This city was the largest commercial and residential hub in the southern part of Cook County in the early 20th Century.
Blue Island is located just 15 minutes from downtown Chicago and boasts beautiful architecture that dates back over a century.
Shop locally in the downtown, where you will find many small independent businesses. These include restaurants, bars, and unique shops.
Blue Island, located in the middle of Chicago, is connected to the Chicago Southland communities via the 26-mile Cal-Sag Trail.
1. Downtown Blue Island
Blue Island’s commercial heart is infused with 150 years of history. There are many locally-owned businesses along Western Avenue and the old section that runs south of the Cal-Sag Channel.
These include Chicago-style restaurants, craft breweries, antiques centers, bakeries and florists.
Western Avenue was an early part of the Dixie Highway that connected Chicago and Miami at the dawn of automobile transportation.
Blue Island’s history is fascinating. You can download a list with 74 landmarks from the website. Then, you can set off on a self guided tour of these beautiful old commercial and residential properties.
2. Memorial Park (Blue Island Park District).
Blue Island Park District’s most popular park is located just north of downtown. It has an entrance controlled by a LTV A-7 Corsair II Light Attack aircraft.
Memorial Park is surrounded by residential streets and has a pool (more on that later), a splashpad, picnic shelter, skate park as well as two baseball diamonds.
You can find a nice network of paved paths running down the park’s east-side, which is especially beautiful in fall, when the leaves change colors.
Memorial Park remains a family favorite for its toboggan slide and sledding hill in winter.
3. Cal-Sag Trail
Blue Island was connected to a trail that runs through Chicago Southland from Lemont, Illinois, to the Chicago Lakefront, Indiana border, when we compiled this list.
The Cal-Sag Trail will soon be 26 miles long, with new sections opening every few month. It follows the Cal-Sag Channel’s banks.
The long, completed stretch runs through Blue Island, crossing at Division Street and then running through downtown on Vermont Street.
The trail merges at Lemont with another long-distance route on the Illinois and Michigan Canal Trail.
4. Blue Island Beer Company
A thriving craft brewery is located on the historic Old Western Avenue south of downtown Blue Island. They have 12 different beers available to you.
Blue Island Beer Company is reviving a long tradition of brewing in the city. They have a strong foundation in classic styles of beer and use that knowledge to create new, surprising creations.
At the time of writing, the taproom was pouring a Pilsner, a Hazy IPA, an American IPA, a pre-Prohibition-style Amber Ale, an Imperial Milk Stout and a German-style Kolsch Ale, to list a small handful.
You can fill growlers or buy bottles or cans to go. Blue Island Beer Company also has a delivery arrangement with Natural Law bar & grill. You can also bring food from any of Blue Island’s great restaurants.
5. The Park at York & Western
You’ll find a small pocket park right in the heart of Blue Island with benches, picnic tables, and a pavilion.
This is a great place to enjoy a picnic in summer, close to T & G Gyros and Iversen’s Bakery.
Blue Island’s Farmers’ Market takes place on Mondays from mid-June to September at the Park at York & Western. It sells farm-fresh seasonal produce.
An information board explains the fascinating history of Dixie Highway on the Western Avenue side.
6. Carnival & St. Donatus Feast
The Church of St. Donatus has been hosting a lively five day festival every August since more than 110 years. It celebrates the feast of its namesake saint.
This is one the best church festivals in Chicago, and it is well-known for its delicious food.
You can find Italian beef and sausage, wings, wings, clams and delicious pizza.
There is usually a procession every Sunday. Also, carnival rides, games and bingo are all part of the event.
7. Three Sisters Antique Mall
The Woolworth Building is one of the most prominent structures in downtown. It dates back to 1918, during Blue Island’s peak. It has Spanish Revival-style mouldings and a frieze.
From 1993 to 1993, Woolworth’s was on the first floor. The Blue Island Elks and Blue Island Specialty Company (est. 1898, a well-known manufacturer of dental equipment.
