Perhaps most famous for its 40-inch refracting telescope—the largest of its kind in the world—Yerkes was founded in 1897 by George Ellery Hale and financed by Charles T. Yerkes. On a tour of the observatory, visitors get a chance to enjoy the nightscape and then gaze up at the celestial bodies through one of the other two modern telescopes on the campus. The surrounding 77 acres of parkland, which narrowly escaped residential development in 2007, were designed by John
Olmsted, brother of Central Park landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted. Wear sensible shoes: The climb to the telescope is up a 39-step spiral staircase.