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National Great Rivers Museum
Located adjacent to the Melvin Price Locks and Dam, this museum is dedicated to telling the story of the Mississippi River, from its colorful history to its modern-day role as a major transportation corridor. The museum features kid-friendly, interactive and computer animated exhibits. Steer a towboat through the locks and dam via simulator, measure your water consumption or come face-to-face with river fish in the aquarium.
Located on over 325 acres, popular attractions include the Mastodon Gallery, the gorgeous Sunken Garden, an 18-hole golf course/driving range, the zoo, a 28-acre fishing lake with a one-mile multiple use trail, war memorials and the Winter Recreation Area. Phillips Park Visitors Center & Mastodon Gallery showcases the mastodon bones that were unearthed in the park during a 1934 Civil Works Administration Project. The skull being the largest of the artifacts, weighs 188 pounds.
Mastodon Gallery at Phillips Park
Get an up-close view of Ice Age mastodon bones unearthed in Phillips Park in the 1930s, while glimpsing into the rich history of one of the area's most beautiful parks.
The Science Center of Southern Illinois
This center was designed for children ages 3-13 and their families. The science museum features several interactive hands-on exhibits dealing with a variety of basic concepts of science, as well as special events and programs.
William M. Staerkel Planetarium
Discover the universe at the second largest planetarium in Illinois, the William M. Staerkel Planetarium, located on the campus of Parkland College. With a state-of-the-art digital projection system, visitors can learn about the stars, planets and more in this cutting-edge environment. At the planetarium website, you will learn of special programs and features coinciding with the many events in our universe. Public shows are on most Friday and Saturday nights, as well as summer matinees.
University of Illinois Champaign Urbana
The University of Illinois is a world leader in research, teaching and public engagement. It's distinguished by the breadth of their programs, broad academic excellence and internationally renowned faculty. This Big Ten school offers rich experiences beyond the classroom from the best in performing arts to world-class sports. Discover the scenic campus through tours of the historic buildings and those that are pushing the envelope in technology.
Chicago Children's Museum at Navy Pier
Hands-on exhibits and daily-changing activities make every visit unique for young children and adults, too. Dig deep into the Dinosaur Expedition, try to stay dry in WaterWays, make a masterpiece in the KraftArtabounds Studio, and climb up to the crow's nest on the Kovler Family Climbing Schooner. Toddlers can have fun in Kids Town and Treehouse Trails.
Strap a mask and flippers onto your imagination and chart a course to Shedd Aquarium. Have you ever seen eye-to-eye with a dolphin? Said hello to a penguin on a stroll to the South Pole? Immersed yourself in a flooded Amazon forest? Or met a friendly beluga whale? You can do it all at Shedd! Photo courtesy of the John G. Shedd Aquarium
The Field Museum
Discover Sue, the largest and most complete T. rex ever found! At the Field Museum you can also get a bug's-eye view in the Underground Adventure, descend into an Egyptian tomb, be dazzled in the Hall of Gems, come nose to nose with the infamous man-eating lions of Tsavo, and walk among dinosaurs in Evolving Planet.
Museum of Science and Industry
A world of discovery awaits at the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere. Explore more than 800 exhibits, including the legendary U-505, a German submarine captured on the high seas during World War II; take off on a Boeing 727 airplane for a simulated cross-country flight; descend down a mineshaft for a tour of a realistic coal mine; and witness robots at work in a toy factory. Take a seat at the museum’s Omnimax Theater and watch awesome 3D flicks on a giant screen.
Science Storms at the Museum of Science & Industry
The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago presents Science Storms, an unprecedented and dramatic permanent exhibit in the Allstate Court that reveals the extraordinary science behind some of nature’s most powerful and compelling phenomena—tornadoes, lightning, fire, tsunamis, sunlight, avalanches and atoms in motion. Inside the 24,000-square-foot exhibit, you’ll investigate the basic scientific principles responsible for nature’s biggest wonders while you get a hands-on, up-close look at these wonders themselves. Science Storms puts you in the middle of the action and lets you search for answers as to how and why things happen in nature.
