Top 10 Free things to do in Lansing, Illinois – A Hidden Gem in Cook County

Lansing, Illinois is often overlooked in favor of its larger neighbor, Chicago, but this charming village in Cook County is definitely worth a visit. With a range of free activities on offer, Lansing has something for everyone, whether you’re a local or a tourist. From outdoor adventures to cultural experiences, you won’t run out of things to do in this hidden gem. In this blog post, we’ve put together a list of the top 10 free things to do in Lansing, Illinois, so you can make the most of your visit. So, pack your bags, put on your walking shoes, and let’s explore this beautiful village together!

1. Explore the beauty of Thornton-Lansing Road Nature Preserve:

8 min (3.3 miles)

Lan-Oak Park View
Hiking and walking trails: The preserve offers several miles of well-maintained hiking and walking trails that allow visitors to explore the diverse habitats of the preserve. Visitors can choose from a variety of trails with different lengths and difficulty levels, depending on their interests and fitness levels.

Wildlife observation: The Thornton-Lansing Road Nature Preserve is home to a wide range of plant and animal species, including several rare and endangered species. Visitors can observe different birds, mammals, and reptiles in their natural habitats and learn about their behavior and ecological roles.

Educational opportunities: The preserve offers several educational programs and events throughout the year, including guided hikes, nature walks, and workshops. Visitors can learn about the different habitats, plant and animal species, and conservation efforts in the preserve and the surrounding areas.

2. Visit Lan-Oak Park:

5 min (1.3 miles)

Lan-Oak Park View

Recreational activities: Lan-Oak Park offers a range of recreational activities for visitors of all ages. From playgrounds and sports fields to walking trails and picnic areas, there is something for everyone to enjoy in the park. Visitors can bring their sports equipment and engage in games like soccer, tennis, and baseball or simply take a leisurely walk on the trails.

Community garden: The Lan-Oak Park District Community Garden is a unique feature of the park that allows residents to grow their fruits and vegetables. The garden promotes healthy living and sustainability, and visitors can learn about different gardening techniques and practices. The garden also hosts educational events and workshops throughout the year.

Natural beauty: Lan-Oak Park is a beautiful natural area that provides visitors with a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The park’s trees and greenery offer a serene atmosphere and a habitat for a wide variety of wildlife. Visitors can enjoy the sights and sounds of nature and relax in the park’s tranquil environment.

3. Birdwatching at Wampum Lake:

9 min (3.3 miles)

Birdwatching at Wampum Lake

Fishing: Wampum Lake is a popular destination for anglers of all levels. With nine bump-outs along its shoreline and a variety of fish species, including bluegill, largemouth bass, and

Wildlife watching: The Wampum Lake Nature Preserve is home to a diverse range of plant and animal life, including rare species such as the Eastern Massasauga rattlesnake. Visitors can explore the woods and wetlands to spot different mammals, reptiles, and birds that call the preserve home. Wildlife watching is a great way to learn about the natural environment and appreciate the beauty of the area.

4. Check out the Lansing Historical Museum:

6 min (1.8 miles)

Lansing Historical Museum
Unique Collection of Artifacts: The Lansing Historical Museum houses a unique collection of artifacts that highlights the community’s history, including the Lansing Journal’s digitized copies, original TF South High School yearbooks, old signs from shops and roadways, and farm implements and tools that remind visitors of Lansing’s pioneer origins. One of the museum’s main attractions is a full kitchen that provides visitors with a glimpse of early life in Lansing. The museum also features a unique collection of First Lady dolls, each accompanied by a tiny replica of their husband, the presidents of the United States.

Engaging Events and Programs: In addition to the museum’s vast collection of artifacts, the Lansing Historical Society hosts various events, including speakers, entertainers, historic walks, and special programs, which provide community members with numerous opportunities to engage with the past. The museum is open most Mondays from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Visitors can arrange visits at other times by contacting the curator, Barb Dust, at 708-474-7497. Moreover, during the summer months, when programs are on hiatus, the museum is open again, allowing visitors to explore the fascinating history of Lansing at their leisure.

5. Visit the Lansing Public Library:

7 min (1.9 miles)

Lansing Public Library

Engaging Events and Programs: The Lansing Public Library offers a range of programs and events for people of all ages. These include children’s storytimes, teen programs, and adult book clubs. The library also hosts author talks, craft workshops, and other community events that bring people together and foster a love of learning.

Cultural hub in Lansing: In addition to its physical resources and programs, the Lansing Public Library also provides access to a range of online resources, including e-books, audiobooks, and online databases. These resources can be accessed from home or at the library and offer patrons a wealth of information and entertainment options. The library’s friendly and knowledgeable staff is always available to assist patrons with their research, reading recommendations, or any other questions they may have. They can also help visitors navigate the library’s digital resources and offer computer assistance.

6. Take a bike ride on the Burnham Greenway:

5 min (1.5 miles)

ride on the Burnham Greenway

Discovering Nature’s Wonders: The Burnham Greenway is a 22-mile trail located in Cook and Lake counties in northeastern Illinois, accessible to hikers, runners, cyclists, and horseback riders year-round. It offers scenic views of forests, prairies, and wetlands and is named after Daniel Burnham, an important urban planner in Chicago.

Linking Trails and Commutes: The Burnham Greenway is an important transportation link for residents of northeastern Illinois, providing connections to several other trails and bike paths, as well as public transportation options, such as the Metra Electric Line and the Pace Bus System.

Educational Opportunities and Special Events: The Forest Preserves of Cook County offers visitors educational programs, volunteer opportunities, and special events, such as guided hikes and nature walks, that allow them to connect with the natural world and learn more about the area’s rich cultural heritage.

