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Chicago Travel Guide

Chicago Outskirts

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, museums, and outdoor activities. 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 those additional vacation days.

The closest suburbs to the city limits are homes

to excellent theaters and museums that rival their city cousins. The farther out you go, the more likely you are to find wooded parks and wider streets that characterize the towns outside just about any major city. But Chicago's ’burbs are far from mirror images of others that dot the map. These bedroom communities are loaded with trip-worthy gems. 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 just 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 out to some of the nearer suburbs, the trips are painless. In short, don't overlook Chicago's suburbs when you plan a trip here. If you do, you'll surely be missing out on some of the very best things the metropolitan area has to offer.

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