Get ready to go gramping!
By Katie Arvia published July 27, 2020
Ready for a unique, family-friendly adventure? “Gramping” is the latest travel trend that brings grandparents and their grandchildren together. Mom and dad can relax at home while grandparents enjoy a “skip-gen” bonding trip with the kids. Whether you’re looking for a weekend-long getaway or just a day trip, families can find plenty of gramping opportunities right here in the Chicago Southland!
Start your gramping trip off with a history lesson. Visit one of the many Chicago Southland-area historical societies or museums, like the 1950s Park Forest House Museum. This recreation of an original 1950s home is complete with toys, books, clothes and furnishings of the era. Grandparents will love the nostalgic trip down memory lane while the kids explore drawers, cupboards and closets full of 1950s treasures.
After traveling back in time to the 1950s, go back even farther to the 1880s and explore the Pullman State Historic Site. Railfans young and old will enjoy visiting the Pullman National Monument, the only of its kind in Illinois. The visitor information center is an excellent place to start part two of your gramping adventure: watch an introductory video about the town’s history or enjoy the various photos and Pullman-era artifacts. Be sure to walk around the neighborhood and check out the famous rowhouses, Hotel Florence, Greenstone Church and so much more. There are plenty of other railfan opportunities throughout the Chicago Southland to enjoy, too, like the Blue Island Double Diamond or the Homewood Railroad Platform & Park.
Learn even more history by taking a drive down the Illinois Lincoln Highway, America’s first coast-to-coast road. About 25 miles of the historical highway runs through the Chicago Southland, from Lynwood to New Lenox. Along this stretch of road, you will find a series of nine murals featuring local and national Lincoln Highway history. Grandparents and grandchildren can work together to spot each of the murals while traveling through the Chicago Southland. Almost all of the murals have hidden elements painted into them, such as initials, family names and even hidden messages! Can you find them all?
If you’re looking for more art, the entire family will enjoy the Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park. Kids will get a kick out of the larger-than-life sculptures and grandparents will appreciate the 30 master works of art, located throughout 100 acres of beautiful prairie landscape. Best of all, the sculpture park is free and open 365 days a year! The sculpture park also provides programs for both kids and adults that integrate art and nature. For more art, be sure to check out the Richard Haas Murals and the Flossmoor Sculpture Gardens.
The animal lovers in your gramping group will go wild for Brookfield Zoo! The 216-acre nature park has been helping generations of families from around the world discover their love for animals since first opening their gates in 1934. Today, more than 5,000 animals call Brookfield Zoo home. Daily zoo chats, interactive exhibits and the chance to feed a giraffe are just some of the adventures you can have at the zoo.
After so much exploring, everyone is sure to be ready to eat! The Chicago Southland is home to the world’s largest pizzeria and Chicago’s oldest pizza chain: Aurelio’s Pizza in Homewood! With an expansive menu, there’s something for even the pickiest of eaters. Be sure to ask them to bake your pizza in the “old oven” for a crispier crust!
There are so many opportunities for an amazing gramping trip right here in the Chicago Southland! For more fun ideas, be sure to visit our Travel Inspirations page. Pack your bags, grab the grandkids and get ready for an unforgettable getaway!