Destination: Orland Park

| February 7, 2009 | 0 Comments

By: Shannon Capanna

Orland Park is a suburb located 25 miles southwest of Chicago. You need only to take a trip down its main drag, LaGrange Road, to realize that the city is a major shopping destination. In fact, according to this Wikipedia entry, Orland Park is the 7th largest sales tax revenue-generator in the state of Illinois. It sort of functions as a “Chicago lite” for us south suburbanites, in that it provides many establishments that we would otherwise have to trek into the city for. For example, it houses the only suburban Filene’s Basement in the Chicago area. There’s a killer mall that hasn’t fallen victim to the ravages of time the way some indoor malls have. And there’s always the fun, yet nutritionally dangerous, World’s Finest Chocolate outlet store.

But this past Tuesday, my 22-month-old and I didn’t go to Orland Park in search of retail-based entertainment. We were instead following a tip about that rarest of wintertime Chicagoland meccas, a free indoor playground. We headed to the Franklin E. Loebe Recreation Center,located just off the intersection of LaGrange Road and 147th Street. Besides the indoor playground, the center houses a variety of other indoor recreational facilities, such as a gymnasium and a walking track.

But we were there for the playground, as were a lot of other cabin fever-stricken moms and tots. I could not gush more about how perfect this facility is. Unlike so many other indoor activities, this place involved almost zero hassle. There was no fee to pay, no annoying parking situation, and no major overstimulation for child or parent. It’s geared toward the little kids (I’d say 4 and under), which is another refreshing change of pace from other indoor recreational locations. The entire playground is probably the size of a preschool classroom, and that houses a cute Clifford-themed climbing structure and a smaller structure for the pre-walking set. The floors are padded, your kid can’t run very far away, and there’s plenty of good mom conversation. I even got a hot tip on this mom’s group that has regular meetups at the facility.

When the indoor playground got a little too crowded, we headed over to the Orland Park Public Library, which was only 0.1 miles away according to my GPS. We aren’t residents of Orland Park, so we couldn’t check out books there. This was simply an exploratory mission. The facility is impressive and modern, and I appreciated their retail-style signs to direct patrons to various sections. The children’s area has an impressive literary collection, plus a lot of the cool Melissa and Doug puzzles that make sounds. There are also blocks, a machine that reads to you, and a couple of these things that are always present in libraries and doctor’s offices. The library has comfy retro so-out-it’s-in-again seating, the perfect place to while away a snowy day. (See above photo of my little reader.)

The best part? We stopped for a quick lunch and still made it home again before naptime!

Shannon Capanna is a writer, editor, and mom who lives in south suburban Homewood with her husband, toddler son, and cat.  She blogs at ChicagoMoms Blog, and at her personal site,
target=”_blank”>Boringtown’s Closed.

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Category: See & Plays

About the Author ()

Head Chicagonista, Co-host of the Chicagonista LIVE! show, Lead blogger for, and Co-Founder of Women Driving Excellence. MJ is also the annual host of SocialRevUp - Brands & Bloggers Summit (#bbsummit) attended by about 200 professional high-profile bloggers nationwide. Follow MJ on Twitter: @mjtam

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