Image credit: Anne Swoboda
Whether you’re seeking shelter from the well-known blusters of The Windy City, or simply a little bit of solace from the hustle and bustle, an adventure into the Illinois outskirts won’t ever leave you wanting.
Architecture buffs will be well acquainted with Oak Park, as the Cook County suburb was once the home of the much lauded Frank Lloyd Wright. Many of his buildings – including Unity Temple, the Nathan G. Moore House and Wright’s own studio – and the creations of his protégé’ s (Cheney Mansion, for example) can be admired up close as you take a stroll around the small, but historically significant town.
Other famous residents of Oak Park have included Edgar Rice Burroughs (the man who brought Tarzan to life) and influential author Ernest Hemingway, whose childhood home has now been converted into a quaint museum for curious tourists.
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Temple
This beautiful and entirely unexpected edifice in the westward suburb of Bartlett may be a mouthful to say, but is also provides quite the eyeful. Built to ancient specifications laid out in the traditional Hindu text on temple design (The Shilpa Shastras), its striking attention to tiny Indian-inspired details and its magnificent marble construction certainly help it stand out against the rather more modern buildings that exist in this considerably conventional district.
As if to complete the overall effect of this small piece of India in Illinois, the mandir also features an adjoining wooden cultural centre known as a ‘haveli’. If a trip east is on your wish list, but a little too expensive as yet, this stunning house of worship may just tide you over until those pennies are saved.
Indiana Dunes State Park
With nearly 2,000 acres of historic Hoosier landscape to explore at your leisure, the tranquil topography of this stunning park will successfully help you escape the madder moments of city life.
Large sand dunes located beyond the shoreline of Lake Michigan have taken thousands of years to form and tower nearly 200 feet above the rippling waters. From the top of one of these natural wonders, you can witness sweeping panoramic views across The Prairie State.
This marvellous Midwestern community has more quirks than your typical suburban town, plus a plethora of shops, a cosy bookstore and the perfect hunger-plugging lunch spot in the form of La Petite Creperie.
The town square was famously featured in the Bill Murray masterpiece, Groundhog Day, and the annual festival featuring everyone’s favourite furball, Punxsutawney Phil, is still held annualy in February. Other great events here include the Woodstock Mozart Festival in early August and the fresh and frequent farmers markets.
1 hour 20 minutes
Black Point Estate
The Geneva Lake area in south-eastern Wisconsin has been an upscale resort since just after the Civil War and in the late 19th century, many wealthy Chicagoans built mansions on the shores here to enjoy as summer retreats.
Black Point Estate, completed in 1888, remains one of the finest examples of Queen Ann architecture in the Midwest and houses one of the most intact collections of Victorian furnishings in the region. The mansion counts both a four-storey crow’s nest and reclaimed brewery brickwork amongst its many intriguing features and its ample and beautiful grounds, which slope several feet down towards the lapping waters, make it a prime location for passing the hours.
1 hour 30 minutes