Blake Walsh

15 Free Things to Do in Oak Lawn, IL

  • Published 2023/02/28

The village of Oak Lawn is one of the suburban communities surrounding Chicago in Cook County, Illinois.

This small community is known in the county for more than 300 acres of its land area, comprised of parks and outdoor recreation spots.

This village was established in the mid-1800s as a farming community.

It has plenty of open fields, eventually turning into a residential area, most of which became parks.

Meanwhile, some became wildlife and nature preserves.

Thus, it’s not surprising that many of Chicago’s locals drive to Oak Lawn for outdoor recreation and relaxation.

Besides its charming parks, Oak Lawn is known as a top-notch leisure area in the county.

Visiting Oak Lawn offers a unique travel experience without driving far from Chicago.

However, before packing your bags, read this list of the free things to do in Oak Lawn, Illinois, for awesome travel ideas.

Commune with Nature at Wolfe Wildlife Park

Wolfe Wildlife Park is a popular outdoor and natural attraction known for its rich flora and fauna.

You can visit this park between Laramie Avenue and W 109th Street.

This park, where Stony Creek runs, has a vast wetland and forested area.

It’s home to over a hundred bird species and other local wildlife.

With that in mind, it’s a favorite spot for birdwatchers and animal lovers who frequently visit this park to see them up close.

You’ll likely come across double-crested cormorants, black-crowned night herons, and white egrets at this park.

Also, you’ll likely encounter turtles, foxes, raccoons, frogs, and monarch butterflies.

Wolfe Wildlife Park is the most prominent natural attraction in the area, so it’s fitting to start your Oak Lawn travel adventure there.

Catch Fish at Stony Creek

Stony Creek is a river that runs through Oak Lawn and neighboring towns and cities in Cook County.

You can visit this creek in many locations across Oak Lawn if you want to check out its fishing spots.

Fishing at this creek allows you to join local anglers to enjoy the activity on a regular day in Oak Lawn.

According to local anglers, some of the most common fish they catch are bowfin and carp using fly fishing, baitcasting, and spinning as their preferred methods.

Regardless of your fishing experience, fishing at Stony Creek is a perfect way to get acquainted with what locals love to do.

Hit a Home Run at Lawn Manor Park

Lawn Manor Park is one of Oak Lawn’s most popular parks.

You can visit this park along S. Kostner Avenue.

The park, which spans over eight acres, opened in 1961 to answer the growing demand of Oak Lawn’s growing community which needs an outdoor recreational space.

Today, the park is famous as a top-notch sports facility.

It’s home to substantial baseball fields and soccer, basketball, and sand volleyball courts.

Head to Lawn Manor Park for a friendly baseball game or perhaps play basketball, soccer, or sand volleyball, depending on your preference.

Otherwise, you can take a seat on your picnic blanket under the tree at this park and appreciate the outdoors.

Showcase Your Skating Skills at Worthbrook Park

Worthbrook Park is another park worthy of visiting because of its amenities.

You can visit this park between 90th Street and Ridgeland Street.

Compared to other parks, this one is a top-notch skateboarding destination mainly because of its nice skate park.

Most of Oak Lawn’s and even visiting skaters love to show off their best tricks here.

Head to Worthbrook Park for some fun skateboarding experience with your pals or local skaters.

Besides skating, this 8.8-acre park has a baseball field, a picnic area, a football field, basketball courts, and a soccer field.

Catch Games at Centennial Park

Centennial Park is considered the leading outdoor recreation area for Oak Lawn Park Districts.

You can visit this park along Oak Park Drive.

This park spans over 38 acres and hosts numerous sports events such as youth soccer leagues, adult softball competitions, sand volleyball tilts, and nerf-football programs.

At the same time, it has a colorful playground, picnic area, and an inline-skating court.

It’s where you’ll see many of Oak Lawn’s locals spending their weekends cheering for their favorite softball team.

