Incorporated as recently as 2001, Homer Glen is a new village east of Lockport and home to around 25,000.
Although Homer Glen is ensconced in the suburbs, there’s still a lot of countryside all around, with rolling cornfields and many fruit and vegetable farms.
Plenty of these sell delicious produce on their doorsteps, and open their doors in fall for hayrides and pumpkin picking.
One advantage of being a relatively new community is that many of Homer Glen’s growing nexus of subdivisions are linked by walking and biking trails.
This network was unveiled in 2011 and continues to expand across the suburb more than a decade later.
For a walk or bike ride in nature, the Spring Creek Greenway traces Spring Creek through a chain of Will County forest preserves south of Homer Glen.
1. Heritage Park
Next to the village hall and public library, the 103-acre Heritage Park is intended as a central gathering space for Homer Glen.
The park took shape in the late 2010s, with future phases in the pipeline, and already has a big range of amenities.
One is Active Core, an exercise area equipped with fitness equipment, tennis courts, pickleball courts, sand volleyball courts, a fun challenge course, a nature-based play area and a sensory garden.
There’s also an 18-hole disc golf course and a multipurpose walking and biking trail. Year round, Heritage Park is the anchor for community events, from Halloween activities to Christmas lights and HomerFest in June.
2. Tampier Lake
On Homer Glen’s northeast shoulder is a scenic lake within a Cook County forest preserve.
You can reach the Tampier Lake Boating Center with ease from Homer Glen, and from early April through late October you can rent a variety of craft including single and tandem kayaks, rowboats, canoes and boats with electric motors.
Tampier Lake also has more than 130 acres of fishable water, with substantial numbers of largemouth bass, walleye, crappier, northern pike and channel catfish.
On land the Sag Valley Trail skirts the south side of the preserve, before cutting north and circling another body of water at McGinty Slough.
3. Hadley Valley Forest Preserve
An access point for this Will County forest preserve can be found in the very south of Homer Glen.
Hadley Valley Forest Preserve is part of an award-winning system of preserves on the banks of Spring Creek, adding up to more than 2,000 acres.
At Bruce Road you can get onto a five-mile section of the Spring Creek Greenway Trail, paved with crushed limestone and primed for hiking, bicycling, horseback riding plus snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in winter.
There’s a diversity of habitats in Hadley Valley, running the gamut from wetlands to savanna and forest, with more than 15,000 species of mammals, birds, insects, fish, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates recorded.
4. Bengtson’s Pumpkin Farm and Fall Fest
Of all the farms in the area putting on a fall festival, Bengtson’s Pumpkin Farm is arguably the pick of the bunch.
Everything kicks into gear in mid-September, and for the next six+ weeks you head over for the pumpkin patch, more than a dozen attractions and all manner of autumnal activities.
For a taste there’s hayrides, pony rides, pig races, a rollercoaster, a haunted barn, a multi-lane slide and an array of carnival rides.
Part of the joy of visiting any farm is meeting the animals, and Bengtson’s Pumpkin Farm has llamas, turkeys, bunnies, chickens and adorable baby goats.
You can purchase comforting fall bites like apple cider donuts and sweet corn, and there’s also BBQ, tacos, nachos, loaded sandwiches and down-home favorites cooked over an open-flame.
5. Konow’s Corn Maze
There’s a family fall fest at another farm in Homer Glen, in a beautiful setting framed by rippling cornfields, over head height at this time of year.
You have, not just one, but two corn mazes to solve here. One is for people who don’t mind getting a little lost, as it has almost 3.5 miles of twists and turns.
The other, smaller maze is perfect for younger children, at a little under half a mile. Beyond this you’ve got hayrides, a giant straw playground, a barrel train, two jumpy pillows, duck races, pony rides and a grain train.
There’s also a petting zoo with domestic animals, and a cafe for treats like funnel cake and pizza and hotdogs, as well as healthy choices like farm-fresh veggie foil packets and salads.
6. Puckerville Farms
Now into its third generation, this charming, family-run farm opens up for the fall and Christmas seasons. In 1991 Puckerville Farms started a casual pumpkin stand, and this has evolved into a variety of autumnal attractions.
You can still come to select a pumpkin, from a wide array of sizes, but there’s also a playset, carnival rides for youngsters and tractor-pulled hayrides.
The farm has also made a name for its excellent homemade honey, a pale shade of amber, with a subtle flavor. At Christmas, Puckerville Farms is popular for its freshly cut Fraser firs, and also sells hand-crafted garlands and wreaths.
7. Homer Glen Heroes Trail
First opened in 2011 and dedicated to local heroes and people who have made a positive impact on the community, the Homer Glen Heroes Trail is a large and growing web of paths weaving through the village.
