities while belting out Kids Bop (but using the original lyrics) in her gluten-free cracker-filled family truckster.

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