Museum of Science and Industry#5 in Best Things To Do in Chicago
Chicago's extensive Museum of Science and Industry pays tribute to the city's innovative roots, showcasing more than 35,000 artifacts and a variety of hands-on exhibits meant to inspire creativity. The museum resides in the 14-acre former Palace of Fine Arts, which hosted the famous World's Columbian Exposition in 1893. The fair brought together some of the world's greatest scientific minds, including Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla, who at the time were competing to prove which type of electricity – direct current or alternating current – was more effective.
You can learn more about the "war of the currents" and a variety of other topics inside the museum. Displays here cater to all types of curious minds: Enjoy a tour of the only U-505 German submarine captured during World War II; explore distant stars and planets at the Henry Crown Space Center; and see baby chicks up close at the Baby Chicks Hatchery. The Museum of Science and Industry also features an Omnimax Theater and hosts a variety of live demonstrations.
Though this museum is a bit removed from downtown (about 9 miles south of the Loop), visitors say making the trek to the Museum of Science and Industry is worth the inconvenience. You'll have plenty to see and do at this museum, but to make the most of your visit, recent travelers recommend paying extra for special exhibits like the interactive Coal Mine or Future Energy Chicago, which encourages visitors to reinvent Chicago's energy infrastructure.
Located in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago's South Side, the Museum of Science and Industry is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (Limited hours apply for select dates, so be sure to check the museum's website before visiting.) General admission is $21.95 ($19.95 if purchased in advance online) for adults and $12.95 ($10.95 if purchased in advance online) for children ages 3 to 11, but if you've purchased a Go Chicago Card or a Chicago CityPASS, your entrance fee will be covered. Access to special exhibits and the Omnimax Theater will cost extra. No direct L route is available to the museum, but travelers can take bus Nos. 2 or 6 to the area. The 55th - 56th - 57th Street Metra station sits about two blocks away, or visitors can drive and park in the museum's underground garage for $22 per vehicle. All ticket holders have access to property facilities like restrooms, gift shops, a food court, an ice cream parlor and a photo studio.
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#1 Grant Park and Buckingham Fountain
Often referred to as "Chicago's front yard," Grant Park is a 319-acre swath of green space that starts at the eastern edge of the Loop and stretches down to the northern fringes of the Near South Side. First-time visitors should plan on spending a fair amount of time in Grant Park: This is where you'll find several of Chicago's most popular things to do, including The Field Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago and Shedd Aquarium. (Millennium Park also rubs elbows with the northwest corner of Grant Park.) Baseball diamonds, flower gardens, walking paths and wide-open grassy terrain are available as well.
At the heart of Grant Park is Buckingham Fountain. One of the largest fountains in the world, this tiered water feature boasts 133 jets that shoot water as high as 150 feet into the air during 20-minute choreographed displays (which take place every hour on the hour between 9 a.m. and 10:35 p.m. from April to October). At night, the fountain's performance is accompanied by lights and music.
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