While Brookfield might not be as popular of an area as its neighbor Chicago, this western suburb has it’s own brand of local charm. If you’ve already been to Chicago’s iconic tourist spots like Navy Pier or the Field Museum of Natural History and want a more local Chicago area experience, we have a lot more attractions and activities than you might expect. Not only is Brookfield a fun place to visit, it’s also an active community to live in. Here are 10 of our favorite things to do in Brookfield, IL, carefully selected to show you what this community has to offer.
1. Hang Out at the Brookfield Zoo
Brookfield Zoo is the headquarters of the Chicago Zoological Society and has rightfully earned it’s place as the one of the top things to do in Brookfield, IL. You can arrive by parking in the main lot at 8400 31st St. or take the Metra train that stops at the Hollywood station, also known as the Zoo Stop. Among the many Zoo activities offered here some highlights include the dolphin show and taking your kids to meet and feed parakeets, goats, and a variety of other animals.
The zoo is home to over 2,000 animals, with everything from meerkats, big cats, primates, a wide variety of reptiles and birds, and more. The zoo offers a variety of events, including an annual beer tasting event, charity run for animal care and, for your little ones, Boo! at the Zoo to celebrate Halloween. If you settle down in Brookfield, you can get membership at various levels, all of which include free admission and parking. They also have educational programs for children and adults.
2. Play at the Galloping Ghost Arcade
Yes, it’s 2021, but retro gaming is still going strong and it’s one of our favorite things to do in Brookfield, IL. The Galloping Ghost Arcade on Ogden Ave. is the largest video arcade in the US, with over 550+ games. After paying just a $20 fee at the door, you can play as many games as you want all day. The arcade holds events and tournaments and stores all of your scores and records. If you’re a hardcore gamer, you can get a weekly, monthly, yearly, or lifetime membership.
From classics like Donkey Kong, rare titles, and modern titles (including ones they’ve designed themselves), the arcade is a place for gamers to meet, have a community, and compete against each other.
3. Play Ball
The Chicago area is known for its baseball, and our kids have a lot of fun playing the game, as do more than a few adults. The area has successfully carried on this tradition, which is why playing ball made it onto our list of favorite things to do in Brookfield, IL.
With 2 large park systems (Kiwanis and Elhert) baseball and softball programs facilitated by the Brookfield Little League, reign supreme for kids aged 4 through 12. Or if you’re going for a more casual approach, just go on over to one of the many fields with a bat and ball and have some fun.
4. Enjoy A Good Burger or Brew
Chicago has deep dish pizza, while Brookfield has its own selection of great places to eat. Here are three of our favorites:
- Burger Antics. A classic burger joint which sells, you guessed it, burgers. You can build your own burger or go with one of their preset items, which include the Midland with cheddar and onion, the Black ‘n Blue with Cajun spice and blue cheese or, of course, a four cheese burger. All of them are available with a 9oz steak burger, char grilled chicken breast, or black bean and rice patty. They also have appetizers, desserts and a variety of brews (and craft sodas if you’re driving).
- Irish Times. Our favorite Irish pub, selling everything from traditional Irish fare such as Guinness stew or shepherd’s pie, to burgers and tacos with beers on tap or cider, if you prefer. They also sell family meals for delivery, with a variety of entrees available in quantities for everyone.
- Beach Ave BBQ started as two neighbors barbecuing. They’re relatively new, but they are already taking Brookfield by storm. They do catering, dine in and delivery. Choose your meat…wagyu beef biscuit, pulled pro, pulled chicken and, of course, your favorite ribs. Add a side and follow it up with their lovely desserts. They are open until sold out, so get there early!
5. Hop on the Metra
One advantage of living in Brookfield is the close proximity to public transportation. Brookfield has three Metra stops (Congress Park, Hollywood and Brookfield) on the BNSF railway line that leads from Aurora to Union Station, giving direct access to downtown Chicago and the loop. You can go shop on Michigan Avenue, or go to the lakefront to admire the view and play. It’s only twenty minutes from Congress Park to Union Station, so it’s easy to enjoy the big city, then come back home to somewhere a bit quieter. It’s also a convenient way to access other suburbs like La Grange, Riverside, Berwyn, etc.
