PATCH PASSPORT: Niles Offers Leaning Tower, Gold Pyramid, Historic Golf Course, Ethnic Eats
Our weekly series will list something for you to do all summer.
If seeing the Leaning Tower of Pisa gives you a sudden craving for eating pasta and drinking espresso, not to worry--Niles has plenty of Italian restaurants to satisfy those whims.
Staycationers and tourists, the Leaning Tower is a must for your mini-vacation here, but there's plenty else for all ages. Here's your tourist guide to Niles, which borders Chicago's north side.
Take your car or the Niles Free Bus to the Leaning Tower YMCA, 6300 W. Touhy, and leisurely stroll (remember, we're in Italy here; everything is leisurely!) over to the tower, a half-sized replica of the Pisa original. You can't go inside, but it's still fun to pose for photos, linger on the piazza and perhaps get an ice cream across the street and pretend it's gelato.
A businessman named Robert Ilg built the tower in 1934, to disguise a water tower he needed for a swimming pools he built on the property. He used to bring his employees out from Chicago for a day in the country.
Check out these other Niles attractions, too.
The Gold Pyramid at the destination Korean Spa
Unless you're been to Korea, you've never seen the kind of lavishness and ornate decor that goes into a Korean spa. Families come from all over the Midwest to go to the enormous King Spa and Sauna, 801 Civic Center Drive (Oakton and Waukegan Road), Niles, for entire days to let go of tension in the hot-water pool, or the series of saunas, including the gold pyramid sauna, which contains real gold. You can also watch movies in the theater, eat Korean dishes in the food court, relax in the fancily-decorated lounge or sleep--even overnight--on mats in the sleeping room. Massages are available for an extra fee.
How Tam Made Golf History
The first golf tournament on TV was televised from Niles' Tam O'Shanter Golf course, in 1953. Many greats, such as Arnold Palmer and Babe Zaharias, strolled these greens. You can play nine holes on the historic course, then get refreshed with a drink on the deck of the adjoining Howard Street Inn.
Batter Up and Mini Golf, Too
Pioneer Park, at the southeast corner of Touhy and Harlem Avenues, offers mini golf, batting cages, a concession stand and an eating area, all in a cheerful, well-landscaped area. You might catch a Little League game on the baseball fields, too.
Korean Mega-Plazas and Live Fish
The free samples and the pan-Asian food court at Assi Plaza, 8901 N. Milwaukee Ave., Niles, are nice, but head to the fish section and watch the live crabs and the lobsters swimming in tanks. Kids will be fascinated--or repelled. Or both. The plaza also offers Korean clothing and shoe boutiques. Super H Mart, at the southeast corner of Waukegan Road and Oakton Street, offers a similar experience, with not quite as many live fish but a whole section devoted to kim chee.
Polish-Americans flocked to St. Adalbert's cemetery, 6800 N. Milwaukee Ave., Niles, in April 2010 after a tragedy in Polish history eerily repeated itself. During World War II, the Russians massacred the upper echelon of Poland's leaders in order to weaken the country. Last year, a plane carrying Polish president Lech Kacynski and 96 other top Polish leaders to Katyn, Russia for the massacre's 70th anniversary crashed, leaving Poles everywhere stunned and saddened.
Last year's mourners gathers at Niles' striking monument, visible while driving down Milwaukee Avenue. It's a tall, modernistic gray granite angel, with wings outstretched.
If you need a pair of jeans, some shoes or a place to change a diaper, head to Golf Mill Shopping Center, at Golf Road and Milwaukee Ave., Niles. It's anchored by J.C. Penney, Sears, Kohl's and Target and offers a movie theater.
If you're serious about horse racing, place your bets at Lucky Magee's Racing Grill and Sports Lounge, an off track betting parlor at 9215 N. Greenwood, Niles, on the Golf Mill Shopping Center campus. You can have a drink out front, or head to the back room to watch the video monitors broadcasting races around the country and place your wagers.
Where to Eat
- Nepali and Indian: Find flavor and spice at Himalayan Restaurant, 8265 W. Golf Road, Niles, in Four Flaggs Plaza.
- Polish: White Eagle, 6839 N. Milwaukee Ave., Niles. This banquet hall also features a restaurant and gift shop.
- Italian: Graziano's, 5960 W. Touhy, Niles, has pizza from a wood-fired oven.
- Greek: Try the outdoor patio at Mykonos, 8660 W. Golf Road, Niles, in summer, or the indoor setting at Kalyva, 8801 N. Milwaukee Ave., Niles, all year round.
- Ice Cream: Ever had jackfruit, purple yam or halo halo fiesta ice cream? A Filipino family makes these tropical flavors and more at Village Creamery, at Oakton Street and Waukegan Road, Niles.
What To Buy:
No trip is complete without a souvenir! In Niles, some souvenirs are of the edible variety.
- Italian beef and prosciutto at Minelli's Deli, a family-run specialty Italian grocer, Oak Mill Mall, 7900 N. Milwaukee Ave. (Oakton and Milwaukee Avenues), Niles.
- German sausages at Schmeisser's Delicatessen, 7649 N. Milwaukee Ave., Niles, also a lovingly-run family operation.
- Collectibles of all kinds at European Imports, Oak Mill Mall, 7900 N. Milwaukee Ave., (Oakton and Milwaukee Avenues), Niles.
- Sheepskin slippers, coats, boots, steering wheel covers and nose warmers (OK, just kidding about the nose warmers, but they do seem to make sheepskin everything) at Sheepskin Depot, 7507 N. Waukegan Road, Niles.
- Polish pastries at Oak Mill Bakery, 8012 N. Milwaukee Ave., Niles. If you need a babka for babcia, they've got it-and kolaczki, cookies and artistically-decorated cakes.
- Baklava and chocolate mousse birthday cakes at Papagalino Bakery, 9012 N. Milwaukee Ave., Niles. They have a full selection of Greek pastries and creamy birthday cakes.
- Greek Food Festival, July 15-17, 7373 N. Caldwell Ave., Niles IL. Greek food, music, dancing, kids' corner, cooking classes. Admission $2 after 5 p.m.