Overall, the Burnham Greenway is a versatile and accessible outdoor destination that offers visitors the opportunity to explore the natural beauty and cultural heritage of northeastern Illinois while enjoying a variety of recreational activities. The trail’s connections to other paths and transportation options make it easy to access and a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages and interests.

7. Play disc golf at Lan-Oak Park:

5 min (1.3 miles)

Play disc golf at Lan-Oak Park
A Disc Golf Destination: The park offers a challenging 18-hole course that winds through scenic wooded areas. Players can enjoy the course for free and can bring their own discs or rent them from the park office. The course is well-designed to cater to players of all skill levels, with unique layouts and varying distances and obstacles.

Discover Events and Tournaments: The park hosts regular disc golf events and tournaments, such as the popular annual Lan-Oak Open. These events provide opportunities for players to compete and showcase their skills. Disc golf is a fun and challenging way to stay active and enjoy the natural beauty of Lan-Oak Park, whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out.

8. Attend the Annual Autumn Fest:

9 min (2.8 miles)

Annual Autumn Fest

The Annual Autumn Fest is one of the biggest events of the year in Lansing, IL. The festival is held in the month of September and lasts for two days. It is organized by the Lansing Chamber of Commerce and attracts visitors from all over the region. The festival has something for everyone, from food and drinks to entertainment and games.

Entertainment and Food: One of the highlights of the Autumn Fest is the live music, with local bands and musicians performing throughout the day. Festival-goers can enjoy a variety of genres while sipping a cold drink from the beer garden. The festival also features a wide variety of food vendors, offering classic festival fare like funnel cakes and corn dogs, as well as more exotic options like gyros and Korean barbecue. Visitors can also witness the chili cook-off, where local chefs compete to see who makes the best chili in town.

Family-Friendly Activities and Crafts: The Autumn Fest has plenty of activities to keep kids entertained, including carnival rides, face painting, and games like ring toss and duck pond. Kids can also participate in a pumpkin decorating contest to show off their creative skills. For adults, the festival has a craft fair, where local artisans and vendors sell handmade crafts, jewelry, and artwork. Visitors can browse the booths and find unique gifts or souvenirs to take home. The festival also hosts a car show, where classic cars and hot rods are on display for visitors to admire and talk with the owners about their vehicles.

9. Fishing at Centennial Park: A Serene Escape

15 min (6.0 miles)

Fishing at Centennial Park A Serene Escape

Fishing Paradise: Enjoying the Serenity: Centennial Park in Lansing, Illinois, is a 44-acre park that is home to a beautiful lake that provides an idyllic setting for fishing, boating, and relaxing. The park’s lake is stocked with fish, including largemouth bass, bluegill, and catfish, making it an ideal spot for anglers of all skill levels. Fishing enthusiasts can bring their gear and try their luck at catching a variety of fish, while nature lovers can enjoy the peaceful surroundings and observe the wildlife that calls the lake home. Visitors can also rent paddle boats, rowboats, and canoes from the park’s boathouse, allowing them to explore the lake and its surroundings from a different perspective.

Events and Amenities: A Fun-Filled Day : Centennial Park is not only a great place for fishing and boating but also offers several events and amenities throughout the year. Visitors can enjoy a summer concert series, featuring local musicians and bands performing in the park’s bandshell, or attend Lansing’s annual Fourth of July fireworks display, which draws visitors from across the region. The park’s playground area, picnic areas, and pavilion provide a great spot for family picnics, special events, or company picnics. The park’s large sports complex includes several baseball and softball fields, soccer fields, and tennis courts, and is well-maintained and frequently hosts local and regional tournaments. Finally, the park’s walking trail encircles the lake, providing a scenic route for exercise or relaxation. With its wide range of amenities and events, Centennial Park is the perfect destination for a fun-filled day out in Lansing.

10. Explore Lansing’s historic downtown:

Lansing’s historic downtown
Lansing has a charming downtown area with unique shops and restaurants to explore. Take a stroll down Ridge Road and see what you can discover. The Courtyard Shop, Vintage Crossings, Heritage Collectibles, The Coffee Cottage, The Book Market, One Trick Pony Brewery, and Aurelio’s Pizza.

One of the highlights of Lansing’s downtown area is Ridge Road, a picturesque street that serves as the heart of the community. As you take a leisurely stroll down Ridge Road, you’ll find yourself immersed in the town’s rich history and vibrant character. The street is lined with an array of charming shops, each offering its own distinct flair.

The Courtyard Shop is a delightful boutique that offers a carefully curated selection of home decor, gifts, and accessories. Whether you’re searching for a special trinket or a unique piece of artwork, this shop is a treasure trove of hidden gems.

Heritage Collectibles is another must-visit spot for antique lovers. This charming shop is known for its collection of vintage books, records, and other unique memorabilia. Lose yourself in the aisles, where you might stumble upon a rare edition or a beloved childhood favorite.

For those in need of a caffeine fix, The Coffee Cottage offers a cozy and inviting atmosphere to sit back and savor a cup of freshly brewed coffee or a delicious pastry. The friendly baristas will craft your favorite beverage with care, making it the perfect spot for a quick pick-me-up or a relaxed chat with friends.

Book your stay now and experience comfort and convenience
at Comfort Suites in Lansing, IL.

Don’t miss out on the chance to experience the beauty and charm of Lansing, Illinois! From outdoor adventures to delicious dining options, our list has something for everyone. And to make the most of your visit, don’t forget to book your stay at our hotel! Our comfortable rooms and convenient location make us the perfect home away from home for all your Lansing adventures. Book now and get ready for an unforgettable trip to Lansing, IL!