4 hidden family gems in Chicago’s South suburbs

As a longtime south suburban resident (just about 10 minutes outside of the Chicago city limits), I’m often surprised at how much is still left undiscovered in this geography and am thrilled to spread the word about the places I do find that families might love to visit and explore! I thought I would share a few of my favorites here as an introduction to the newest slant of my column to introduce all of you to south suburban life and events! Here are some of our favorite “hidden gems” that you should head out to this weekend!

Children’s Museum of Oak Lawn

Oak Lawn, Illinois

Located right near the Oak Lawn Metra station stop on 95th street, this hidden gem of family activities will create the perfect way to escape the winter cold and beat the stay-in-the-house doldrums. Two levels of fun for all ages, the museum is a local find that provides plenty of entertainment without breaking the bank. My sons, Charlie and Jack, love the real-life grocery store, performance theater and tree house climber! Love it? Consider a full year’s membership as a gift this season!

Doughs Guys Bakery

Chicago Ridge, Illinois

Ever heard of a Maple Bacon Long John? These delicious treats can be found at our local now-famous bakery. Doughs Guys Bakery was featured on Chicago’s Best and makes our must-stop list this season. From cupcakes to doughnuts to pastries to cakes, they do just about anything you can imagine. With a hometown feel, friendly staff and delicious eats, you just might find yourself putting this store on your weekly rotation. I recommend the chocolate chip coffee cake to feed a crowd.

Mother Butters Popcorn and Confectionary

Evergreen Park, Illinois

Looking for the perfect holiday gift this season? Or just a delicious treat yourself? As featured on Windy City Live, Mother Butters Popcorn and Confectionary will have you coming back for seconds! Whether you’re looking for a fundraiser or just something to add to a grab bag, there are flavors and sizes for all occasions. This is one of our favorite stops for snacking and with a location right off 95th Street, it’s easy to find! I recommend the Dark Chocolate Peppermint Bark and a batch of the Bacon Chipotle Cheddar popcorn. YUM!

Southwest Ice Arena

Crestwood, Illinois

Every year, I hear friends talking about places to ice skate and if you’re looking for an alternative to the outdoors, check out Southwest Ice Arena. Charlie took skating lessons there earlier this year and absolutely loved them! With a larger official rink and smaller rink, there are options for skaters of all skill levels. For the holiday season, they even have Holiday Skating Hours and Skate with Santa available for when kids are off from school and you’re making those final holiday week preparations.

What are some hidden finds you’ve found in the South suburbs? Share with us! You can also find some great holiday ideas over on Chicago Parent’s Pinterest page.

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