Written by Bridgette Outten
Illinois is home to many historic sites and museums, where you can learn something about the past and have a bit of fun, too. If your goal is to educate the family without them really knowing it, here are a few suggestions near the Chicagoland area. And as an added bonus, you can get to all these destination on one tank of gas (or less).
2430 N. Cannon Dr.
Chicago, IL 60614
Why Go? The museum features a butterfly haven home to more than 75 species of exotic butterflies.
Insider Tip: Thursdays are suggested donation days for Illinois residents.
Must Do: No matter what the weather is outside, you can walk through a recreation of a prairie, savanna and dune inside the museum, complete with authentic sounds and preserved animals.
The Fine Print: Open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m to 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The last admission ticket is sold at 4:30 p.m. Tickets are $9 for adults; $7 for students and seniors (60+); $6 for children ages 3-13 and free for children under 3.
5757 South Woodlawn Ave.
Why Go? Your kids will have no idea that they are learning how to design a home as they participate in this fun workshop, using Legos to build 3D models.
Insider Tip: The workshop is appropriate for kids ages 6 and up. Due to construction, parking is extremely limited, so public transportation may be a good option.
Must Do: After the workshop, take a tour of the Robie House, hailed as “one of the most important buildings in the history of American architecture.” The house was created by Frank Lloyd Wright for his client Frederick C. Robie.
The Fine Print: The next date for the Lego workshop at Robie House is Jan. 18. The house is located at 5757 S. Woodlawn Ave., Chicago. Tickets must be purchased in advance; admission is $5 per child and free for an accompanying adult.
100 S. Barnes Rd.
Aurora, IL 60506
Why Go? Blackberry Farm is a living history museum on 54 scenic acres with a lake, ponds and a meandering stream, with five museums and grounds with more than 200 varieties of trees, floral displays and historic agricultural gardens.
Insider Tip: Picnic areas are available if you would like to bring your own lunch. Or you can find a variety of options at the Summer Kitchen at the north end of the park.
Must Do: Visitors can watch demonstrations of blacksmithing, spinning, weaving, sewing and pottery, as well as visit a one-room schoolhouse, an Aurora home from the 1840s, and a farm cabin.
The Fine Print: Pay special attention to the farm’s hours for each building as you plan your trip. Resident admission for children and senior citizens is $4.50 and non-resident is $7; resident adult admission is $5 and non-resident is $8; children 2 and under are free. The park is only open on Saturday and Sundays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
1601 North Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60614
312) 642- 4600
Why Go? Explore hidden Chicago gems by bus, boat, train, foot, bike, or (for adults) barstool with the museum's various guided tours. Click here for upcoming dates.
Insider Tip: The permanent exhibition Chicago: Crossroads of America allows you to explore the city's history through a series of galleries that highlight artifacts, interactive features, and multimedia presentations. You can climb aboard 'L' car No. 1, visit a jazz club, or picture yourself in the retro fashions of the Marshall Field's store window.
Must Do: Check out the kid-friendly Sensing Chicago exhibit—kids can even be a Chicago-style hot dog in the gallery.
The Fine Print: Located at 1601 N. Clark St., the museum is accessible by public transportation. General admission is $14 for adults; $12 for seniors (65+); $12 for students ages 13-22 (with ID) and free for children ages 12 and younger.