Chicago History Museum Brings Chicago’s Past to Life

At the Chicago History Museum, the student becomes the teacher.

I have a tendency to pull my daughter’s leg when I can. Like any other Chicago-area elementary school student, she’s learned all about the city’s rich history. And she jumped at the chance to prove to me that Fort Dearborn wasn’t our nation’s first waterpark, and that Mrs. O’Leary’s cow wasn’t smoking a cigarette when it started the fire.

The Chicago History Museum proved a worthy trip downtown.

See: “Chicago: Crossroads of America” was the family favorite—very kid-friendly and lots of hands-on activity, including an “L” Car from the days of the Columbian Exposition, a locomotive, artifacts from the Great Fire and more. Kids and adults alike can learn more about the fire, the Haymarket Affair and the riots of 1968.

“Second to None” is a great visual reminder of the many innovations that came from Chicago, from architecture and science (the birth control pill!) to toys and more.

There’s also a very insightful Abraham Lincoln exhibit currently open to the public, which includes the bed on which the president died.

Skip: Unless you have very small children, you can probably blow right by the children’s gallery. The “Crossroads of America” exhibit has plenty of “touch this, listen to that” material to keep them entertained.

Tip: I wholeheartedly endorse a family membership. For $60, we now have year-long access to discounted parking near the museum, we received a beautiful coffee table book about the city, and we receive member rates on Chicago History Museum-sponsored events such as their famous historical pub crawls. Hello!

You can also make a day of it—take advantage of the museum parking ($9 for the day), enjoy a walk through Lincoln Park Zoo and grab an early dinner at R.J. Grunts.

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