Our guest contributor this week is Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian.  This column originally appeared in the March 2016 issue of the Hoffman Estates Citizen, the village’s newsletter.  The column appears here, courtesy of the Village of Hoffman Estates.

There were so many fun things to do for children growing up in Hoffman Estates in the early years of the village.

With so much construction going on in the neighborhoods, starting in 1955 and continuing into the 70’s, there were always those wonderful piles of dirt the seemed to draw the kids like magnets.  But our early town had so many fun places to go to.

During the cold days of winter everyone could go ice skating on their local pond.  Some had warming houses to help take the frost from their frozen feet.  If you had enough guys, you could get a hockey game going.  With enough snow on the ground, you could head over to Fleetwing Farm on Central Rd. and go tubing with your friends.

Hoffman LanesHoffman Lanes bowling alley was a busy place for both adults and children.  The adult bowling leagues were filled with moms & dads who enjoyed the competition & the opportunity to meet others.   Saturday afternoons found the kids really getting into their own bowling competitions.

When the Thunderbird Movie Theater opened in the Golf Rose Shopping Center in the early 60’s, the kids headed to the Sunday matinees and gave their parents a few hours of peace and quiet.  Snyder Drugs was right next door to the theater and a great place to buy your candy.

A favorite eating place that the kids really enjoyed was Ground Round on Golf Rd.  Where else could you eat all those peanuts and not get scolded for throwing the shells on the floor?  The burgers were awesome as I remember.  Lum’s Hot Dogs on Golf Rd. was another great place.  Everyone liked the idea that the dogs were steamed in beer.  They tasted great.

In the 70s the hang out that Hoffman High kids liked was Barrington Square.  You could see a dollar movie at the Barrington Square Movie Theater, stop in for a slice of pizza at Garabaldi’s Restaurant and check out the latest albums at Flip Side.  Lines would form outside Flip Side for tickets to the hottest concerts.  A great hang out for the Conant kids was Hippo’s Hot Dogs on Higgins and Plum Grove Roads. They had the best Chicago style hot dog around. Hippos

Fireside_ArenaFireside Roller Rink on Roselle & Higgins, the world’s largest indoor rink, was one of the most popular places in town.  The local schools always had skating parties throughout the year. You never missed one.  They were a blast.

As the kids grew older, they were treated to more great entertainment at the Poplar Creek Music Theater.  In the 80s the 20,000 seat open air theater offered great performances by the most popular entertainers of the day.  Located at Route 59 and the Tollway, the theater is fondly remembered by everyone who enjoyed the music under the stars.

It is all gone except Garabaldi’s Restaraunt.  It’s fun to remember those days.  What do you remember?

Pat Barch
Hoffman Estates Village Historian


  1. Linda Hinkle Says:

    Catching caterpillers and keeping them in old tin coffee cans.

    Oh, and the old sledding hill by Churchill school!!

    There was some dirt hill somewhere behind Churchill that my sister and I called “the trails”. Boys would ride their dirt bikes and do “tricks”.

  2. Susie Rose Says:

    Could not of said it better . dont forget the Goveners Square Christmas stuff.. at the club house , and the kids walking around with boom boxes … and not to mention The old Carnivals in Barrington Square with the dunk tanks , I was put in right after I had my tonsils taken out…. so I could not yelll… Ohh good memories !

  3. John Porcellino Says:

    When we moved to the area in 1979, there was still so much nature. We spent our time out in the woods and fields along Moon Lake Road, out where the hospital is now, and along Old Higgins Road, the abandoned stretch of asphalt that ran alongside Rte 72. So many good memories!

  4. Karen Says:

    I remember going to Jack in the box on Roselle Road after a party! Loved those greasey tacos!

  5. Steve Procopus Says:

    My favorite thing was the Fourth Of July celebrations on Illinois Blvd. and the activities and fireworks at Chino Park.

  6. Donna Lichtfuss Says:

    My brother and I would walk up to the bakery next to Grants on Sunday mornings to get donuts (60’s). Also loved the diner in Grants for milk shakes and fries. Thunderbird Theater was a hug deal back then. Many of us had our first kisses in there.

  7. Tom Whittle Says:

    In summer, before there was a Hippo’s or even a Burger King (early ’60s), you could ride your Schwinn to the new public swimming pool near Bode Rd. and then to the new Dog n’ Suds where you could get a soft serve cone for .10 cents, or if you were flush with cash, a dip cone for .15 cents. My buddy’s dad worked at the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Joliet and there was always lots of free pop at their house. Across the street, my other buddy shared his new “Slip ‘n Slide” water toy with all the kids in the neighborhood.

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