In the Chicago Southland, Tinley Park is a suburb that almost doubled in population between the 1980s and 2020.
This village has long been considered one of the best places in Chicagoland to raise children, and in that vein has an abundance of family-friendly attractions to go with its excellent public parks, extensive bike path system and numerous community events like a weekly farmers’ market.
Something that brings a lot of visitors to Tinley Park is the immense Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, an outdoor music venue that has welcomed a long list of major stars since it opened 30+ years ago.
Despite being just 25 miles from Chicago, Tinley Park is the kind of place where you can take horseback rides in forest preserves and go on haunted hayrides in fall.
1. White Water Canyon Water Park
Summers in Tinley Park wouldn’t be the same without this fun-filled outdoor water park, operated by the local park district.
Open June to Labor Day weekend, White Water Canyon is right in the middle of Tinley Park and has five acres of attractions to keep kids entertained.
The Spray Ground is a treat, with its water cannons, jets, enormous refilling bucket, flowers that squirt water and sand play area.
The large main pool has beach entry and a three-meter drop slide, and you can climb the steps for three more slides, each with a different speed.
For relaxation you can grab a single or double tube and head for the 600-foot lazy river, meandering non-stop around the park.
2. Forest View Farms
With a history reaching back to the 1950s, this family farm backs onto a big parcel of the Cook County Forest Preserve.
Forest View Farms is a multifaceted attraction offering a variety of seasonal experiences. In summer you could visit for a horseback trail ride, while pony rides are also offered on the farm grounds for children.
If you would like riding lessons, these are available year round thanks to a heated indoor arena, as well as two outdoor arenas for turnout.
There’s also a petting farm with adorable animals, open May through November, and there’s spooky fun at the Fall Festival in October when you can go on a haunted hayride.
3. Hailstorm Brewing Co.
The Chicago area is a craft beer paradise, only bested by Portland, Oregon for breweries per capita.
Tinley Park is part of that wave with a craft brewery in an industrial park in the south of the village. Hailstorm has 18 beers on tap at any time, and some of these are out-there creations.
Along with familiar brews like an Irish-style red lager, Mexican lager and American IPA, are bizarre beers evoking smores, key lime pie or raspberry cheesecake.
The taproom has a host of events, like open mics, trivia nights and concerts, and also bucks the trend by having its own kitchen.
4. Vogt Visual Arts Center
This gallery, exhibiting the work of local and renowned artists, is housed in the elegant 19th-century home of Tinley Park’s first mayor, Henry Vogt.
The center, founded in 1996, puts on captivating temporary shows throughout the year, dedicated to specific artists or wider movements and themes.
There’s also a program of classes for young people and adults, in skills as varied as watercolors, stained glass and ceramics, as well as a slew of events like art fairs and concerts.
5. Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre
Since 1990 Tinley Park has laid claim to one of the largest live music destinations in Chicagoland.
For sponsorship reasons the venue changes name regularly, and is now known as the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre.
Set outside, but with a gigantic framework covering the stage and first tiers of seating, the amphitheatre can hold close to 29,000 spectators.
As a rule of thumb, if there’s a top band or artist visiting Chicago in the summer there’s a good chance they’ll be playing here, while there’s a succession of festivals throughout the warmer months.
The list of past performers is a who’s who of rock, pop and hip hop and includes David Bowie, Lana Del Rey, Nicki Minaj, Bob Dylan, The Who and Paul McCartney.
6. Accelerate Indoor Speedway
This spectacular indoor electric karting facility is just past the south end of Tinley Park, by the I-80.
Of course, Accelerate Indoor Speedway organizes leagues for experienced and competitive racers, while welcoming large groups, from company outings to family reunions, bachelor and bachelorette parties and birthday parties.
But you can also just show up and race on a “walk-in” basis, without reservation and needing only a safety briefing from the track’s experienced instructors.
As for the karts, these are Italian-made pocket rockets, capable of 50 mph. The speedway is part of a complex also containing a bar & grill, an axe-throwing attraction and an arcade.
7. Tinley Park Historical Society
The oldest public building in the village is the Old Zion Landmark church, constructed in a Prairie Gothic style in 1884.
This monument is preserved as a museum by the Tinley Park Historical Society, founded to mark the Bicentennial in 1974.
You can head in to peruse the society’s extensive collections, and take a look at the schoolhouse next door.
This building is a faithful reproduction of Tinley Park’s second one-room schoolhouse, in use from 1892 to 1954 and also serving as the village hall.