6. Wake Up to a Proper Breakfast
Yes, getting breakfast is one of our favorite things to do in Brookfield, IL. Not just because it’s the most important meal of the day, but because Brookfield does breakfast right. Check out some breakfast places that will encourage you to get out of bed in the morning. Our favorite breakfast joints are:
- Mary’s Morning Mixup. Sometimes there’s a wait, but it always worth it. This is an ideal kid friendly place for breakfast or early lunch, with a varied menu. Flat bread? Donuts? French toast? Your favorite juice? Basically every breakfast offering you could want, but what they’re best known for are their hearty breakfast skillets. You might not need lunch.
- Tony’s Family Restaurant & Breakfast Cafe. Open all day, and yes, that means breakfast all day. This is a great place to get Eggs Benedict of all kinds, as well as skillets and omelettes. If it involves eggs, Tony’s has it. Or go for something lighter, like a pancake or crepe. Locals love the coffee, the service, and the portions. Tony’s also has the advantage of being close to the zoo, so it’s a great place to fuel up before you go spend the day exploring the animal kingdom.
7. Hike or Bike the Salt Creek Trail System
Under the auspices of the Forest Preserves of Cook County, the Salt Creek Trail System runs along the Des Plaines River, by the zoo, as well as the Salt Creek that it’s named after. If you enjoy the outdoors, this trail system should be a priority on your list of things to do in Brookfield, IL. The trails run from the Meadowlark Golf Course and the Wolf Road Prairie Nature Preserve ( that is also well worth checking out) to the zoo, and then south from the zoo to the Chicago Portage National Historic Site. The trail system is perfect for biking, walking, and jogging and run through idyllic forest preserve areas.
Recommended hikes range from 1.5 miles to 14 miles plus, connecting to the Grand Illinois Trail. In the winter, the trails are groomed for cross-country skiing.
8. Read Your Way Through the New Library
Although it might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Brookfield attractions, the village now has a completely new library that’s worth a visit. The new Linda Sokol Francis Brookfield Library is complete, although the new park and parking lot are still under construction (as of August 2021). You can borrow both physical and electronic books, or check out their weekly live readings when a librarian picks a book they’re excited about.
The library has all kinds of events including a writing group, education events for all ages, book clubs and crafting. You can even “check out” a librarian for 30 minutes to help you with library services or finding what you need in the database. Everyone needs a good book every now and then, and the digital, 24/7 collection can help you find an instant read.
9. Take A Dive…Bar That Is
For the over 21 crowd, one of the best fun things to do in Brookfield, IL is check out the local bars. We have two we’re particularly fond of and both of them are great places to hang out on a Saturday night.
- The Cordial Inn. It’s friendly staff and live music will draw you in, and you’ll stay for the burgers and craft beer. Multiple TVs will help you catch the game of the moment or whatever else you might want to watch. They’ll change the channel to what the regulars want. There’s video poker, not to mention a tank full of fish to really let the atmosphere sink in.
- Ryan’s Public House. This is a proper pub, in the true Irish tradition, as opposed to a restaurant that sells good beer. Both have their place, but Ryan’s will give you hand-crafted cocktails, a wide variety of beers and above all, whiskey. Not just the standard Jameson and Bushmills, either. There’s plenty of food, including classic fish and chips. Even late at night you can get bar snacks including onion rings and mac and cheese wedges.
Both are fun places to hang out and once you’ve been there a while, the barkeep will know your order and the regular crowd will know your name.
10. Take in an Outdoor Concert
Brookfield has a number of fun outdoor activities, especially in the summers when Kiwanis Park hosts a live concert at the band shell every Friday. The park has a playground, snack shack for drinks and hot dogs, and is right off of Salt Creek.
Take some time to relax and listen to live music that varies from week to week, but are always excellent and are accompanied by an authentic live music atmosphere.
Looking for a Home in Brookfield?
Brookfield isn’t just a suburb, it’s a unique village with its own attractions, awesome eats and drinks, and plenty to do. Most people who come here come for the zoo, but it’s also a great place to live. With a twenty minute train ride to downtown Chicago, commute to work in the city is easy, offering a balance of a great location with a nice, quiet, small town feel. If you are considering living in Brookfield, contact Scout Real Estate Partners. We can help you start your home buying process today.