Wild Reef: Sharks at Shedd Aquarium
See sharks glide through underwater gardens of iridescent corals and garden eels. Wander through a lagoon and mangrove forest, and visit a fishing village where residents saved their reef from destruction.
Waking the T. Rex - The Story of Sue in 3-D
No dinosaur in the world compares to SUE—the largest, most complete, and best preserved Tyrannosaurus Rex ever discovered. Get the inside scoop on SUE and the science behind the world's most famous T. Rex. Terror has a new appetite! Come celebrate the 10th anniversary of SUE and experience the T. Rex in a brand new way.
Opening of the Vaults: Wonders of the 1893 World's Fair
This exhibition is a continuation of the popular Opening the Vaults series. This one provides a never-before-seen glimpse into the Columbian Exposition of 1893, held right here in Chicago! Now 120 years later, the museum is opening its collections to display incredible artifacts from one of the most prominent events in our city's history. Fun fact: the Columbian Exposition of 1893 included the debut of The Field Museum.
Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site
Illinois' only United Nations World Heritage Site. This 2,200-acre site preserves the central section of the largest prehistoric Indian city north of Mexico. An Interpretive Center presents a coherent account of this sophisticated prehistoric culture. Climb Monk's Mound, see the film and life-size village. Don't miss annual events that focus on Native American culture.
Joseph F. Glidden Open House / Open Barn
Come and enjoy musical entertainment, working blacksmith shop, house and barn tours at the home of Joseph F. Glidden creator of barbed wire known as "the winner."
Children's Museum of Edwardsville
Toddlers to 12-year-olds can enjoy the unique interactive exhibits and seasonal events at this fun children's museum.
TREC Recreation Trails
The TREC trail system is a public trail designed to create recreational opportunities. The trails provide a great place for visitors to exercise, whether its walking, riding bikes, or roller blading. The mission is to develop a countrywide, multi-use trail system, educate the communities on the benefits of the trails, and promote an active lifestyle by providing recreational activities.
Under the Prairie Frontier Archaeological Museum
This museum displays hundreds of authentic items from the frontier period, including artifacts that were excavated from the hilltop site of James Latham's 1819 cabin.
Mitchell Museum of the American Indian
Focusing on the art, history and culture of the American Indian. Permanent exhibits are dedicated to the Native cultures of the Woodlands, Plains, Southwest, Northwest Coast and Arctic regions of North America. Each gallery contains a “touching table” where visitors can handle real examples of Indian artifacts, as well as feel the raw materials—including snakeskin, caribou fur, birch bark, turquoise and buffalo skin—that were used by native Americans. Temporary exhibits showcase emerging and established contemporary Native artists. Lectures and performances throughout the year provide a venue for multicultural education.
Genoa Pioneer Day
The Kishwaukee Valley Heritage Society presents "Genoa Pioneer Day." This event will bring the experience of old time tradesman and crafters by providing a demonstration of skills, stagecoach rides, hands on activities, silent auction, fresh churned butter, fresh made cornbread, Lion's Club pork chops, kids games, music, old time pretend gun fights, President and Mrs Lincoln will be there. Bring your kids, Bring your friends! Bring your grandma and your grandpa!!! A fun and educational event right in your own hometown!! Activities start at 11:00 AM and Finish at 4:00 PM. For more information call 815-784-5559 or 815-784-5498, or visit www.genoamainstreet.com. Sponsored by Kishwaukee Valley Heritage Society.
Kohl Children's Museum
Kohl Children’s Museum offers hands-on, interactive exhibits designed exclusively for children ages birth to 8. All of the exhibits and programs are designed to make learning fun and interesting for young children. A visit to a grocery store, a veterinarian’s office as well as a day care inhabited by dolls allow children to participate in adult activities on their own scale. Children can build a house, make music, take care of cars, explore the properties of water and much more in the many engaging exhibits featured.
