Franklin Park is a village in the Chicagoland area, near O'Hare International Airport. Incorporated in 1892, the town is steeped in train culture; it's served by three Metra stations, has a large train yard, and celebrates its history with a train museum and festival. In addition, there is a a burgeoning suburban downtown, a large Hispanic population (which means great food), and many community gathering places.
Grand Avenue and Mannheim Road are two major arteries that run through the village. O'Hare International Airport is nearby, accessible by Mannheim Road. Franklin Park has three Metra stations: Belmont Avenue Station on Metra's North Central Service, which provides daily rail service between Antioch, Illinois and Chicago (at Union Station); and Franklin Park Station and Mannheim Station on the Milwaukee District/West Line which connects Chicago to Elgin, Illinois.
By car is the most efficient way, but PACE bus routes 319 and 325 run through Franklin Park and connect it to nearby Northlake, River Grove, Elmwood Park, and Rosemont.
- Downtown Franklin Park has been put on a construction hold, many businesses having been uprooted with nothing to replace them. However, it's a pleasant stroll through local restaurants, new condominiums, and delicious Mexican markets and bakeries.
- B-12 Tower Museum is right next to the Post Office downtown. It's an over 100 year old restored track-switching tower, open every year in May for the local festival "Railroad Daze" (although you can peek inside any time of year). Nearby is an orange caboose that makes for nice photos.
- Veteran's Memorial, 9500 Belmont Ave., . is a pleasant park dedicated in honor of any Franklin Parker who fought in a war (and there's a surprising amount). The cannon on site is a must-see. Across the street is the police station with the old-fashioned star sign and a park with a gazebo where bands play in the summer. edit
- The Fire Museum, also downtown, is a small affair, but for fire engine buffs there is a Peter Pirsch engine purchased in 1927 on display. Everything is viewable through the window from the outside.
- The Franklin Park Public Library has a 1909 first edition of Daniel Burnham's Plan of Chicago, . viewable by appointment. edit
Be prepared for a long wait
- Railroad Daze is an annual festival held downtown every May or June. Attractions include walk-on special and unique train displays, a wide variety of food vendors, a carnival, mini-train rides, a model train display and live music.
- The Street Dance & Car Show takes place every July downtown. Area bands come and play as local businesses and restaurants set up stands and all kinds of cars are shown off, with trophies awarded.
- The Franklin Park Ice Arena is a great place to cool off in the summer, with a freestyle skating rink and a larger, hocky-oriented main arena.
- The Pool on Pacific is small but recently renovated, while Gouin Park Pool is larger but a bit more out of the way.
Franklin Park is not exactly known as a shopping mecca. Besides Ace Hardware, all the big name stores and malls are in the nearby towns, while locally there isn't much more than a pawn shop, video stores, and grocery stores, all of which are on Grand Avenue.
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Food is Franklin Park's hidden gem. Grand Stand Pizza, 9718 Grand Ave., . was voted the best thin crust pizza by Fox Chicago in 2005, and it shows. Ordering a slice is good, but it's the whole pizzas that will win over your taste buds. Any Mexican Bakery downtown, on Franklin Avenue, will have huge, cheap treats that you probably won't find in your local bakery. They can be hit or miss, but if you don't like what you bought then spend 75 cents for something else. There's plenty of Mexican restaurants around, including Tacqueria La Tarreta on Grand and Scott, and Mr. Taco further down Grand (although it's name is likely to change within the next month). Frank's Chicago Shrimp, also downtown, will satisfy any breaded seafood need, and the hush puppies steal the show. China Gate downtown and Leu's Oriental Chop Suey on Grand Avenue are both cheap and delicious. On Grand and 25th is the all-American Odie's, a local icon. On Mannheim south of Grand Avenue is the Steak 'n Egger, a cute 24-hour diner, while down the street is the yummy and greasy Squab Gyros. edit
The police station and water tower
- Mike O'Donnell Pub, downtown, is a typical Irish-style pub.
- Sneakers Sports Bar and Grill is on Grand Avenue, as is..
- Buddy's Sports Bar Pizzeria
- Temptations, on Grand Avenue in the mall with Jewel and the library, is a predominantly lesbian dance club
Most hotels and motels are on Mannheim Avenue, servicing airport patrons. Super 8, Comfort Inn, Sottrel Hotel; pretty much drive down Mannheim and look for something with O'Hare in the name.
|Routes through Franklin Park
- Chicago, of course.
- Rosemont, north of Franklin Park, is chock full of convention centers and major Chicagoland events often take place here, including ACen. Rosemont is also home to the Chicago Wolves hockey team. Oh, and there's a Blue Line stop.
- Oak Park, home of Frank Lloyd Wright, is a 25 minute drive south.
- River Grove has a forest preserve, golf course, Triton College, and Gene's & Jude's, the best Chicago-stlye hot dogs around (unless you love Portillo's, in which case head to Northlake).
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