Chicago’s jam-packed with things to do and see — but there’s also plenty of cool spots just outside the city. If you have time in your schedule, consider adding any of these half-day excursions to get a taste of Chicago attractions beyond the city limits.

Frank Lloyd Wright in Oak Park

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. Oak Park, Illinois, 10 miles west of downtown 

Brookfield Zoo

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. Brookfield, Illinois, 13 miles west of downtown 

Friday Night Flights

Baha’i House of Worship

One of only seven in the world and the only one in North America, this stunning 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. Wilmette, Illinois, 15 miles north of downtown 

Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center

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. Skokie, Illinois, 17 miles north of downtown 

Ravinia Festival

Discover “the sound of summer” at Ravinia Festival, Chicagoland’s premier outdoor concert-park that’s hosted everyone from Aretha Franklin to John Legend and beyond. The gorgeous amphitheater is the summer home of the renowned Chicago Symphony Orchestra, plus restaurants, a carousel, a sculpture walk, and more. Pack a picnic and enjoy the perfect for a summer night under the stars. Highland Park, Illinois, 25 miles north of downtown

Morton Arboretum

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. Lisle, Illinois, 25 miles west of downtown 

LEGOLAND Discovery Center

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. Schaumburg, Illinois, 25 miles northwest of downtown 

Chicago Botanic Garden

It’s all here at the Chicago Botanic Garden — Nine islands, four natural habitats, 24 gardens and 384 acres filled with flowers, scenic waterfalls, native prairies, and warm greenhouses. This picturesque paradise offers free admission and tours that are completely customizable to your interests. Glencoe, Illinois, 25 miles north of downtown 

Arlington Park Race Course

Benoit Photo

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 — you can bet on it. Arlington Heights, Illinois, 25 miles northwest of downtown 

Route 66 Raceway

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. Joliet, Illinois, 45 miles southwest of downtown

Starved Rock State Park

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. Utica, Illinois, 95 miles southwest of downtown

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

One of four U.S. 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. Springfield, Illinois, 200 miles southwest of downtown