Oak Park Illinois
Up-close underwater view of a polar bear at the Brookfield Zoo
Kayaking in a picturesque creek in the Village of Brookfield
The waiting room in the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio
Overlooking the village of Riverside with Chicago's skyline in the distance
Exploring the woodlands at the Hal Tyrell Trailside Museum
Pleasant Home, an 1897 Prairie Style-house now open as a museum
A sampling of scrumptious offerings at The Heritage in Forest Park
Interior view of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Unity Temple
The laser light show finale during Summer Nights at Brookfield Zoo
Exterior view of the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio
- Major Airports:
- Chicago Midway (MDW)
- Chicago O’Hare (ORD)
Architecture, culture and history just minutes from Chicago
An Architectural Treasure
Frank Lloyd Wright spent the first 20 years of his career, from 1889 to 1909, in Oak Park. In the Frank Lloyd Wright District, dozens of private homes and several public structures display his distinctive Prairie School architecture. A guided walking tour highlights significant sites, including the architect’s home and studio and the Unity Temple, a National Historic Landmark that recently underwent a restoration that cost $25 million U.S. dollars. The Wright Plus Housewalk in May offers a rare chance to see interiors of privately owned Wright-designed homes. Architecture fans will also enjoy exploring the Gunderson District, the Ridgeland-Oak Park Historic District, George W. Maher’s Pleasant Home and the neighboring town of Riverside, designed by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted and home to more than 70 notable designs from 20th-century architects.
A Hemingway History
Pulitzer- and Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway is usually associated with Cuba, Spain or Key West, but he was born in Oak Park in 1899. His birthplace, a circa 1890 Queen Anne-style home, was the first in town to have electricity. After serving as a rental property for 80 years, the house was meticulously restored to its original beauty by the Ernest Hemingway Foundation. A tour of his birthplace is a must when visiting Oak Park.
Traveling with younger ones in tow? Not a problem. Take the crew to the Brookfield Zoo to see everything from penguins to pythons and polar bears. There are also evening concerts in the summer. Escape to the tropics any time of year – for free – at the Oak Park Conservatory indoor botanical gardens. See native animals and hike in the woods at the Hal Tyrrell Trailside Museum of Natural History, which also offers free admission. Enjoy hands-on exhibits and play areas at Wonder Works Children’s Museum. The Galloping Ghost Arcade lays claim to the largest video arcade in the USA. Relive your childhood playing 600 games spanning from the 1970s through the 2000s.
Tempting Food and Drink
Whatever your appetite craves, you’ll find it in Oak Park’s diverse eateries. A few must-try spots include deep-dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s, bold Latin fusion at Maya Del Sol, French cuisine at Hemmingway’s Bistro, Moroccan and Lebanese fare at Grape Leaves Restaurant, Greek dishes at Papaspiros and updated Italian classics at Cucina Paradiso. May through August, downtown Oak Park’s Thursday Night Out offers discounted dining and free concerts. Thirsty? Order a craft brew at Oak Park Brewing or Kinslahger Brewing Company, or sample small-batch spirits at Quincy Street Distillery in Riverside. The honey- and persimmon-infused whiskey is especially tasty.
Oak Park is home to more Frank Lloyd Wright-designed structures than anywhere else in the world.
Photo: Visit Oak Park
Notable people born in Oak Park include writers Ernest Hemingway and Edgar Rice Burroughs, actress Betty White, McDonald’s restaurant owner Ray Kroc, and Dan Castellaneta, the voice of TV’s Homer Simpson.
Photo: Visit Oak Park
The church scene in the 1990 “Home Alone” movie was filmed at Grace Episcopal Church in Oak Park.
Photo: Visit Oak Park
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