When our family visited Chicago for two days last summer, one of our “must see” attractions was the Chicago History Museum located in Lincoln Park. While visiting a museum might not be at the top of your family’s sightseeing list, it’s here where visitors can relive parts of Chicago’s extensive history.
Some of the high points of our visit including climbing aboard the wooden “L” car Number One and taking a seat in a jazz club where we listened to a selection of great music. We also learned about the Chicago fire, saw an amazing exhibition of early Chicago photographs, and enjoyed viewing Chicago in miniature. There is also plenty for children to see with all kinds of interactive exhibits and a gallery just for them where they can ride a high wheeled bicycle or pretend to be a Chicago hotdog.
Planning your visit should start with a visit to the Chicago History Museum website at ChicagoHistory.org where you’ll learn important information about hours, admission prices, parking and more. Here are some additional visitor tips:
Allow for plenty of time
There is so much on display at the Chicago History Museum that it’s impossible to see everything in just one visit. For families on a tight schedule, we recommend a minimum of three to four hours which is enough time to explore the Exelon wing, see the Lincoln exhibits, view the dioramas, and let the kiddos play around in the kid-friendly “Sensing Chicago” gallery.
Free coat check
When schools are in session, the museum can get pretty darn crowded especially in areas where there are interactive exhibits or lots of interpretive text. To avoid clobbering people with your bags and umbrellas in the galleries, we recommend taking advantage of the free coat check services to stash unnecessary items during your visit.
Free audio tours
The price of admission includes a couple of free audio tours which is a great way to experience the “Chicago: Crossroads of America” exhibit without having to read all the interpretive panels (especially when the museum is crowded.) If you have tweens and teens in the family, they’ll enjoy listening to “In Our Own words”, an audio tour made by local teens.
Eat lunch on the premises
The Chicago History Museum also has a nice little cafe on the premises which is a great place to grab lunch during your visit, especially if you are pressed for time.
Visit the Gift Shop
For first time visitors to Chicago (like our family was), it can be tough to find quality souvenirs to bring back home. We were pleased to discover that the Museum had a first rate gift shop with lots of historically-themed merchandise including some rather awesome reproduction Chicago posters.
While there is a public parking garage a block away ($9 with museum validation), our family opted to ride the bus in since downtown traffic is so crowded. CTA buses 22, 36, 72, 73, 151, and 156 stop within sight of the Museum. The Brown Line Sedgwick station and Red Line Clark/Division station are located about one-half mile from the Museum. Public transit in Chicago is so seamless that we had only a few minutes wait from the time we got off the L for our bus, which brought us directly to the Museum.
We really enjoyed our visit to the Chicago Historical Museum and learned a lot of things about Chicago that we didn’t know before. For our family, it was the perfect way to see and experience Chicago in the short amount of time we had.
More by this contributor:
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10 tips for planning your Route 66 road trip
10 things to see along Route 66 in Illinois