Home Sweet Homewood

| March 7, 2009 | 1 Comment

By Shannon Capanna

I’m going to play Oprah and rattle off a few of my favorite things … hometown version!  My hometown is Homewood, a cute little commuter-friendly town located 25 miles south of downtown Chicago.

Let me give you some background information about myself.  I was born and raised in Southern California and moved to Chicago for my husband’s job just 5 years ago.  When I first moved, I thought nothing would ever be as awesome as living in SoCal.

But then I found Homewood.  Oh sure, it will never be able to replicate the gorgeous weather and scenic beauty of California, but it’s one of those hometowns that consistently makes me happy to be raising a child here.

The Homewood-Flossmoor Park District offers an astounding array of classes, everything from music for babies/toddlers to free Nintendo Wii for senior citizens.  The park district is connected with the H-F Racquet and Fitness Club, which is seriously the greatest gym ever and only costs about $40 per person, per month.  The place is huge, offering a 12,000 square foot fitness center, a huge variety of classes, a 4-lane pool, tennis courts, discount massage services, a fun daycare, and even yoga and swim lessons for children.

Did I mention that Homewood seems to have a park on every corner?  There are 32 park sites, which include a disc golf course, a splash pad in the summer months, two public pools, ice skating rinks (an indoor, for-pay one and some park district-sanctioned outdoor ones in the winter).  There is the vast and scenic Izaak Walton Forest Preserve, perfect for hiking, fishing, dog-walking, or watching little league games.  There is also the Irons Oaks Environmental Learning Center, home to day camps, various environmental and nature programs, and great birthday parties.

Strange as it may seem, the thing that gives me the most hometown, Norman Rockwell-esque warm fuzzies is the annual countdown to the Dairy Queen opening.   This particular DQ franchise has been family-owned for 54 years, and each year in March eager children (okay, and adults) watch as the number on the outside counts down to opening day.   And this weekend is the first weekend!  Spring is here!

Other Homewood food pleasures:

The flagship Aurelio’s Pizza location: This conversation-friendly (read: kid-friendly), kitschy place reminds me of the sort of pizza joint that would be the hangout for characters on a sitcom.  They offer thin-crust and deep-dish pizza, and there’s always Dum-Dum pops at the end!

Nielsen’s Bakery: My own personal happy place, this place offers a wide variety of traditional baked goods, as well as a reasonably-priced lunch special that comes with cake!  These guys have an annual Cubs vs. Sox cookie contest to see which team’s supporters buy the most cookies with the team logo.  They also won some fame as purveyors of the Obama and McCain photo cookies around election time.

Eat Rice Chinese Restaurant: Traditional mom ‘n pop Chinese restaurant with a fun name and deliciously addictive food.  They also serve the smoothies with the big straws and the tapioca balls at the bottom.

Bogart’s Charhouse: This is our standard date night place.  It’s a steakhouse with a Humphrey Bogart theme, complete with Maltese Falcons at every booth.  My favorite thing about this place is that you’re full by the time you finish the vegetable tray, bread, soup/salad, and relish tray that come standard with every meal.

And finally, I’d just like to give a shout-out to a great charity based in Homewood, the Jennifer S. Fallick Cancer Support Center.  This independent charity offers emotional support to cancer patients and their families absolutely free.  Services include several support groups (some for specific types of cancer), a lending library, events for families facing cancer, and wellness activities such as yoga, massage, and crochet.  The center receives approximately 300 calls and visits per week in their home-like environment.  It operates on fundraising dollars, and their Spring Walk of Hope is coming up.  This is a great place if you’re looking for support or an opportunity to help!

This is an original Chicagonista article.

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, Boringtown’s Closed.

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Category: Eats & Sips

About the Author ()

Joining Shannon Capanna in Home Sweet Homewood are her professor husband, toddler son, and giant cat. Career-wise, Shannon worked as an elementary school teacher for three years before becoming an editor for math textbooks. She quit that job to try to achieve that elusive work-life balance, and she is now trying to cobble together some kind of career as a writer, editor, and mom. Shannon enjoys swimming, watching quality television, and cat-watching.She also blogs at Chicago Moms Blog, and at her personal site, Boringtown's Closed.

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  1. Denise says:

    Hey, Thought I’d say hello. I was born and raised on the south side of Chicago and spent 16 years in Homewood. I currently live in Smyrna Georgia and recently discovered that Aurelio’s has opened a pizee joint only 15 minutes from my neighborhood. My husband, born and raise here in Georgia, is about to experience Joe’s recipe. I’m glad to hear you enjoy living in Homewood. A great place to raise children.

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