With the outbreak of Coronavirus, Governor Pritzker ordered Illinois residents to shelter indoors, giving up daily activities like going to work and eating out. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t go outside to take a walk or go for a drive. In fact, getting out safely reduces cabin fever and gets you to places you normally do not visit. Here we focus on attractions in Chicago’s south suburbs that your family can enjoy while practicing social-distancing.
Old Joliet Prison
The Joliet Correctional Center in Joliet, Illinois opened in 1858 and operated until 2002 before being turned into a local attraction. At its peak, nearly 2,000 prison inmates occupied the building. Sadly, conditions were not good and the prison ultimately met its demise. From the outside, you can view the Gothic architecture that W.W. Boyington designed. Boyington is a very early Chicago architect who also designed the Chicago Water Tower. You’ll see the limestone builders used from the quarry in Joliet. Many builders around the country have used Joliet limestone. Today, the prison is best known for its fictional inmate “Joliet Jake” from the 1980 film “The Blues Brothers.” Since then, Hollywood chose the site for several movies and shows like “Prison Break,” “Derailed,” “Let’s Go to Prison,” and “Empire.” While you may not be able to take an indoor tour, you can still drive by and check out its interesting architecture.
Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery
Dubbed as one of the most haunted locations in the United States, Bachelor’s Grove Woods in Orland Park has an abandoned cemetery home to many eerie circumstances. Patrons have documented and photographed countless spooky apparitions on the property. In the mid- to late 1800s, settlers and rail workers used the small cemetery as burial grounds. By the mid-1900s, burials were no longer taking place on the property. But, it made a great hang out for destructive teenagers, who would flock to the abandoned graveyard to vandalize and destroy old head stones. That is when the ghost stories started to spread around town and the cemetery became known as a haunted site. Regardless if you buy into the paranormal hype, this cemetery is a quiet area to walk and enjoy the outdoors.
Benches on the Avenue
Tinley Park’s Benches on the Avenue has become one of the most popular Tinley Park attractions. Established by the public art program, annual bench design draws thousands of participants from across the area. The colorful benches created by amateurs and professionals are wonderful pieces of art. They also provide spots for people to sit while strolling through the downtown area. Every year, the art program chooses a theme to guide bench design. In 2019, the theme was Prized Page Turners and participants designed benches based on noteworthy novels. 2020’s theme is Around the World, and aims to feature art about travel destinations, favorite vacation spots, or iconic landmarks.
Cook County and Will County Forest Preserves
More than likely, you’re feeling cooped up from not leaving your house and you’d like to get outside. Throughout the south suburbs are a multitude of forest preserves where trails, open areas and points of interest have remained open for the public to enjoy.
With spring weather upon us, take the family for a hike, or the dog for a walk. If you have young kids, now, while the trails are mostly empty, is a great time to teach them how to ride a bike. Once the weather warms up, pick up a new hobby like disc golfing, take a trip down a river by canoe or kayak, or have a picnic by the lake. To check out which parks and preserves are closed, refer to the Cook County and Will County forest preserve updates.
Frederick C. Robie House
While technically in the city and not the suburbs, the Robie House is a can’t-miss gem for architecture fans.
This United States National Landmark is located on the University of Chicago campus in southern neighborhood Hyde Park. Famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright built the structure as a single family home between 1909 and 1910. It is renowned as an example of Prairie School, a historically popular American architectural style unique to the states. Due to the pandemic, the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust has suspended indoor tours, but you can enjoy a nice walk to see the beautiful architecture.
Prison image by GabboT is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
“Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery GravE StonE” by Antonio Bovino is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Sauerbier-Burkhardt Cemetary photo by Julie Corsi, licensed under CC BY 2.0
Frederick C. Robie House by Teemu008, licensed under CC BY 2.0