A Day at Balmoral Park, Part 2

We can’t contain our excitement anymore about the new horse show facilities at Balmoral Park and we’re ready to answer your questions about the first horseshow of its kind in the Midwest.

Yesterday, we gave you the inside scoop on the upcoming horseshows in Crete, Illinois. Today, we’ll tell you about the second half of our day, which we spent exploring the town of Crete, and beyond, finding out what residents do for fun. (Spoiler: There are too many options to choose just one.)

We grabbed a barbeque lunch at Smokey Jo’s Real Pit BBQ & Old Town Tap, a bar and grill with excellent barbeque and Mexican selections that hosts live music and karaoke weekly.

It’s not the only place to relax in town. Small but bustling, Crete is packed with things to do. Crete is home to five bars, ranging from craft brewery to upscale dining. Try Evil Horse Brewing Company, housed in a converted bowling alley where beer is named after riding tack or famous horses that ran at Balmoral Park. Or relax in luxury at Crete’s Tavern on the Green Restaurant, where oysters feature prominently on the happy hour menu.

Source: Evil Horse Brewing Company

The town of Crete has a rich history, founded by farmers and grounded in the history of horsemanship. In fact, Main Street was originally called Hubbard’s Trail after Gurdon Hubbard, who used ponies to deliver furs between Indiana and Chicago. Then, horse-drawn wagons began using the trail and it eventually grew into a major thoroughfare running through the farmland just outside Chicago. The residents of Crete are either descended from original settlers or consider themselves “modern pioneers,” seeking a getaway from the nearby city, still just a brief and easy train ride or drive away.

Embedded map:


After lunch, we returned to Balmoral Park – directly across the street is Balmoral Woods Country Club, rated as one of the best Chicagoland Public Golf facilities. The demanding course is breathtaking and unique, laid out over 280 acres of wooded, rolling hills, some of which are part of the forest preserve. Its 72.6 rated, 133 slope layout is challenging but magnificent and we were lucky enough to get a tour from two generations of Mortell family patriarchs, who both own and designed the golf course.

We joked that the golf course was so stunning that it would keep the family and friends of riders happy for weeks on end and as the tour continued it dawned on us how true that was. Perfectly located, all we would have to do is cross the road to play a few holes between trips to the ring – we quickly realized how perfectly the two properties complemented each other.

After a leisurely snack at the golf course, we reluctantly returned to our rental car and drove back to O’Hare for a 6pm flight home. The commute was simple and uncomplicated and we made it back to the airport in record time, evidence that Chicago was as accessible as everyone had claimed. We boarded our flight more excited than ever about HITS expanding to the Midwest.

For five more reasons we're excited about the new HITS shows, click here.