Drop by Centennial Park and see how locals compete with each other in their beloved sports.

Appreciate the Gorgeous Scenery of Lakeshore Park

Lakeshore Park is one of Oak Lawn’s oldest and most beloved parks.

You can visit this park along East Shore Drive.

The park is known throughout Oak Lawn for its gorgeous sceneries, which faces a small lake and nearby neighborhoods.

The park features a picnic area, two playgrounds, sports facilities, and a greenery that usually hosts free concerts and snowshoeing events during winter.

Despite its size, many locals love to visit this park to relax and enjoy the scenic view of the small lake.

At the same time, locals enjoy various outdoor activities at this park, especially snowshoeing during winter.

Remember to list Lakeshore Park in your itinerary for some worthwhile outdoor experiences.

Watch Young Athletes at Oak Lawn Spartan Athletic Complex

The Oak Lawn Spartan Athletic Complex is another worthwhile place to catch local baseball tournaments.

You can visit this sports complex which is home to numerous baseball fields along W 93rd Street.

Like other parks in Oak Lawn, this one also regularly hosts baseball tournaments, particularly for school-based teams such as the Spartans.

Visiting this park allows you to watch with locals and enjoy another round of baseball games, especially the local youth teams competing with each other.

Remember to drop by Oak Lawn Spartan Athletic Complex for some excellent baseball action.

Travel Back in Time at Patrick Sullivan Park

Patrick Sullivan Park is an excellent place to enjoy outdoor activities and a historical side trip.

You can visit this park between S. Kostner Avenue and 99th Street.

Despite its compact size, this park is Oak Lawn’s oldest and was formerly known as Beverly Lawn Park in 1955.

The park was then renamed in the late 1990s.

Like most parks, expect playgrounds, picnic areas, and sports facilities for baseball, basketball, tennis, soccer, and softball within its five-acre area.

However, you can also find traces of its past, such as its park signs and neighborhood.

At the same time, local elders who grew up visiting this park still visit regularly.

So, check out Patrick Sullivan Park to enjoy the outdoors and learn more about Oak Lawn’s past.

Other Free Things to Do Nearby

Don’t go home right after visiting Oak Lawn.

Since Oak Lawn is roughly a 30-minute drive from Chicago, seize the opportunity to tour the Windy City.

Below are some recommended places and activities to enjoy nearby Oak Lawn.

See Majestic Animals at the Lincoln Park Zoo

Signage of Lincoln Park Zoo

Jay Yuan /

Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the few zoos that offer free admission to see the animals living there.

You can visit this zoo 31 minutes north of Oak Lawn in Chicago, Illinois.

The zoo is home to over a thousand animals, from alpacas, apes, and lions, to zebras which you can see while roaming inside with your loved ones.

A lion at Lincoln Park Zoo

Matthew J Davis /

The entire zoo covers 35 acres and welcomes millions of visitors worldwide each year.

Lincoln Park Zoo offers an immersive experience of seeing the animals in captivity with various themed enclosures from the Artic, Africa, Amazon, Asia, and many more environments.

In addition, the zoo hosts various themed events for everyone to enjoy.

A gorilla at Lincoln Park Zoo

Christophe KLEBERT /

Explore the Gensburg-Markham Prairie

Lone tree at Gensburg-Markham Prairie

Jim Behymer, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Gensburg-Markham Prairie is one of the unspoiled natural areas in Cook County.

This nature conservancy area is in Markham, Illinois, 18 minutes or 10.4 miles south of Oak Lawn.

Many nature and wildlife enthusiasts love to spend time at this place to explore the Indian Boundary Prairies, which spans over 167 acres.

Nature scene at Gensburg-Markham Prairie

Jim Behymer, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This place lets you see the area’s unspoiled natural beauty filled with abundant wildlife and exotic plant species.

One of the best ways to enjoy your time at the Gensburg-Markham Prairie is by hiking through its trails.

