When visiting the Chicago area, there’s more to see than just what’s downtown.

Out in DuPage County, just west of Chicago and the second most populous county in Illinois, there are plenty of attractions and sites to visit for anyone looking for a unique vacation or getaway while in Illinois or visiting Chicago. Which of the attractions in western suburbs are the ones you need to add to your list of places to visit? Here’s a look at six of the must-see attractions:

6. Graue Mill & Museum: There was a time when water-powered mills were used to grind corn into cornmeal. Bridging the past with the present, this still-functioning grist mill located in Oak Brook, IL, is an historic museum, showing how past residents of DuPage lived and functioned. The museum offers a look back at the past and even showcases how the western suburbs of Chicago became important destinations on the Underground Railroad. The Graue House is also preserved while the surrounding grounds offer lush landscaping. The museum and mill can be visited as an attraction for part of a day, or the grounds booked for events, too.

Address: 3800 York Rd, Oak Brook, IL 60523

Phone: (630) 655-2090

5. The Tivoli Theatre step back into a bygone era when large movie houses in every community were the norm. Modern movies in a classic cinema setting are what the Tivoli Theatre offers in Downers Grove. The theater was built in 1928 and the auditorium seats 1,012 people. Upgraded for a modern movie experience, the Tivoli offers a unique experience with a marquee set on the street, a single auditorium with detailed décor. You can smell the fresh popcorn in the lobby from the moment you get inside and the comfortable seating allow a full movie experience many in today’s world have never seen before.

Address: 5021 Highland Avenue, Downers Grove, IL 60515

Phone: (630) 968-0360

4. Oakbrook Center:  located just off of I-88, Oakbrook Center is anything but “just another mall.” Featuring an outdoor shopping experience, this is the second largest shopping mall in the Chicago metropolitan area, only surpassed by Woodfield in Schaumburg. Featuring a mix of high-end and mid-range stores, you can enjoy walks outside and enjoy the grounds as much as the stores. In fact, Oakbrook Center often schedules outdoor events for residents and visitors. Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom are just three of the key anchor stores for the mall. If shopping in downtown Chicago seems just a little too crowded, just 30 minutes away is Oakbrook Center, where you can shop, find great food, be entertained and even find activities for the kids.

Address: 100 Oakbrook Center, Oak Brook, IL  60523

Phone: (630) 573-0700

3. Cantigny Park:  it may be hard to find something Cantigny Park does not do than to list all the things this attraction located in Wheaton, IL, offers. 500 acres of beautifully landscaped property is a wonder to behold just for the amazing gardens and unique flowers alone. Cantigny, however, does not stop there. There’s the Robert R. McCormick Museum, which is a 35-room mansion right on the estate, and is now an historic museum. The First Division Museum is dedicated to the U.S. Army’s First Division of which Colonel McCormick was a member of during World War I. Artifacts from both world wars and the history of the division are on display. There’s a public park featuring shops and often outdoor events or films throughout the warmer months. This is also a popular place for outdoor events, reunions, picnics and weddings. Check out the Cantigny Golf Club, a public course that opened in 1989 and offers 27 scenic holes and was design by Robert Packard.

Address: 1 S. 151 Winfield Road, Wheaton, IL 60189

Phone: (630) 668-5161

2. Chicago Zoological Society’s Brookfield Zoo:  located on a 216-acre nature park, Brookfield Zoo is home to 2000+ animal residents and welcomes more than 2 million guests each year. In addition to being a leader in conservation and innovative animal care, the zoo is also an accredited arboretum. Brookfield Zoo cares for many different types of species with everything from big cats and giraffes to dolphins and penguins calling the Zoo home. Visit the park to take in all the sights or stop in for a daily “Dolphins in Action” show. The Zoo also offers kid-friendly animal interactions at the Hamill Family Play Zoo and Hamill Family Wild Encounters where visitors can touch and feed animals, including parakeets and goats. Plus, there are events throughout the year including ZooBrew, Summer Nights Concerts, Boo! At the Zoo, and Holiday Magic, which boasts over 1 million twinkling LED lights, a skating rink, and more.

Address: 8400 31st Street (1st Avenue and 31st Street), Brookfield, IL 60513

Phone: (708) 688-8000

1. The Morton Arboretum:  an outdoor museum, garden, library, herbarium and outdoor event location all in one, the Morton Arboretum is one of the premier attractions in the western suburbs. The entire area is more than 1,700 acres with cataloged version of trees, shrubs, flowers, plants, and gardens, including a preserved prairie area. There are more than 200,000 plants encompassing over 4,100 species of plants. During the Christmas holidays, the Arboretum is one of the most popular local attractions with a drive-through holiday display event featuring numerous Christmas trees, displays and music. The Arboretum is located right off of I-88 and was created back in 1922 by Joy Morton, the founder of Morton Salt. There are events, activities and exhibits for the entire family, plus outdoor concerts and events during the summer months.

Address: 4100 IL-53, Lisle, IL  60532

Phone: (630) 968-0074

DuPage County and Chicago’s Western Suburbs offer numerous attractions for tourists across the globe. Plus, the area offers miles of biking, walking, and running trails, beautiful forest preserves, lush parks, and cool places to kayak. DuPage is a great place to stay, as well, close enough to Chicago to give anyone that big city tourist experience, but also some of the more off-the-beaten-path attractions which are family friendly. Get started planning your visit today, explore nearby hotels and more recommended things to do.


Graue mill photo credit

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