Paris or Palos

By Jack Murray

Not everyone managed to travel out of town on vacation this summer. Lacking the time or funds to get away, they might consider a staycation, or day trips to local attractions, right here in their own backyard.

The Palos area abounds with places for families to swim, fish, golf, hike, bicycle, camp, canoe, kayak, shop, dine, or enjoy cultural outings.

Music to the Ears

One can begin this hypothetical week-long staycation at Concert in the Park. It will take place today, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., near the gazebo at Memorial Park, in Palos Heights. Dancing Queen, an Abba tribute band, will perform the songs made famous by the Swedish pop group. Afterward, it’s a short and sweet sundae drive for ice cream to Diane’s Place in Palos Heights or the quaint Plush Horse, which scoops up dozens of flavors, in Palos Park.

Take a Dip

  The next day, Friday, the family can keep cool at the Olympic-size Palos Heights Pool, just south of Memorial Park. Open swim, from noon to 5 p.m., costs $6 for residents, $10 for others. Residents can swim for free on Fridays, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The rest of the week, it costs $4 for residents, $8 for others to swim during those hours.

The pool offers its iconic body slide, a drop slide and diving board. Babies and toddlers can splash in the 2-feet deep wading pool, and a concession stand caters to hungry swimmers.

Gone Fishing

On Saturday, why not rise and shine early to go fishing? The Palos area teems with lakes and ponds in the nearby forest preserves. Close by are Arrowhead Lake, 135th Street just east of Harlem Avenue; Turtlehead Lake, Harlem just south of 135th; and Papoose Lake, McCarthy Road just west of LaGrange Road. Boat rentals are available at Tampier Lake, 131st Street west of Wolf Road.

A valid Illinois fishing license is required to fish any of those lakes. Purchase them at Walmart in Orland Hills, Dick’s Sporting Goods in Orland Park and Tinley Park, the Anglers Outlet in Tinley Park or the Worth village clerk’s office. Load up on bait at Susica in Orland Park, Bridgeview Sports Sales, the Fishing Connection or Anglers Outlet, both in Tinley Park. For more fishing facts, visit the Cook County Forest Preserve District’s website,

A Horse of Course

Rather ride than fish? Fitzjoy Farms Riding Academy, 12211 S. LaGrange Road in Palos Park, offers guided trail rides astride its horses year-round weather permitting. Its many other services include riding lessons, horsemanship classes and week-long day camps. For more, visit

Hit the Links

Tee times start at 7 a.m. at the challenging, well-maintained Oak Hills Country Club Golf Course, 13200 S. 76th Ave., in Palos Heights. More than 100 years old, it has been named the No. One nine-hole golf course by the Chicago Tribune. Golfers can try to win $10,000 with a hole-in-one contest from the first tee. Cost is $5 and includes a free drink at the end of the round. For golf rates and more, call 448-5544 or visit Oak

Palos Country Club, 13100 Southwest Highway, also offers a golf course and is a popular local venue for banquets of all sorts. It will hold a centennial celebration of 100 years of service on Sunday, Aug. 25. Doors open at 4 p.m., dinner served at 5 p.m. Joe Tirrito will perform a Tribute to Elvis, Dinner and show tickets cost $60. Call 448-6550 for reservations.

Make Camp

The Cook County Forest Preserve District operates two campgrounds near Palos. Camp Bullfrog Lake, 9600 Wolf Road, offers tent and RV campsites and cabins that sleep up to 10 people. Activities include fishing, canoeing, mountain biking, hiking and nights around the campfire. A short drive away, the Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center, 9800 Willow Springs Road, bustles with exhibits and activities.

The accommodations at Camp Sullivan, 14630 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Forest, consist of cabins, bunkhouses and RV and tent camping. Campers can explore its iconic red barn, which contains a climbing wall. Campfires are among Friday and Saturday evening programs. The Tinley Creek Trail System lies nearby for scenic hikes. For more visit,

Paddle or Pedal in Palos

Lake Katherine Nature Center and Botanical Gardens, 7402 W. Lake Katherine Drive, Palos Heights, offers kayak and canoe rentals Monday to Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. They cost $8 per person per hour to rent. You might see plenty of wildlife as you paddle the scenic lake. Reservations are preferred. Call 361-1873.

Lake Katherine is open daily from dawn till dusk. The Frank Passarelli Nature Center, filled with exhibits and artifacts, is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; closed Sundays. For upcoming programs, visit Lake Katherine’s grounds provide one of the many access for bicyclists to ride on the 26-mile long Cal-Sag Trail. It winds its way from the Burnham Greenway near the Indiana border west to Lemont, providing beautiful vistas along the way.

Uphill Climb

Hikers can find many scenic trails in the forest preserves near Palos. However, Swallow Cliff Woods, Route 83 west of LaGrange Road near Palos Park, provides a demanding workout, climbing its 125 limestone stairs. Walkers who reach the top of the 100-foot bluff are rewarded with a splendid view of the Moraine Valley below.

Down on the Farm

The Children’s Farm at The Center, 12700 Southwest Highway, in Palos Park, will hold its mammoth rummage sale Friday and Saturday, Aug. 23 and 24, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Visitors can see horses, chickens and many other farm animals during open farm days, Saturdays and Sundays, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. For more, visit

Behold the Arts

At least three art galleries serve the Palos area. Moraine Valley Community College’s Fine and Performing Arts Center on the campus in Palos Hills contains one of them, as well as two theaters. Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights is home to the Seerveld Gallery. Visit the colleges’ respective websites for more.

The exhibit called Beautiful Moments: The Artwork of Kil Soon Yan opens Wednesday, Aug. 21, at the McCord Gallery and Cultural Center, 9602 W. Creek Road in Palos Park. Her oil paintings depict the beauty of nature, including portraits of people and animals, seasonal landscapes and floral scenes. Gallery hours are weekdays, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

McCord will present the music of Matt Piet & Friends in Concert later the same day, at 7:30 p.m. They will perform jazz and popular standards. Tickets cost $15. For more, call 671-0648 or visit

Dine or Shop Local

Just as vacationers do, staycationers likely enjoy dining out and shopping. An array of independent retail stores, service businesses and dining establishments exist in Palos Park and Palos Heights. Their websites, and, contain business directories that list more than 500 of them, their locations and contact information.

Photos by Jack Murray

Published in The Regional News on August 15, 2019.

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