The building houses a multi-dealer antiques store, which is regarded as one of the finest in Chicago Southland.
You can shop furniture, vintage toys and books here.
8. Whistler Woods Preserve
A beautiful patch of wooded land, with mature oaks up to 300 years of age, is located on the Little Calumet River’s south bank. It is east of Blue Island.
Two picnic groves are located at Whistler Woods Forest Preserve. This riverside habitat offers many opportunities for birding.
You can also access the Major Taylor Tail, a 7.6-mile multiuse rail trail that runs through the area. It is named after Marshall Walter Taylor (1878-1932), a record-breaking African American procyclist.
This path runs through Chicago’s southwest side as far as Dan Ryan Woods.
9. Eagle’s Bowling Lanes
Another magnificent building downtown is the lodge for Blue Island Chapter of the Fraternal Order of Eagles. It was established in 1906.
The inside is a friendly and intimate bowling alley that’s perfect for playing with friends. There are six lanes, each with a bar for adults, as an alternative to the crowded and faceless alleys.
The prices for drinks, snacks, and bites (pizzas, popcorn, etc.) are very affordable. Weekends also bring a lot of people to the alley.
10. Hart Park
The park is located in the north end of Blue Island and features one of the most popular softball/baseball stadiums in Chicago Southland. It hosts tournaments, men’s and ladies’ league games, and programs such as the White Sox Amateur City Elite.
The stadium was built by the City Blue Island in 1939. It was later purchased by the Blue Island Park District and named in honor of a mayor by them in 1963.
A concession stand is located here. There’s also a play area for children and a concrete recreation zone. This is where you will find the Blue Island Ice Rink in winter.
11. The Meadows Golf Club
Blue Island’s northwest shoulder has a large green area, which is covered by parks, cemeteries, and other sports facilities, such as this public golf course.
The Meadows Golf Club opened in 1994 and measures 6,549 yards from the tips. The course is on gently undulating terrain and has a slope rating 121. It’s a great place to start the sport if youre a beginner.
The rates are very reasonable especially in the Chicago area. They were below $40 at the time we wrote this article. If you want to practice before your round, there is a driving range available at the course.
12. T & G Gyros
You don’t need to look far if you want Chicago-style comfort foods. There’s an independent place downtown at South Western Avenue.
T & G Gyros has been around for many decades and is a trusted source of regional favorites such as gyros, Polish sausage, Italian beef, combos, hot dogs, and Polish sausage.
The Big Baby double cheeseburger is perhaps the most well-known specialty. It can be customized to your liking.
You can also find rib-eye steaks, fish sandwiches and spicy wings on the menu.
13. The Game, Hollywood Park
The Rivercrest Shopping Center, a traditional family entertainment center that packs a variety of indoor and outdoor attractions into one location is located close by.
In the Game has been remodeled and now offers minigolf, mini-bowling, indoor bumper cars, arcades, ropes courses for children, Typhoon motion simulators, virtual reality games, a giant slider, and a children’s rollercoaster.
In the Game restaurant only serves Animal Welfare Approved Products, which are free from hormones and antibiotics. There’s also a flowing selection of craft beers and fancy cocktails.
14. Memorial Park Pool
This Memorial Park public outdoor swimming pool is a great way to beat summer heat.
This large pool has three distinct areas: lap swimming, wading/leisure and diving at the deep end.
This is a great place to swim. The park district recently announced improvements.
The pool is available from 12 to 5 pm and 6 to 8:30 pm. For a small fee, parents with children can rent sunloungers.
15. Centennial Park
This park is located east of Blue Island and dates back to 1936. It runs roughly parallel to I-57. However, you would not know it is there because it is behind a buffer of residential homes and trees.
Centennial Park, a place for active recreation, is home to four softball/baseball diamonds.
This is a wonderful place to bring your children. There’s a large, fenced play area in the southwest corner. You can also find a picnic shelter nearby. All this under the shade of tall, old trees.
The park has a walking trail that runs through it. It was repaved in recent years.