15 Best Things to Do in Oak Lawn (IL)

Nestled on the southwest edge of Chicago, Oak Lawn is a culturally diverse suburb with plenty of green space.

In fact, Oak Lawn has more than 300 acres of public parks, with top-notch facilities managed by the local park district including swimming pools and splash pads, nature reserves, fantastic golf courses and many pristine community parks.

On the west side of the village is the Chicago Ridge Mall, one of the premier one-stop shopping destinations in the South Chicago area.

From major sports venues to family entertainment centers, performing arts venues and restored expanses of nature, there’s no shortage of inspiration for nearby activities.

1. Centennial Park Pool and Splash Pad

water slide

Oak Lawn’s largest public recreation space is the arena for softball leagues and various youth programs.

Spread over less than 40 acres, Centennial Park has two playgrounds, two picnic areas, four softball fields, a soccer field, a basketball field, two roller hockey fields and four beach volleyball courts.

In summer, the big family attraction is the Centennial Family Aquatic Center at the east end of the park, featuring a pool with two waterslides, a diving area, and a splash pad for hours of fun on sunny days.

As part of a major upgrade, LED lighting is now installed throughout Centennial Park, as well as new fitness stations along the park’s trails.

2. Wolf Wildlife Park

black-crowned night heron

Stony Brook rises over Oak Lawn, flows for miles through the village, crosses the golf course of the same name, and then enters Cal-Sag Strait. You can visit the source in this well-preserved wetland area south of Oak Lawn.

More than 100 different bird species have been recorded at Wolfe Wildlife Park, including many waterfowl such as the great egret, double-crowned cormorant and black-crowned night heron.

On the trails here, you may spot foxes, turtles, frogs and raccoons, while the reserve is full of monarch butterflies in summer. At the southeastern end of the park is a wonderful nature-themed playground for children.

3. Oak Lawn Children’s Museum

Oak Lawn Children's Museum

Designed for children ages 1-12, this attraction offers open-ended and experiential learning in a creative way.

Whether the subject is science, math, art or future career paths, the Children’s Museum encourages children to get involved and try new things. The exhibits are constantly updated, so no two visits are the same.

Many of our spaces as we write this include a role-playing animal shelter, an interactive table that showcases terrain, a playground with oversized blocks, an engaging exhibit involving Earth and space, and “what if,” explaining hearing impairments Wait for disability and celebrate diversity.

4. Chicago Ridge Mall

Shopping

Across America 20th Century Park is one of the top shopping destinations in the Southwest Chicago area.

Founded in 1981, the Chicago Ridge Mall has nearly 120 stores at the time of writing.

To name a few, you have Dick’s Sporting Goods, two-story H&M, American Eagle, Forever 21, Old Navy, GameStop, Kay Jewelers, Claire’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Yankee Candle.

The cafeteria has mainstays such as Panda Express, Sbarro, Sarku Japan, Subway and KFC-Taco Bell, while Five, Chicken Chicken, Red Robin and Chili’s are scattered around the center.

5. Ghost Road Family Entertainment Center

go kart

The Halloween-themed chain of family entertainment centers has three locations in Chicago, the closest one northwest of Burbank.

What awaits you is an array of indoor and outdoor attractions such as go-karts for all ages, a laser maze, mini golf, a batting cage, carnival rides designed for the youngest members of the family, and two Huge room for redemption games.

Outdoor attractions are open April through October or earlier, weather permitting, while arcade rooms can be visited year-round.

6. Beverly Arts Center (BAC)

art gallery

Founded in 1967 in neighboring Beverly/Morgan Park, this multidisciplinary arts center features a vibrant and high-quality program of theater, dance, film, visual arts, and music.

The Beverly Arts Center spans over 40,000 square feet and features a 400-seat auditorium, art galleries and various other exhibition spaces and studios.

So you can visit contemporary art exhibitions, or watch live music, theatre or film screenings.

BAC has a School of Fine Arts that offers expert tutoring for people of all ages, from dance to visual arts, drama and music, and the center also hosts regular seminars and lectures.

7. Stony Brook Golf Course

golf

Operated by the Oak Lawn Park District, this 18-hole public golf course will test your approach shots and consist primarily of par 3s and 4s.

The greens are always smooth and impeccably shaped, with plenty of bunkers to keep you on your toes.

The course also features some great facilities, including a 52-tee driving range, three practice greens with bunkers, two golf simulators and an 18-hole miniature golf course that the kids will love.

You can also sign up for a PGA pro class, get geared up at the pro shop, and finish your game at the bar and grill with a large outdoor patio.

