Chicago's suburbs aren't just for commuters. The towns that lie to the north, west, and south of the city are rich in history, culture, and outdoor activities. So add a day or two to your itinerary and get out of town for a concert, architecture tour, or zoo visit; the journey to the ’burbs is well worth the additional vacation time.
The suburbs closest to the city limits have excellent theaters and museums that rival their urban cousins. The farther away you go, the more likely you are to find the wooded parks and wider streets that characterize towns outside just about any major city. But Chicago's bedroom communities aren't mirror images of others that dot the map. Far from ho-hum, they are destinations in their own right. Brookfield and Lisle, to the west, have top-notch zoos and exquisite gardens; along the North Shore, Highland Park and Evanston attract talented musicians and house internationally acclaimed art collections; and Oak Park is so rich in architectural history that you can't help but wish you had more time to simply stay put.
Forget strip-mall fast food, too—it’s not uncommon to find decidedly urban types doing a reverse commute to visit a trendy new restaurant or ethnic eatery outside the city limits. With Chicago's bus and train system reaching some of the nearer ones, the trips are painless. In short, don't overlook the 'burbs when planning your Chicago trip. If you do, you'll miss out on some of the very best things the metropolitan area has to offer.