Home Alone: A Beloved Christmas Classic Made in Illinois

Home Alone is a beloved Christmas classic that many of us enjoy watching with family year after year. The John Hughes film, which follows the shenanigans of Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin), accidentally left behind as his family jets off to Paris for the holidays, as he single-handedly takes on the “Wet Bandits” – Marv (Daniel Stern) and Harry (Joe Pesci) – and thwarts their plans to rob the McCallister home while the family is away. Just about every Illinoisan is familiar with the iconic McCallister house in Winnetka, but most of the scenes were also filmed at locations around the Chicago area.

Although the McCallister house is a real home on Lincoln Avenue in Winnetka and boasts 5,398 square feet of living space between its ten bedrooms and six bathrooms, it was still far too small to fit all the necessary crew and filming equipment for the movie. Subsequently, most of the indoor scenes were actually filmed on sets built at the old New Trier West High School in Northfield.

Just like the well-known nature of the Winnetka home, anyone who has flown in or out of Chicago will likely recognize Terminal C at O’Hare Airport. Not only was the scene of the family rushing through the airport filmed at O’Hare, but so too were the scenes of the family (minus Kevin) landing in Paris and Kevin’s parents, Kate (Catherine O’Hara) and Peter (John Heard), frantically trying to get a flight back home after realizing Kevin was left behind.

When Kevin, at this point perfectly happy to be home alone, decides he needs a new toothbrush, he sets out walking and notices an unfamiliar van parked in the neighboring Murphy’s driveway. The Murphy’s home is another real house on Lincoln Avenue in Winnetka.

When Kevin bolts from the pharmacy before paying for his toothbrush because he was scared of coming face-to-face with “Old Man” Marley, he was actually at Graeter’s Ice Cream on Green Bay Road in Winnetka. As Kevin runs from the police, he goes straight through Hubbard Woods Park and the nearby Metra station in Winnetka.

Later, as Kevin goes grocery shopping, he visits another stop on Green Bay Road in Winnetka, the Grand Food Center. It’s still open today, but the original A&P store has been remodeled since the movie was released in 1990.

The Church Kevin runs to when evading the Wet Bandits is Trinity United Methodist Church of Wilmette. Scenes were filmed outside, while inside scenes were actually filmed at another church in Oak Park, where Kevin later meets “Old Man” Marley at the church and realizes he’s not so scary after all.

When Kevin’s mother, Kate, who is frantic to get back home to her child, ends up in Scranton, Pennsylvania, she’s actually at Chicago’s little-known and now-closed Meigs Field. It’s there that Kate meets the lovable Gus Polinski (John Candy), who offers her a ride with his polka band in a rental truck. Meigs Field has since been turned into a visitor center.

Kevin is back in Winnetka when he visits Santa Claus’ shack and asks Santa to bring his family home. Santa’s shack is on Chestnut Court Park near Winnetka Village Hall.

Although Home Alone is a comedy classic made by Macaulay Culkin’s character turning his family home into a labyrinth of booby traps as he fends off the hilarious antics of the Wet Bands, it ends with a reminder of how important it is to put squabbles aside and appreciate time with family during the holidays.

May you and your family have a very merry Christmas!

Sources and photos for this article: IMDB, Chicago Tribune, House Beautiful