Illinois Itinerary: Sampling a Slice of Suburbia
The Itinerary at a Glance
North Chicago, Old Mill Creek, Gurnee, Glencoe, Barrington Hills, Union, Woodstock, Arlington Heights, Oak Park, Brookfield, Oakbrook Terrace, Chicago, Frankfort, University Park
4 Unique Experiences on This Trip
- Chicago Botanic Garden
- Sanfilippo Estate
- Brookfield Zoo
- Lotton Art Glass
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Duration: 3 Days
This Itinerary is Ideal For: All
Start your day at the National Museum of the American Sailor with a peek into the everyday life of a sailor at the U.S. Navy’s newest museum. Next, visit the Tempel Lipizzans to get up-close and personal with these brilliant horses. See the stables where individual care of the stallions is a high priority. Pet some noses and learn about the history of this rare breed.
Visit Gurnee Mills, home to over 200 stores, including name-brand, discount and anchor retailers. Have lunch in one of the two food courts or the Rainforest Cafe. Later, visit the beautiful Chicago Botanic Garden. Situated on 385 acres and around nine islands, it consists of 27 unique gardens that will stimulate your senses. Don’t miss the renowned bonsai collection.
Enjoy dining at one of the area’s farm-to-table restaurants followed by a performance at a playhouse, such as Northlight Theatre, Writers Theatre or Piven Theater.
Start the day off right with a private tour of the magnificent Sanfilippo Estate’s “Place de la Musique.” Known for its collection of unique music machines, phonographs, and arcade and gambling machines, plus the world’s largest restored theater pipe organ and other functional mechanical antiques, Place de la Musique resides within a breathtaking French Second Empire setting. The next stop is the Illinois Railway Museum. Originally formed to preserve one important piece of rolling stock, the museumhas evolved into an educational and historic preservation organization that created the largest railroad showcase on the North American continent.
For lunch, kick around downtown Woodstock, site of the 1993 comedy Groundhog Day, starring funnyman Bill Murray. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the town square is rich with Victorian architecture. Then it’s off to Arlington Park Race Track. Coined “the most beautiful track in America,” Arlington began Thoroughbred racing in 1927 and as part of the Churchill Downs family, that tradition remains strong today.
Try the Arlington Heights Entertainment District. With restaurants, theaters, lounges, live entertainment and events, this vibrant downtown district is a popular nightlife destination for visitors and locals.
Travel to Oak Park, the west suburban community made famous by Frank Lloyd Wright and Ernest Hemingway. Marvel at Wright’s architectural prowess on a tour of his home and studio and see samples of his genius in the surrounding neighborhood. Tour Hemingway’s birthplace and explore Wright’s magnificent Unity Temple, a National Historic Landmark built in 1905.
For offbeat fun, take the group to nearby Brookfield Zoo, a 216-acre oasis with more than 450 species of animals. The hop-on, hop-off open-air Motor Safari trams are a great way to take it all in and include live narration. Don’t miss the dolphin show.
Take in a Broadway-style musical and enjoy a scrumptious dinner at the legendary Drury Lane Theatre and adjoining Lucille Restaurant.
Watch three generations of glass blowers at Lotton Art Glass in Crete. Lotton is one of the very few studios in the world to start with elements of the earth like sand, soda ash, lime, borax, zinc and metals, resulting in some of the most breathtaking colors that you will ever see. Charles Lotton (83), his sons and grandson give demonstrations of glass blowing techniques. Afterwards, browse the fully furnished gallery and pick up one-of-a-kind mementos.
Next, it’s on to downtown Frankfort, a welcoming place since 1855. From award-winning restaurants to upscale, eclectic specialty boutiques, enjoy a relaxing shopping experience in this charming, historic downtown.
End your tour at Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park, a collection of 29 masterworks of large-scale sculpture. Situated on 100 acres of prairie landscape at Governors State University, this “museum-in-theprairie” highlights important landscape-based sculptures by distinguished artists at the height of their creative powers.