It takes you to wetlands, forests, and meadows, home to gorgeous butterflies and wild birds.

Journey through the Cranberry Slough Nature Preserve

The Cranberry Slough Nature Preserve is a vast natural area near Oak Lawn.

You can visit this nature preserve 15 minutes or nine miles southwest of Oak Lawn in Willow Springs, Illinois.

This unspoiled natural area spans over 372 acres, including 35 miles of nature trails.

With all that in mind, visiting this place calls for an outdoor adventure.

Hiking this nature preserve allows you to see various natural habitats, ecosystems, lush flora, and fauna up close.

Spend some time at the Cranberry Slough Nature Preserve for an extraordinary outdoor adventure with your loved ones.

Watch Your Reflection on the Bean at Millennium Park

Daytime view of The Bean

Max Herman /

The Bean is probably one of the world’s most popular public art installations.

Don’t miss seeing this up close at Millenium Park in Chicago, 30 minutes from Oak Lawn.

This famous artwork is known for its massive, mercury-shaped structure and reflective surface.

People admiring The Bean

Roman Korotkov /

Its reflective features allow people to see themselves in mirror-like effects, usually as everyone’s Instagram or Facebook photos.

Visiting the Bean is on everyone’s bucket list, so remember to add this famous public art installation to your itinerary.

Buildings reflecting on The Bean

Ian Dikhtiar /

Follow the Famous Cal-Sag Trail

Head to the Cal-Sag Trail before returning home for one last round of hiking.

You can visit this trail within 15 minutes or nine miles southwest of Oak Lawn.

The entire trail spans over 26 miles which takes you to various cities and towns in Cook County.

Hiking this trail allows you to explore Cook County from a different perspective.

Along the trail are parks, neighborhoods, and historical sites, which you can drop by to see up close.

Bring your hiking boots and walking stick and visit the Cal-Sag Trail for an enjoyable hike.

Explore the Gorgeous Lake Katherine Nature Center and Botanic Garden

Geese at Lake Katherine Nature Center and Botanic Garden

Kim Lewis Photography /

The Lake Katherine Nature Center and Botanic Garden boast some of the most gorgeous natural views throughout Cook County.

You can visit this outdoor attraction in Palos Heights, Illinois, 16 minutes from Oak Lawn.

This place is renowned for its waterfalls, gardens, nature trails, and towering native trees that thrive within its vicinity.

The whole place spans over 85 acres and is one of Cook County’s best places for nature hiking and sightseeing.

During your hike, you’ll pass through its gorgeous botanic garden, home to thousands of plant and flower species.

At the same time, its trails can lead you to its gorgeous lake and waterfalls.

Wander the Lake Katherine Nature Center and Botanic Garden for a splendid experience with nature.

Stroll through the Chicago Riverwalk

Entrance arch of the Chicago Riverwalk

Jessica Kirsh /

Your visit to Chicago won’t be complete without taking a stroll through the famous Riverwalk.

This attraction welcomes millions of tourists yearly, strolling through the scenic location that meanders the Chicago River.

The entire riverwalk spans over 1.25 miles and is home to attractions from historical sites, shops, and famous places in Chicago.

People at the Chicago Riverwalk

Bumble Dee /

While strolling, stop by famous places such as the Arcade, the Civic, Esplanade, and the Confluence.

Bring your loved ones to the famous Riverwalk for a one-of-a-kind travel experience in the Windy City.

The Chicago Riverwalk is 30 minutes from Oak Lawn.

Walkway of the Chicago Riverwalk

Thomas Barrat /

Final Thoughts

Oak Lawn isn’t just your typical sleepy suburban community.

It’s packed with plenty of outdoor recreation and fun, making it ideal for some worthwhile family bonding near Chicago.

Outside Oak Lawn’s borders lies plenty more outdoor attractions and activities that guarantee a fun-filled experience.

Start planning your budget-friendly adventure with this well-curated list of free things to do in Oak Lawn, Illinois.

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