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The Museum Campus and Lakefront

World-class museums, artwork and a beach
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 0.7 miles
Duration: Half day
Family Friendly

Overview:  Chicago's Museum Campus was created in 1998 when the northbound lanes of Lake Shore Drive were re-routed slightly west to make it... more »

Tips:  Although general admission tickets to each of the three museums are relatively affordable, if you want to see special exhibits or... more »

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Points of Interest

This world-class aquarium, the largest in the world, sits in the center of the Museum Campus at the edge of Lake Michigan.

The John G. Shedd Aquarium, which opened in 1930, today is home to more than 32,600 aquatic animals representing some 1,500 species of fish, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, birds and mammals from waters around the world.
... More

This venerable museum is home to Sue, the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton ever discovered. Her menacing pose greets visitors the minute they enter the museum.

If you're visiting with young children, look for the Crown Family PlayLab. This just-for-kids spot is included in the general admission price. It's a place where pint-sized... More

3. 'Olmec Head #8'

This is just one of many pieces of art interspersed throughout the museum campus. It is a replica of one of 17 known colossal heads created by the Olmec people who flourished in the Gulf region of Mexico from 1300 to 300 B.C.

Appropriately enough, it sits on the grounds of the Field Museum of Natural History.

4. 'Man with Fish' Sculpture

This fountain and sculpture by Stephan Balkenhol was installed outside the Shedd Aquarium in 2001.

5. 'Thaddeus Kosciuszko' Sculpture

This statue harkens back to Chicago's Polish roots. It honors Thaddeus Kosciuszko, who fought in the American Revolutionary War on the side of the colonists.

This statue was first dedicated in 1904 in Humboldt Park, a neighborhood on the Northwest Side of Chicago. It was moved to this spot and rededicated in 1978.

Another Polish war hero,... More

6. 'Karel Havlicek' Statue

This statue honors another major ethnic group in Chicago: Czechs.

Karel Havlicek was a Czech writer, poet, critic, political dissident, journalist and publisher.

This monument by Joseph Strachovsky shows Havlicek in a revolutionary pose, dressed in a full military uniform and a draped cape with his outstretched arm motioning the viewer to join... More

7. Great spot for a souvenier photo

Grab a passer-by, hand over your camera, then line the family up along the shoreline for a family portrait with Chicago's skyline in the background.

If you forgot the camera, at least take a few minutes to sit and gaze across the harbor at one of the world's most imposing and recognizable skylines.

The Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum was the first planetarium built in the Western Hemisphere and is the oldest in existence today. It was founded and built in 1930 by the philanthropist Max Adler.

There's plenty of cutting-edge technology to see, but don't discount an old favorite: the Atwood Sphere. Chicago's oldest planetarium, it was... More

Northerly Island is a 91-acre man-made peninsula. The nature center that occupies the space now had a controversial beginning.

The area was envisioned as a lakefront park in the original 1909 Plan for Chicago created by Daniel Burnham, but it was converted into a private airport in the 1940s. It remained an airport until one night in 2003 when... More

There's no need to walk down to Soldier Field unless it happens to be a Sunday in the fall and the Chicago Bears are playing at home. But it is worth a look in that direction to see the modern addition plopped on top of the century-old structure. The controversial design was dubbed the "toilet bowl" by a Chicago columnist; others suggested it... More

This public art installation by Magdalena Abakanowicz stands at the southwest corner of Michigan Avenue and Roosevelt Road, on the walk between the Museum Campus and the L platform. It consists of 106 headless figures, posed as if walking in multiple directions or standing still, frozen in time.

The city's public art guide says: "Each figure... More