The main section connects two parks, Yangas Park and Culver Park, meandering through a series of subdivisions on the way. In the last 10+ years, an extension has been added to Goodings Grove, site of the Homer Town Square Shopping Center.
When we wrote this article there was also a planned extension from Heatherwood Drive in the west to the various amenities at Heritage Park.
8. Homer Honey Farm
In Homer Glen you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to fresh produce. Homer Honey Farm has been a local favorite for years, and you can keep up to date with what’s ready for picking on their Facebook page.
The farm takes great pride in its homemade honey, but summer through fall you can head over for an ever-changing bounty of fruit and vegetables.
Typically the season starts with zucchini in June, and then you’ve got pickles, cabbage, early peaches, eggplant, garlic, onions, blueberries, blackberries, donut peaches, bell peppers, apples and squashes.
The farm produces lots of brown eggs and honey year round, and you can arrange a visit to pick some up.
Perhaps the most anticipated annual event in Homer Glen is this four-day festival in late June, held at Heritage Park.
There’s a carnival for all four days of Homerfest, bursting with rides and midway games. In the evenings you’ve got a packed bill of live music in the Beer Tent, while the signature event is the Homer Township Annual Independence Day Parade along Parker Road, north from 151st street.
Throughout the event you can choose from an enticing range of food vendors, while some other highlights included fireworks and an aircraft flyover.
10. Market in the Glen
Heritage Park is also the setting for Homer Glen’s biweekly farmers’ market. From mid-May to mid-September.
This takes place on the first and third Thursday of the month, from 3 pm to 7 pm. Market in the Glen has close to 40 vendors most weeks, many of which are based in Homer Glen or close by.
For a sense of what’s on offer there’s freshly picked fruit and vegetables of course, but also lavender, artisanal coffee, natural honey, salsas, cupcakes, gourmet seasonings and a lot more besides.
Freshly made food is also part of the experience, be it BBQ, Mexican street food or soft pretzels.
11. Messenger Marsh
Upstream from Hadley Valley is another space in the care of the Will County Forest Preserve District. On 620 acres, Messenger Marsh combines a wetland site with savanna, forest and riparian habitats along Spring Creek.
Some 110 bird species have been counted at this site, along with stunning wildflowers like white lettuce (in bloom late summer), hispid sunflower (late summer) and hairy beardtongue (spring/early summer).
You can follow a long section of the Spring Creek Greenway at Messenger Marsh, close to 3.5 miles and paved with crushed limestone.
12. T-Time Range & Family Fun Center
One of a string of businesses on 159th St. (Illinois Route 7), T-Time Range & Family Fun Center is an affordable option for an hour two hitting balls, be they golf balls or baseballs.
Weather permitting, this spot is open seven days a week and has a driving range with numerous hitting stations, batting cages and a miniature golf course.
Value-wise the T-Time Range can’t be beaten, at just $6 for a bucket of golf balls when we wrote this article. It’s a good idea to bring your own clubs, bats and helmets, but you can also rent them for a small fee.
13. Erin Hills Park
Some people have lived in the area for years without realizing that there’s a beautiful park by Long Run Creek in the Erin hills subdivision.
Surrounded by peaceful and upscale residential streets, Erin Hills Park is around 15 acres, with picnic areas, a gazebo, a children’s playground and a trail that winds around the property.
You can use the latter to get to a nature preserve with a long pond fringed by woods and grassland. One unusual feature is a practice putting green, so golfers fine-tune their short game at this park.
As the headquarters for the construction of the Illinois and Michigan Canal in the 1830s and 40s, this town directly west of Homer Glen helped make it possible to ship goods inland from New Orleans to New York.
One structure dating from the project is the Gaylord Building, which has an exhibit about the canal, while Lincoln Landing in front is an outdoor museum with educational bronze medallions in the paving.
There’s a branch of the Illinois State Museum in another historic canalside building, and you can walk the towpath on the canal trail as far as LaSalle, passing many points of historical interest on the route.
Just south of Lockport is the Old Joliet Prison, dating back to the 1850s and a filming location for many Tv Shows and movies, from Prison Break to The Blues Brothers.
15. Garden Patch Farms and Orchard
The Hiller family has worked this land since Henry Hiller, great-grandfather of the current owners, purchased the property in 1938.
Henry’s son, who early took over the business in the 1980s, planted rows of apple trees on the farm in 1997, and those are key to the farm’s success today.
Previously a U-Pick farm, Garden Patch Farms now runs a farm stand that you can check out, spring through fall. This opens as a garden center at the start of the season, selling hanging baskets, trees and vegetable plants.
Then as spring gives way to summer you can purchase a massive range of fruits and vegetables, fresh from the fields, along with the farm’s own pure honey.