Ah, the good old days! Back when a person could sit outside the general store and sip on a soda pop without a worry as the world ambled by. It was a time when it was easy to make new friends of passers-by, and surely hear the juiciest gossip while you’re at it. “Did you hear about the pastries they’re serving over at the tea shop? Why, they’re so good they’ve got to be sinful!” The good old days of course are really just a state of mind, and one that can be readily obtained with a visit to Frankfort, Illinois.
Located among all the hustle-and-bustle of the greater Chicago area, Frankfort is a small village situated in what locals call the Chicago Southland. While horse-and-buggies are a thing of the past even here, Frankfort has made an effort to maintain an 1890s feel in its downtown area. Storefronts reflect the architecture of a hundred years ago, street lights resemble gas lamps and well-tended flower beds and hanging baskets burst with cheery color. And there really is a general store, full of gifts and souvenirs and a huge selection of old-timey candy; there’s even a bench outside the Frankfort General Store that’s the perfect perch for taffy eating and people watching. Right across the street you’ll find the Pickwick Society Tearoom where you can enjoy the full hot tea and sweets treatment in a cozy Little Women-themed setting, or just stop in for a quick iced tea and cupcake (better make it two or three…they’re mouth-watering!) Similar delights, although not all of them edible, await along Kansas Street, downtown Frankfort’s main drag, and the adjacent side streets. Among the dozens of shops are places like dollhouse and miniature specialist All Small, unique apparel shop Briosa Boutique, antiques and collectibles store Eclectic Attic, and for your four-legged friend there’s the whimsical Chew on This Dog Barkery.
Since Frankfort is located in the densely-populated Chicago Southland there are things here that you would normally find only in a big city, like Down Home Guitars. Down Home Guitars specializes in fine acoustic instruments and the shop is filled with beautifully-crafted guitars, ukuleles, mandolins, fiddles, banjos and upright basses. Musicians from all over the Midwest flock to Down Home Guitars (sometimes they play some music there too) but owner Steve Haberichter welcomes those who just want to gawk at the dazzling display too. Steve is also Frankfort’s go-to guy when it comes to live music; he promotes shows during the summer and can generally tell you where to hear live music in the area on any given day.
For the scoop on more fun things to do in Frankfort, visit the Village of Frankfort website.
Frankfort is just one of many attractions located in the Chicago Southland; train lovers will enjoy the Pullman State Historic Site where the famous Pullman rail cars were once built, the Homewood Rail Park where there’s a train-viewing platform and the Park Forest Railfan Park with its unique view of a rare “double wye” junction. And at Flossmoor Station Restaurant & Brewery railfans can see a refurbished old caboose (now used to serve ice cream treats) while sampling some of the best microbrew in Illinois.
For more information visit the Chicago Southland Visitor’s Bureau website.