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!
Welcome to the Chicago Southland! Start your gramping trip off with some of the Chicago Southland’s most impressive art.
Begin exploring in University Park, home to Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park. This sculpture park is a fun opportunity for travelers young and old. Home to 30 larger-than-life sculptures, scattered throughout 100 acres of beautiful prairie landscape, the Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park is free and open 365 days a year! Various programs that integrate art and nature are also available for both kids and adults.
After trekking around the sculpture park, the entire family is sure to be ready for lunch! Head about 10 miles north to Aurelio’s Pizza in Homewood, the world’s largest pizzeria and part of Chicago’s oldest pizza chain. Aurelio’s has an expansive menu, ensuring that even the pickiest of eaters in your gramping group will find something they’ll enjoy. Be sure to ask for your pizza to be baked in the famous old oven for an even crispier crust.
Next, take a short walk down the street to Homewood’s Railroad Platform & Park. This elevated train watching platform is the perfect place to take a post-lunch break and watch the trains go by. Metra, Amtrak and freight trains all come through the Homewood train station, making this stop perfect for railfans of all ages. You can also check out the refurbished IC engine and caboose that are on display at the west side of the tracks!
End the day with a leisurely stroll through downtown Homewood, where you can find the largest collection of Richard Haas murals in the world. Haas, a world-renowned artist, specializes in large, illusion murals. There are 15 hyper-realistic art pieces throughout Homewood. Try to find all 15 as you visit some of the local shops.
It’s time for a history lesson! Begin your second day in the Chicago Southland at the Pullman National Monument. The visitor information center is an excellent place to start the day. Watch introductory video about the town’s history or enjoy the various photos and Pullman-era artifacts. Be sure to talk a walk around the historic neighborhood and check out the famous rowhouses, Hotel Florence, Greenstone Church and so much more. Grab a quick bite to eat the Pullman Café, a cozy, local spot with delicious salads, sandwiches and pizzas.
After enjoying the Pullman neighborhood and a tasty lunch, continue the history lesson with a visit to 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. Please note, the museum is only open on Wednesdays and Saturdays, 1:00 PM – 3:30 PM, or by appointment so be sure to plan accordingly!
Finally, the grandparents can take a break and let the kids go nuts at Odyssey Fun World in Tinley Park. There are plenty of indoor and outdoor activities the kids can enjoy, such as arcade games, go karts, a zipline, mini golf, batting cages, laser tag and more!
Wrap up your Chicago Southland adventure by paying a visit to Brookfield Zoo. This 216-acre nature park is open 365 days a year. Animal lovers of all ages will enjoy the interactive exhibits, daily zoo chats, giraffe feedings and more. Home to over 5,000 animals, Brookfield Zoo has been helping generations of families from around the world discover their love for animals since first opening their gates in 1934. Take your time and spend the day at this expansive, award-winning zoo.
We hope you enjoy your gramping adventure in the Chicago Southland!
Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park
Aurelio's Pizza - Homewood
Homewood Railroad Platform & Park
Richard Haas Murals
Pullman National Monument
1950s Park Forest House Museum
Odyssey Fun World
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