Trains - Exploring the Chicago Southland Rail System
Start your tour at the Pullman District Visitor's Center in the Pullman Historic District. From the "World's Most Perfect Town" in 1906, to near demolition in the mid-20th century, to a neighborhood revitalized in the present day, the saga of the Pullman Palace Car Company and neighborhood known as Pullman is on display at the Pullman Historic Society Visitors Center. The center sits on the site of the Arcade Building and includes exhibits that feature historic pictures, Pullman related items and a short video that summaries the town's history.
The Visitor's Center is the starting point for your self guided walking tour of the Pullman District. The tour will take you to the historic Greenstone Church, made from the distinct serpentine stone. From there you will travel past neighborhood row houses, through the Market Square, and finally to the grand Hotel Florence.
For lunch your group will have fun dining at All Aboard! Family Dining & Amusement. ALL ABOARD, a family-oriented restaurant with a theme that is popular; model trains! Both kids and adults are amused as a train chugs along the restaurant walls and an interactive train display entertains both the young and young at heart. Guests seated along the counter track will have special food delivery via model train. A variety of train, country, and children's music, plays in the background enhancing the railroad dining experience.
It's time to explore Frankfort's Historic Downtown. From upscale to eclectic, the boutiques and stores in downtown Frankfort offer unique selections and personal service that you won't find at the shopping malls. Enjoy coffee at Kup A Joe Café or enjoy a cool beer at Old Plank Trail Tavern.
Now it's time for train viewing at the Homewood Railroad Platform & Park. Situated between the vibrant downtown area and the majestic Ravisloe Country Club, the Homewood Railroad Park is in the heart of the action in the Village of Homewood. The handicap-accessible railroad viewing platform gives an elevated view of the three types of tracks that cross Homewood, regional commuter (Metra), intercity rail (Amtrak), and freight. The platform also plays a live audio feed from the switchyard.
The Spanish revival-style stations were built in 1926, and house the entrances to tunnels under the tracks that lead to the loading platforms. On the west side of the tracks, a refurbished IC engine and caboose are on display.
Near the railroad park are a series of 11 murals by artist Richard Haas who uses forced perspective to create three-dimensional images on downtown buildings.
Dinner will be enjoyed at the Flossmoor Station Restaurant & Brewery in nearby Flossmoor. For rail fans, Flossmoor Station is like a railroad museum that serves great food and craft beer. Located in the historic downtown district, Flossmoor Station serves a diverse heartland style menu with award winning handcrafted beers on tap. The brewpub sits in the original IC Flossmoor Station which was built in 1906. It was meticulously refurbished in the mid-1990s. From the bar area, you can get an up-close view of the modern Metra Electric District as it stops at the new Flossmoor Station.
Flossmoor Station was named Best Small Brewpub at the Great American Beer Festival in 2006 and has won multiple medals from the World Beer Cup. The great brewery is also very family and kid friendly. On the restaurant's patio sits a fully restored IC caboose, called The Old Caboose that serves gelato and soft serve frozen yogurt seasonally.
After a hearty breakfast at the hotel, it's time to be a kid again! Begin the day with a round of golf at the Tinley Junction Miniature Golf course. Tinley Junction features an unique Garden Model Railroad running through the 18-hole miniature golf course.
Next, take a serene walk thru the 55 acres of Centennial Park, Tinley Park Park District's largest park, featuring a 12-acre stocked lake with fishing piers and a one-mile scenic walking path around the lake.
Before heading to explore more trains in the afternoon, stop by Portillo's in Tinley Park for am unique Chicago Hot Dog / Italian Beef / Maxwell Street Polish experience. Started in 1963 by Dick Portillo in a small trailer, his dedication to serving "the best food" and "service" has won so many Silver Platter awards (the "Oscars" of the food industry) that the company retired from competition for 5 years to give others a chance. No one else does atmosphere, or hot dogs and beef, like Portillo's. Each location reflects an unique theme that reflects Dick Portillo's love of history, especially Chicago history.
After lunch, you'll be on your way to view the Park Forest Railfan Park. New in 2012, the Park Forest Railfan Park features a 35-foot elevated handicapped accessible platform that overlooks a rare "highway cloverleaf" interchange for trains. The platform features eight interpretive signs that describe the history of railroads in Park Forest and the Chicagoland area.
The restored Elgin, Joliet and Eastern Railroad Caboose #531 was donated as a centerpiece for the park. The #531 was used on EJ&E lines from the 1950s until the 1990s. The Rail Fan Park connects with the Old Plank Road Trail, a paved rails-to-trails conversion that stretches 22 miles from Park Forest to Joliet.
From there it's onto see the Beecher Railroad Depot which provides clear evidence of the Village of Beecher's emergence as a prosperous railroad community as is still exhibited in the historic, commercial buildings in Beecher's downtown. This depot is the only remaining building of its type existing in Will County. Also on display next to the depot, is the retired Missouri Pacific Caboose # 13649.
End your day with an unique experience of fine dining at either the Princess Café, located in downtown Beecher or the Bierstube located just a few miles northwest of Beecher in Peotone.
Since 1977 the Princess Café in Beecher, Illinois has been an unique place for dining and drinking, bringing together a large population from both Illinois and Indiana.
The Princess Café is an establishment that has been a pillar of pride in Beecher since 1863. The Princess Café was known as the "Old Stage Tavern" and was one of the first places of business in "Washington Center", now the town of Beecher. In the Stagecoach days, circa 1870, Beecher was the halfway point from Kankakee to Chicago.
The "Old Stage Tavern" (now the Princess Café) was a favorite stop for teamsters, and travelers who would stop to rest, wait for the stage coach to arrive, and continue on to their destination. Today the Princess Café is standing in the original building and has continued to carry proudly the enjoyment of food and drink at its very best.
** Please note: Itinerary may be modified to meet your group’s specific needs. Locations and selections are subject to availability. Please contact Tobie at Tobie@VisitChicagoSouthland.com or 708-895-8200 to obtain current pricing and confirmation of dates and locations.
Historic Pullman District
All Aboard! Family Dining & Amusement
Old Plank Trail Tavern
Homewood Railroad Platform & Park
Flossmoor Station Restaurant & Brewery
Tinley Junction Miniature Golf Course
Park Forest Rail Fan Park
Beecher Railroad Depot
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