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 Millennium Park
A first-time visit to Chicago isn't complete without a stop at Millennium Park. Situated in the Loop just north of the Art Institute of Chicago, this 24.5-acre space is used to showcase cutting-edge art, architecture and landscaping; it also acts as a backdrop for concerts and festivals. Most visitors come to Millennium Park to see the Crown Fountain and Cloud Gate, better known as "The Bean." Designed by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa, the Crown Fountain features two 50-foot towers that face each other at opposite ends of a shallow reflecting pool. The towers' LED screens project the faces of 1,000 different Chicago residents, which are perfectly aligned with spouts so that it appears they are spitting water on passersby. Cloud Gate – created by British artist Anish Kapoor – is a 110-ton bean-shaped sculpture forged from stainless steel. The Bean's elliptical shape reflects the Chicago skyline.
There are plenty of other reasons to visit Millennium Park: You can see a concert at the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion, stroll through the Lurie Garden or the Boeing Galleries (where contemporary sculpture is displayed outdoors), or sign up for a Segway tour at the McDonald's Cycle Center.
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