What’s your route from Harrisburg to Gurnee? You might get more suggestions with those specifics. As for dining in Gurnee, it’s a bit of a joke. The two big attractions in town are Six Flags Great America (if you like lemon chills and overpriced pizza by the slice you’re in luck) and Gurnee Mills, a gigantic outlet mall with an abundance of cliched food court offerings.
That said, you are within easy driving distance of some pretty good grub. The first thing that popped into my head was The Shanty. You’ll need to look up an exact address but, they’re located up north there on Route 41, also known as Skokie Highway. The Shanty is a warm little roadhouse operation, well known around here for its burgers. Every table starts off with a complimentary basket of breadsticks and a crock of Merkt’s cheddar cheese spread. As I recall they are also renowned for their French Onion Soup. Very casual, very friendly, this is a good stop.
In North Chicago (the town, not the north side of the city of Chicago) I believe there is a barbecue joint called Hillary’s that is well liked by some of our fellow Roadfooders (chicagostyledog, tsores, am I getting this right?)
Also, you are just down the road from that magical place we flatlanders (people from Illinois) call Wisconsin! From Gurnee, taking I-94, you’re probably less than 20 minutes from Kenosha. Get off at the Highway 50 exit and head about 1/4 mile west to The Brat Stop. As for the cuisine, the name says it all. They’ve got a full menu, but why? The Bratwurst are very good. Get an order of fried cheese curds for an appetizer. This is a big, loud sports oriented place with more TV screens per square inch than a Best Buy store. Because it’s so close to the state border, it get’s real interesting in there when the Bears play the Packers.
Just a little further up I-94 is Racine, home of one the strangest little chains you’ll ever see, Kewpie Burgers. They have a total of four locations. One in Racine, Wisconsin, the other three in Lima, Ohio! These are very tasty burgers served in a classic art deco diner atmosphere. Their motto alone will hook you:
Hamburger, onion, pickle on top
Makes your heart go flippity-flop
Someone once told me you could ask to have your burger "de-greased". Thinking this was some complex technical process, turns out they press the patty, after cooking, between a couple of paper towels before depositing it on the bun.
Like I say, if you don’t mind a few minutes drive, southeast Wisconsin holds all kinds of culinary thrills. If you’re lucky, chicagostyledog will jump in with a wealth of information.
As more occurs to me I’ll chirp in. Have a good trip, welcome to northeast Illinois.