If you’re looking for a destination with several prime attractions within easy walking distance, then Chicago has everything you need. Clustered along the Lake Michigan shoreline, you’ll find art, history, science, and even a world class aquarium. Fine hotels are within walking distance of most attractions and it’s an easy bus or taxi ride to the others. Downtown Chicago is also easy to get to whether driving, flying, or by rail. Let’s take a look at five of Chicago’s best museums.
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Field Museum of Natural History
I find the Field Museum to be awe inspiring. The classical architecture encompasses literally thousands of objects, if not more, including cultural artifacts, fossils, and geological samples. Some of the highlights are the gem room, shrunken heads, and the towering T- Rex named Sue who greets visitors in the main hall. You could easily spend a whole day in the Field Museum and not see everything. Special exhibits, tours, and a theater are also available. Visit their website for details on hours and current events.
Opening in 1930, the John G. Shedd Aquarium is home to more than 32,000 animals representing 1,500 species, which is one of the largest and most diverse collections of aquatic animals in the world. The exhibits include a 90,000 gallon Caribbean Reef, an half-million gallon Philippine coral reef ecosystem, and a Pacific themed marine mammal pavilion which features beluga whales, dolphins, and sea otters. There are also rotating special exhibits, a 4D theater, and daily presentations about the various aquatic life. For more information visit their website.
Museum of Science and Industry
Chicago is home to one of the finest science museums in the country. Inside you’ll explore a diverse array of topics including energy, transportation, weather, and even farm tech. Interactive exhibit galleries feature a coal mine, massive model railroad, hatching chicks, and the captured German submarine U-505. Several tours are offered as well as a large format movie theater and rotating special exhibits. Visit their website for the latest hours and info.
Art Institute of Chicago
Chicago boats one of the nation’s best art collections. Inside you’ll find creations of every type from famous paintings by Renaissance artists to ancient pottery. There are also unique exhibits, such as a collection of nearly 70 miniature room models representing European and American decor and furnishings from the 1200s through the 1930s when the set was created. My personal favorite is the Arms and Armor gallery, which features Medieval and Renaissance era suits of armor as well as other contemporary artifacts. Visit their website for info on hours and special exhibits.
The Adler Planetarium features several exhibits detailing the history of space exploration from early astronomers and the first telescopes to our modern satellites and space station. The centerpiece, of course, is the large planetarium which projects a wide variety of shows from current star gazing guides to educational programs oriented towards younger kids. There are hands on exhibits and shows that will appeal to all ages. Visit their website for a list of current planetarium shows.
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