If you have an itinerary opening, consider adding any of these half-day excursions to get a taste of Chicago sites beyond the city.
FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT BUILDINGS
10 miles west of downtown
(Oak Park, Illinois)
Oak Park has more examples from architect Frank Lloyd Wright than anywhere in the world. From private residences like three Queen Anne-style "Bootleg Houses" to public-access properties like the unprecedented Unity Temple, see the evolution of his Prairie architecture style. Stop by his inspiring home and studio, the low and long Frank W. Thomas House or the medieval Tudor Revival-style Nathan G. Moore House.
13 miles west of downtown (Brookfield, Illinois)
Whether you want to marvel at polar bears, get close to bottlenose dolphins, wander through wetlands to see alligators or encounter a kingdom of big cats, there's a ton to explore at the Brookfield Zoo.
BAHA'I HOUSE OF WORSHIP
15 miles north of downtown (Wilmette, Illinois)
One of only seven in the world and the only one in North America, this structure on the shores of Lake Michigan is the largest and oldest Baha'i House of Worship in existence. Visitors of all faiths are welcome to the temple to pray, meditate or take in the peaceful gardens and intricate architecture.
ILLINOIS HOLOCAUST MUSEUM & EDUCATION CENTER
17 miles north of downtown (Skokie, Illinois)
At the poignant Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, remember the past and honor the memories of those who were lost with exhibitions that feature more than 500 artifacts, virtual reality experiences and contemporary artistic responses to genocide.
25 miles north of downtown (Highland Park, Illinois)
Discover "the sound of summer" at Ravinia Festival, Chicagoland's premier outdoor concert-park. Summer home of the renowned Chicago Symphony Orchestra and host to acts like Maroon 5 and The Judds, Ravinia has stars on the stage and stars in the sky – plus restaurants, a carousel and a sculpture walk.
25 miles west of downtown (Lisle, Illinois)
For a foray into nature, tour this internationally-recognized organization. Across the 1,700 acres at Morton Arboretum, you can do everything from walk among ancient oaks to explore a one-acre Maze Garden.
LEGOLAND® DISCOVERY CENTER
25 miles northwest of downtown (Schaumburg, Illinois)
Inside LEGOLAND® Discovery Center, get lost in all things LEGO. Reach out and touch the stars in 4-D cinema, ride a dragon through the Medieval LEGO Castle, see iconic Chicago landmarks in MINILAND®, learn top LEGO-building secrets and more at this popular family attraction.
CHICAGO BOTANIC GARDEN
25 miles north of downtown (Glencoe, Illinois)
Nine islands, four natural habitats, 24 gardens and 384 acres filled with flowers, scenic waterfalls, native prairies and warm greenhouses – it's all here at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Even better? This picturesque paradise offers tours that are completely customizable to your interests.
ARLINGTON PARK RACE COURSE
25 miles northwest of downtown (Arlington Heights, Illinois)
And they're off! Head to the Arlington Park Race Course for an afternoon of live, exhilarating thoroughbred horse racing, fantastic food, winning wagers and great sights from a six-story grandstand. In other words, you're heart will be racing and everyone has a blast – bet on it.
ROUTE 66 RACEWAY
45 miles southwest of downtown (Joliet, Illinois)
Do you love cars? Then you won't want to miss the Route 66 Raceway. This fast-paced stadium has everything from full-throttle drag racing that reaches nearly 300 miles per hour to down-and-dirty demolition derbies.
STARVED ROCK STATE PARK
95 miles southwest of downtown (Utica, Illinois)
Between scenic overlooks of the Illinois River, waterfalls, bluffs and canyons dominate the stunning landscape at Starved Rock. Check out the fascinating rock formations, primarily St. Peter sandstone, laid down in a huge shallow inland sea more than 425 million years ago and later brought to the surface. Hike, fish, camp, take to the waters or dive into winter sports – activities abound year round.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY & MUSEUM
200 miles southwest of downtown (Springfield, Illinois)
One of four US presidents to reside in Illinois before life in the White House, Abraham Lincoln was the nation's 16th president and the leader's hometown of Springfield boasts the largest concentration of Lincoln sites in the state. At the Presidential Library and Museum, watch his entire life story play out under one roof – from a TV control room on Election Night 1860, the Blue Room of the White House, an Indiana log cabin and Ford's Theatre.