Summer in Oak Park, IL
Summertime is spectacular in the architecture and design wonderland of Oak Park and its neighboring west Chicagoland communities. Just 10 miles west of downtown Chicago in central Cook County, this historic suburb was home to the legendary Frank Lloyd Wright and Ernest Hemingway in their early years. The village of Oak Park features more of Wright’s illuminating architecture – 25 structures – than anywhere else in the world. Visit the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio and ‘Wright’s jewel box,’ the stunning Unity Temple that makes Oak Park part of a rare World Heritage site. Take a guided bicycle tour – bike included – through historic districts, Prairie School style, and estate-like homes including Cheney Mansion and Pleasant Home any weekend June through October at Pedal Oak Park. (There are also walking tours.) Stroll nearby Riverside’s winding streets and elegant real estate in the world’s first planned suburb by Frederick Law Olmsted on special walking and bike tours. Or enjoy mile after mile of classic Chicago bungalows as you drive through Berwyn.
Outdoor family adventure awaits at Brookfield Zoo, one of the country’s largest parks with 3,000+ animals and 420+ species in natural habitats. Open every day all year long, the Zoo’s new Ice Age Giants exhibit amazes with life-sized, animatronic wooly mammoths and sabre-toothed cats. Explore from on high and fly on ziplines at Go Ape in a forest preserve setting. Step back into nature: the largest strip of original prairie land east of the Mississippi River is at Wolf Road Nature Preserve; Trailside Museum stretches along the Des Plaines River; and the Illinois Prairie Path offers rails-to-trails wonders for dozens of miles. Enjoy forest bathing on trails through wood and wetland at the serene Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center in Willow Springs.
Downtown Oak Park and its suburban neighbors are a short drive or public transportation commute from Chicago. CTA (city) trains offer 20- to 30-minute trips on the Green Line or Blue Line. Metra suburban trains offer convenient central stops in nearly every community.
Find four-season adventure at Wonder Works Children's Museum with imaginative play environments for kids from birth through age 8 and their families. The delightful Oak Park Conservatory has greenery and fun all year long. Marvel at Triton College’s Cernan Earth & Space Center in River Grove. And don’t miss Brookfield’s Galloping Ghost Arcade, the largest video arcade in America.
Summer is the time when local museums go beyond their walls into the great outdoors. Special event tours let you explore beautiful park districts and local lore and legends when you visit Oak Park. Community historical societies make Chicago history come alive, from local gangsters to Forest Park’s many cemeteries to young Hemingway’s childhood journeys. Explore fun, quirky spaces like the 16-Inch Softball Museum (created in Chicago and featuring a national tournament every July), the Ernest Hemingway Birthplace Museum, Vial House in La Grange, the West Town Museum of Cultural History in Maywood, the Oak Park River Forest Museum, or the Riverside Historical Museum tucked into stunning 19th-century architecture.
As the sun sets, Chicagoland West comes alive with entertainment, drinking and dining options. Berwyn’s FitzGerald’s has played center stage to the Midwest and Chicago live music scene for decades. Other venues include Broadview’s Blue Note Jazz Club, Berwyn’s The Outta Space art music bar, and headliners from across the country at River Forest’s Dominican University Performing Arts Center. Every town has one or more craft breweries: Try One Lake Brewing and Kinslahger in Oak Park; Exit Strategy along busy Madison Street’s ‘restaurant row’ in Forest Park; and Milk Money Brewing and Hop District Brewing out La Grange way. Don’t miss Quincy Street Distillery’s tours and tastings in Riverside. Enjoy a long list of restaurants to rival Chicago’s finest dining in every suburb. Treat yourself to the best Chicago food creations, like Italian beef. Stay late – or better yet, stay the weekend – at a local hotel like the Carleton in Oak Park, the quaint Harvey House bed & breakfast, or unique AirBnB venues like Sleepover Castle at FitzGerald’s.
So come meet us here in this special corner of Chicagoland. Whether you’re advance planners or accidental tourists, our 20+ communities in the Oak Park area open their doors wide to welcome you – at the threshold of Chicago with awe, history and adventure.