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An Architectural Treasure

Frank Lloyd Wright spent the first 20 years of his career, from 1889 to 1909, in Oak Park. In the Frank Lloyd Wright District, dozens of private homes and several public structures display his distinctive Prairie School architecture. A guided walking tour highlights significant sites, including the architect’s home and studio and the Unity Temple, a National Historic Landmark that recently underwent a restoration that cost $25 million U.S. dollars. The Wright Plus Housewalk in May offers a rare chance to see interiors of privately owned Wright-designed homes. Architecture fans will also enjoy exploring the Gunderson District, the Ridgeland-Oak Park Historic District, George W. Maher’s Pleasant Home and the neighboring town of Riverside, designed by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted and home to more than 70 notable designs from 20th-century architects.

 

A Hemingway History

Pulitzer- and Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway is usually associated with Cuba, Spain or Key West, but he was born in Oak Park in 1899. His birthplace, a circa 1890 Queen Anne-style home, was the first in town to have electricity. After serving as a rental property for 80 years, the house was meticulously restored to its original beauty by the Ernest Hemingway Foundation. A tour of his birthplace is a must when visiting Oak Park.

 

Family Appeal

Traveling with younger ones in tow? Not a problem. Take the crew to the Brookfield Zoo to see everything from penguins to pythons and polar bears. There are also evening concerts in the summer. Escape to the tropics any time of year – for free – at the Oak Park Conservatory indoor botanical gardens. See native animals and hike in the woods at the Hal Tyrrell Trailside Museum of Natural History, which also offers free admission. Enjoy hands-on exhibits and play areas at Wonder Works Children’s Museum. The Galloping Ghost Arcade lays claim to the largest video arcade in the USA. Relive your childhood playing 600 games spanning from the 1970s through the 2000s.

 

Tempting Food and Drink

Whatever your appetite craves, you’ll find it in Oak Park’s diverse eateries. A few must-try spots include deep-dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s, bold Latin fusion at Maya Del Sol, French cuisine at Hemmingway’s Bistro, Moroccan and Lebanese fare at Grape Leaves Restaurant, Greek dishes at Papaspiros and updated Italian classics at Cucina Paradiso. May through August, downtown Oak Park’s Thursday Night Out offers discounted dining and free concerts. Thirsty? Order a craft brew at Oak Park Brewing or Kinslahger Brewing Company, or sample small-batch spirits at Quincy Street Distillery in Riverside. The honey- and persimmon-infused whiskey is especially tasty.

Fun Fact

A Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building in Oak Park, Illinois
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Oak Park is home to more Frank Lloyd Wright-designed structures than anywhere else in the world.

Photo: Visit Oak Park

Exterior of the Hemingway Home in Oak Park, Illinois
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Notable people born in Oak Park include writers Ernest Hemingway and Edgar Rice Burroughs, actress Betty White, McDonald’s restaurant owner Ray Kroc, and Dan Castellaneta, the voice of TV’s Homer Simpson.

Photo: Visit Oak Park

Interior of Grace Episcopal Church in Oak Park, Illinois
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The church scene in the 1990 “Home Alone” movie was filmed at Grace Episcopal Church in Oak Park.

Photo: Visit Oak Park

Father and son enjoying nature in Brookfield, Illinois
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Nearby Experiences
Village of Brookfield

Upcoming events

Old-fashioned sleigh rides for the holiday season in Oak Park
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Event

Home for the Holidays

December

Live music performances in restaurants during Jazz Thaw
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Event

Jazz Thaw

March

Browsing the wares during Riverside Arts Weekend
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Toasting with friends at the Uncork Illinois wine event
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Event

Uncork Illinois

June

Micro Brew Review, a zero-waste craft beer festival each August
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Event

Micro Brew Review

August

Running for prizes at the annual Casket Races in Forest Park
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Pouring samples of beers from Old Irving Brewing Co.
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Event

Oak Park on Tap

November