Grayslake Heritage Center
A state of the art history museum dedicated to collecting and sharing the history of the greater Grayslake area. The Grayslake Heritage Center offers programs, exhibitions and special events all year round and includes two galleries, a community room and classroom.
Strawn Art Gallery
Strawn Art Gallery features monthly changing art exhibits, Early Mississippian and Native American pottery, and the Miriam Cowgur Allen Doll Collection.
Wildlife Discovery Center
The Wildlife Discovery Center is a special place offering programs for people of all ages who have an interest in wildlife and their habitat. Children's classes, adult programs, and school field trips focus on wildlife conservation, field biology, and ecology. The Center also offers self-guided nature hikes, workshops, eco-based summer camps, wildlife ecology trips, group presentations, traveling animal exhibits and exciting volunteer opportunities. You can visit eye-to-eye with over 150 animals including a bobcat, raptors, Kookaburras, and an assortment of venomous and non-venomous reptiles like crocodilians, snakes, turtles and tortoises. The Wildlife Discovery Center is home to one of the largest public exhibits of rattlesnakes in North America, including four species that are native to Illinois. Indoor exhibits hours are Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10:00am to 4:00pm. The outdoor exhibits and walking trails are open year round.
CITY: Lake Forest
DuPage Children's Museum, Inc.
Where children and adults learn to play together. Enjoy exhibits, workshops and materials that stretch the imagination and stimulate creativity. A fun environment for exploration and discovery.
Historic 4th at Clayville
In 1842 the Broadwell family hosted a 4th of July celebration at Clayville with artillery, bands, speeches, food and refreshments. Over 300 people came from Springfield alone! Come and help recreate this historic event. You may even see Mr. Lincoln himself!
CITY: Pleasant Plains
Discovery Center Museum
Named one of the top 12 children's museums in the nation by Forbes in 2012, here kids can explore more than 250 hands-on art and science exhibits, a planetarium, TV studio and the Tot Spot for toddlers. Discovery Center also boasts the nation's first community-built outdoor science park, the Rock River Discovery Park, featuring a two-story maze, water play area and dinosaur fossil dig.
Downtown park on the banks of the Rock River. Site of several Native American "Effigy Mounds," which have been preserved.
Burpee Museum of Natural History
The award-winning "Jane: Diary of a Dinosaur" exhibit explores the history of the museum's young T. rex skeleton on display that has been called one of the 10 most important dinosaur discoveries of the past 100 years. Visitors can also view the skull of Homer, a juvenile Triceratops, and see Burpee staff members working on his bones in the lab. Other exhibits include a coal forest with simulated thunderstorms, a Native American exhibit with a full-size wigwam, and rotating traveling exhibits in the new Woodward Hall. Don't miss Burpee's annual PaleoFest in March.
Spring Valley Nature Center/ Volkening Heritage Farm
135 acres, natural history museum, handicapped-accessible trails, 1880's living history farm and pioneer cooking demos. Cost for some programs.
Marie Olmstead Museum
Described as "a hidden gem" of local cultural, natural and prehistoric history for lower DeKalb and upper LaSalle Counties. Three rooms comprising some 5,000 square feet packed full of artifacts and antiques that could be featured on "Antiques Raodshow". One of the "must-sees" is a 32-round flitlock rifle reportedly presented to Chief Shabbona at the signing of the peace treaty at Prairie du Chien in 1829. A favorite of the youngsters to see while visiting the museum is a stuffed, two-headed calf.
Midwest Museum of Natural History
The mission of the Midwest Museum of Natural History is to encourage an appreciation of the world's diverse natural environment and human culture through exhibits and interactive learning experiences for children and adults. Offering a kid's play area with hands-on learning fun, a gift shop, national traveling exhibits, and world-renowned celebrities Ruud Kleinpaste, Jack Hanna and Jeff Corwin.