Top 10 Instagram-Worthy Spots in the Oak Park Area
The Oak Park area, situated just 10 miles west of Chicago, is as picturesque as the city for different reasons. Notable prairie-style architecture a la Frank Lloyd Wright lines nature-dense brick roads in Oak Park versus the modern, towering skyscrapers in the windy city. Chicago’s lakefront beaches make for impressive photos, but Oak Park’s lush green parks are equally remarkable. Michigan Avenue is a hot-spot for people-watching and photo-snapping, but take a few minutes to explore Oak Park’s energetic downtown for some awesome shots of the charming shops and lively restaurants—and the locals who frequent them. Grab your smartphone and get your #VisitOakPark hashtag ready: here are 10 of the best Instagram spots around Oak Park!
1. Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio
Frank Lloyd Wright is known for his renowned prairie-style architecture. See where the ideas and blueprints of his many architectural masterpieces were drawn up—right in his home and studio in Oak Park. Go on a guided tour around the beautifully preserved house and snap pictures of some of Wright’s signature touches.
2. Dominican University
Dominican University in River Forest is a gorgeous campus peppered with luscious nature and vibrant architecture. Dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s, the school’s buildings feature historic design trademarks such as arched doorways, vaulted ceilings, intricate carvings, and stained glass windows. Don’t miss a tour of the library!
3. Garfield Park Conservatory
Considered the largest indoor conservatory of its kind in the country, the Garfield Park Conservatory is chock-full of photo-ops. Inside you’ll find a range of colorful tropical flowers and palm trees, alongside themed rooms like the desert house. Step outside and explore its outdoor garden, modeled after rolling chateau landscapes in Europe.
4. Brookfield Zoo
From zebras to parrots and everything in between, Brookfield Zoo has quite an impressive collection of exotic animals from across the globe. This renowned zoo is probably one of the area’s most photographed destinations, both for the rare animal sightings and the expansive nature-rich grounds. Plus, kids love to climb aboard the gorilla, lion and other animal statues—including inside a kangaroo’s pouch.
5. Pleasant Home
This sprawling 30-room mansion is one of Oak Park’s most treasured architectural landmarks – and once you’ve seen it up close, you will understand why. Designed by prolific Prairie School architect George W. Maher in 1897, Pleasant Home boasts jaw-dropping art glass windows and ornate wood carvings at every turn.
6. Downtown Riverside
One of the nation’s first planned communities and a National Historic Landmark since 1970, Downtown Riverside is a photographer’s dream. Its preserved historic architecture, sprawling green parkways, and winding roads with quaint gas street lanterns serve as a charming backdrop to the downtown’s most recognizable attraction – the striking Water Tower.
7. Oak Park Art League
With a proud history of artistic innovation, it’s no surprise that the art scene is lively in Oak Park. The Oak Park Art League, one of the longest running non-profit art organizations in Illinois, makes sure of it with rotating exhibitions covering a range of impressive artistic styles in its large gallery space.
8. Austin Gardens
Though just steps from downtown Oak Park’s bustling shopping district, Austin Gardens feels like a world away. At 3.6 acres, the gardens are home to a scenic walking path dotted with richly colored wildflowers, foliage, and a recently unveiled environmental education center for community events. The space also plays host to the Oak Park Festival Theatre’s popular outdoor performances during warmer months, drawing locals and visitors alike.
9. Ernest Hemingway Birthplace
Oak Park's first home to have electricity is historically significant for other reasons. The beautifully preserved Victorian home at 339 N. Oak Park Avenue, just a few blocks from the heart of Oak Park's Hemingway District, is where Nobel Prize winning author Ernest Hemingway was born and spent his first six years. Brimming with rare photographs, antiuques, and period furniture, this landmark residence makes for eye-popping interior and exterior captures.
10. Pleasant District
Nestled just south of downtown Oak Park, the Pleasant District is every bit as beguiling as its name would suggest. With the Pleasant Home, a treasured landmark, in its heart, the district’s streetscape was designed to reflect the area’s historical significance. Bewitching string lights lining the streets evoke a starry-night feeling all year long.