Top Stops in Oak Park, Illinois | Midwest Living
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Top Stops in Oak Park, Illinois

Less than 10 miles from downtown Chicago, the western suburb of Oak Park boasts the world’s largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright-designed homes and buildings. But there’s plenty more to see in Oak Park and its neighbors, including the Brookfield Zoo, the Ernest Hemingway Birthplace Museum, the Oak Park Conservatory and Cernan Earth and Space Center.

Frank Lloyd Wright started his career in Oak Park—he bought a home there in 1889, when he was 22—and his Prairie-style gems in the area draw architecture buffs from around the world. Round out your stay with history stops, outdoor adventure, art displays and foodie finds.

Frank Lloyd Wright Historic District Bike Ride

Frank Lloyd Wright Historic District bike ride

Do

Brookfield Zoo Feed a giraffe, pet a penguin and watch dolphins dive at the zoo, home to more than 3,500 animals. The Hamill Family Play Zoo keeps little ones entertained; older kids will enjoy Backstage Adventures with zookeepers. czs.org/brookfield

Brookfield Zoo

Brookfield Zoo. Photo courtesy of Illinois Office of Tourism.

Cernan Earth and Space Center Apollo astronaut Gene Cernan’s space suit, replica spacecraft and planetarium shows star on the campus of Triton College in River Grove. triton.edu/cernan

Ernest Hemingway Birthplace Home Museum Tour the Queen Anne home where Pulitzer and Novel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway was born and spent his first six years. hemingwaybirthplace.com

Hemingway Dining Room

Hemingway Dining Room. Photo courtesy Hemingway Birthplace Media Images

Frank Lloyd Wright Historic District Prairie-style gems fill the district, best explored by foot or bicycle (bike tours include Pedal Oak Park). flwright.orgcal.flwright.org/tours/pedaloakpark

Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio Wright spent the first 20 (and most prolific) years of his career, from 1889 to 1909, in Oak Park. Guided tours are offered daily. cal.flwright.org/tours/homeandstudio

Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio

Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio. Photo courtesy of Illinois Office of Tourism

Frederick Law Olmsted Society’s Historic Walking Tours One of Oak Park’s neighbors, Riverside, was an early planned community by Frederick Law Olmsted, America’s greatest landscape architect (perhaps best known for New York City’s Central Park). Two-hour monthly walking tours inform cover either the north or south side of the area. olmstedsociety.org

Galloping Ghost Arcade The Brookfield spot says it’s the largest video arcade in the world. Pay $20 at the door and play up to 700 classics, no quarters or tokens needed. gallopingghostarcade.com

Go Ape Adventures A three-hour trek through the forest in Western Springs includes ziplines, swings and rope ladders. goape.com

Hal Tyrrell Trailside Museum of Natural History An 1870s Victorian mansion in the woods near the Des Plaines River provides a scenic setting to learn about nature. See displays on wildlife and habitats and explore wildflower gardens, nature trails and a pond. fpdcc.com

Oak Park Art League Catch an exhibit or take a class at the gallery and art school, founded in 1921. opalart.clubexpress.com

Oak Park Conservatory Citrus trees, scented geraniums and tropical palms are among the 2,000-plus plants at the free conservatory, which includes a Mediterranean room, tropical room and desert room. pdop.org

Oak Park Conservatory

Photo courtesy of Oak Park Conservatory

Oak Park Festival Theatre Pack a picnic and head to Austin Gardens to catch an open-air performance at this summer favorite. Expect the likes of Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde and Tennessee Williams. oakparkfestival.com

Oak Park River Forest Museum The renovated 1898 Oak Park firehouse shows changing exhibits on the region’s history. oprfmuseum.org

Pleasant Home One of the earliest examples of Prairie School architecture, the home was designed in 1897 by George W. Maher. Now a museum, it’s open for tours and offers educational, cultural and community programs. pleasanthome.org

Unity Temple Take guided or self-guided tours of the Oak Park temple, considered the greatest public building of Wright’s Prairie period. flwright.org

Wonder Works The Oak Park children’s museum is loaded with six multisensory, interactive exhibits like Lights, Camera, Action and Build It!  wonder-works.org

Eat

Delia’s Kitchen Breakfast classics, including Benedicts and brioche French toast, delight all day. deliaskitchen.net

Hemmingway’s Bistro Try classic French dishes like Mussels á la Marinière and Grilled Steak Frites made with fresh Midwest flavors. hemmingwaysbistro.com

Hala Kahiki Tiki Bar and Lounge Polynesian décor and more than 130 tropical drinks star at this River Grove institution. chicagotikibar.com

Hala Kahiki

Hala Tahiki

Irish Times Pub and Restaurant Get your Irish on in Brookfield with shepherd’s pie, corned beef and cabbage, and a bevy of beers. irishtimespub.com

Kinslagher Brewing Company Oak Park’s first brewery offers beers like chestnut red Chicago Common and the pale Prohibition Pilsner. kinslahger.com

Johnnie’s Beef The no-frills, cash-only spot in Elmwood Park serves Chicago-style Italian beef sandwiches. Johnnie's Beef on Facebook

Maya Del Sol Pair wild mushroom tostadas with handcrafted margaritas and habanero-spiked cocktails on the lively patio. mayadelsol.com

Maya Del Sol

Maya Del Sol

Stay

The Carleton of Oak Park Rooms and suites at the 1928 hotel have elegant furnishings and a boutique vibe. carletonhotel.com

Harvey House Bed and Breakfast Guests can choose from five suites with amenities such as stained glass windows, marble bathrooms and fireplaces. harveyhousebb.com

For more information: visitoakpark.com

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