8. Crack the Code
Touted as the most intriguing escape room attraction in the Chicago area, Crack the Code has a choice of three rooms to solve.
These are put together with a lot of craft, and there’s always one suitable for younger members of the family.
At the time of writing the three rooms were Garden of Chaos (2-8 players), a mystic garden with a curse, Runaway Freight (2-6 players), where you have to escape a booby-trapped elevator and finally, Behind the Bookcase (2-5 players), in a haunted mansion.
All the rooms are infused with compelling stories and have intuitive puzzles, requiring teamwork as much as brainpower.
9. Tinley Park Convention Center
One of the premier venues for conventions, trade shows, festivals, concerts, seminars, private functions and other events in the Midwest can be found right here in Tinley Park.
Recently augmented, this complex has some 70,000 feet of event space, with ceilings climbing to 35 feet.
There are 21 different meeting rooms, with a total capacity for more than 6,000 people, but perfectly capable of staging more intimate events.
For a sense of the center’s flexibility, it has hosted motorcycle swap meets, reptile conventions, graduation ceremonies and the 350 Fest punk festival in the last few years.
10. Orland Square
The largest mall in the Chicago Southland is right next door in Orland Park. Orland Square has been open in some form since 1976, and has come through a big revamp in the last decade.
The anchors are Von Maur, Macy’s and JCPenney, and these are joined by more than 150 other stores.
You’ll find locations for brands like Gap, H&M, Eddie Bauer, Apple, Forever 21, LEGO, Sephora, Guess, Kay Jewelers, Lush and Pottery Barn.
When it comes to dining, there’s an updated food court with the usual suspects like Panda Express, Taco Bell and Mrs. Fields Cookies, as well as a Cheesecake Factory close by.
11. Gizmos Fun Factory
At more than 47,000 feet, this classic family fun center in Orland Park is a surefire hit on rainy days.
The main zones at Gizmos Fun Factory feature bumper cars, a ropes course and zip line, go karts, laser tag, a laser maze, climbing walls and a multi-story soft playspace for the littlest adventurers.
Also here is an arcade with more than 70 machines, from the latest titles to redemption games, as well as a restaurant with crowd-pleasing fast food, like pizza, burgers and wings.
12. Fannie May Outlet
One company inextricably tied to the Chicago area is this beloved confectioner, founded in the city in 1920.
Fannie May is rarely found beyond Illinois’ borders and has sponsored various Windy City sports teams, like the Cubs and Blackhawks.
In Tinley Park there’s a Fannie May outlet at the Park Center Plaza, by the junction of routes 6 and 43.
If you’re new to the brand and have a sweet tooth, be sure to get hold of a box of Pixies. This treat first hit the market in 1946 and features crunchy pecans covered in silky caramel and covered in milk or dark chocolate.
Other stars are the Mint Meltaways (mint chocolate), Carmarshes (caramel marshmallows) and Trinidads (chocolate truffles with a hint of coconut).
13. Odyssey Fun World
Now open for more than a quarter of a century is this family fun center closer to home in Tinley Park.
Odyssey Fun World has a huge arcade and a separate redemption center, with challenging games, and prizes like plush toys and candy.
Elsewhere there’s a multitude of attractions like mini golf, a zip line, batting cages, bumper boats, laser tag, an adventure park with bounce houses, a big indoor playground, go karts and even small carnival rides.
You can recharge at Chipper’s Cafe, serving pizza, Italian beef, Chicago hot dogs and the like.
14. Tinley Park Roller Rink
The kind of spot dying out in other places is still going strong in Tinley Park. This roller rink caters to birthday parties and private events, but also has a lively timetable of public skate sessions.
There’s a teen skate session on Friday nights, and family-oriented slots on Wednesday and Sundays.
And if you don’t have your own roller skates you can rent a pair for as little as $3. The rink also has a small arcade with a mix of old-school and brand new machines.
15. Bengtson’s Pumpkin Farm & Fall Fest
A little way west of Tinley Park in Homer Glen is a family-managed farm that has been in business for more than 40 years.
This is like any other farm until fall when, from September through November, you can visit for a ton of attractions.
In fact, there’s more going on at Bengtson’s Pumpkin Farm than we can fit on this list, but the big draws are hayrides, pony rides, a corn maze, a petting zoo with cute animals, a haunted house and pig races, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Obviously the pumpkin patch is essential, as is the great fall food like apple cider donuts and kettle corn.