8. Memorial Park

Exercise

East of Stony Brook Golf Course is a popular park with young families. For most of its history, Memorial Park has been known as Rocket Slide Park, which has its roots in space-age rides.

The original rocket slide is long gone, but has been replaced by another space-themed station. On the east side of the park is a large splash pad equipped with flying saucers and rockets, open in summer.

Elsewhere Memorial Park has a long walking, biking and jogging trail, as well as a beautiful pond surrounded by trees and complete with a fishing pier.

9. SeatGeek Stadium

concert

Nearby Bridgeview is a large stadium that opened in 2006 with a capacity of 20,000 fans. For most of its history, SeatGeek Stadium has been the home of Major League Baseball’s Chicago Fire.

They moved out in 2019, but the NWSL’s Chicago Red Stars are still in residence and finished runners-up in the 2019 NWSL Championship.

Over the past 15+ years, the stadium has hosted many other sporting events, including the U.S. and Mexico national men’s soccer teams, rugby league games, and Roosevelt University’s men’s and women’s soccer games.

The stadium is also an entertainment venue and has welcomed the likes of Bob Dylan, Phish, Kiss and the Dave Matthews Band.

10. South Side Escape Room

room escape

Designed by a husband and wife team, this Oak Lawn escape room attraction has won many accolades for its ingenuity.

With a compelling backstory, South Side Escape Rooms asks you to solve a variety of puzzles across media across the spectrum, so it’s never like a “lock chase.”

When we put this list together, the two rooms are Invitation and Storm, the latter being designed as a sequel. Both rooms are suitable for groups of four or more and are recommended for guests over 15 due to the difficulty level.

11. Cal-Sag Trail

Cal-Sag Trail

Cal-Sag Channel winds southward past Oak Lawn, connecting the Little Calumet River in the east with the Chicago Sanitation and Ship Canal in the west.

The 16-mile waterway was excavated in the 1910s for barges to serve the heavy industry that once dominated the area, and is now used more for flood control and summer cruises.

A multi-use trail has formed on the South Shore since 2015 and will eventually extend nearly 27 miles along a green corridor from Sag Quarries to Burnham Greenway on the Indiana border, connecting with more than 60 miles of additional trails.

If you want a leisurely walk or bike ride along the canal, there is a designated parking lot near Palos Heights from where you can stroll or bike to spot barges and birds along the water.

12. Katherine Lake Nature Center and Botanical Gardens

Katherine Lake Nature Center and Botanical Gardens

On the south bank of the canal, not more than 5 minutes from Oak Lawn, is an 85-acre non-profit park.

Explore the Katherine Lake Nature Center and Botanical Gardens as you travel through woodlands, grasslands, wetlands and 10 acres of lakeshore.

On the shores of the lake are beautiful gardens of wildflowers, herbs and butterflies, as well as traditional cultivars, as well as botanical gardens of oak, beech and sweet gum.

Along the trail, you’ll come across a children’s nature play area, canal viewing deck, beaver huts, sculptures and barefoot trails.

The Nature Center has a wealth of displays, including animal breeding boxes, and hosts many interesting classes and programs throughout the year.

13. Patrick Sullivan Park

Picnic in the park

When Patrick Sullivan Park was first laid out in 1955, it became the first park on Oak Lawn east of Cicero Avenue.

Today, it is a typical well-kept public space adjoining a paved path that takes you past lots of deciduous trees, with a small grove on the northwest side, which is beautiful in the fall.

Amenities, you have a children’s playground, tennis court, picnic shelter, beach volleyball court, and baseball/softball and soccer fields.

14. Stony Brook Promenade

barrel club

On the corner of Cicero Avenue and 111th Street, next to Wolf Wildlife Park, there is a newly rebuilt mall.

Over the course of several years, Oak Lawn Village purchased surrounding properties, many of which were outdated.

Now Stony Creek Promenade has locations for Mariano’s, HomeGoods and TJ Maxx, with help from restaurant chains like Raising Cane’s, Chipotle and Starbucks.

One of the most popular spots here is The Barrel Club, which specializes in contemporary American cuisine, whiskey and craft cocktails.

15. Worthbrook Park

skate park

On a rectangular lot, this community park is located next to Hemlock Plaza at the northernmost end of Ridgeland Ave.

Just under 9 acres in size, Worthbrook Park owes its current layout to a 2003 redesign. It’s a convenient destination for parents with young children, thanks to a superb playground with a small splash pad on the side.

Next to it is a popular skate park that used to be a tennis court. You’ll find several basketball hoops nearby, as well as trails with exercise equipment, baseball/softball fields, and soccer fields.

Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Oaklawn (IL), IL
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