Chicago Museum of Science and Industry

This large, interactive museum contains a coal mine and World War II submarine among its many attractions.

It’s easy to spend an entire day exploring the Museum of Science and Industry, located in Hyde Park, just south of downtown. There are some 35,000 artifacts in this 14-acre (5.6-hectare) space. These aren’t your usual museum artifacts, either. See the Apollo 8 space craft (the first to take humans to the moon) and go subterranean in an underground replica of a coal mine. Get involved with hands-on science experiments, interactive digital displays and walk-in exhibits. The museum is designed to teach you about most every aspect of the world within you and around you, including the human body, transportation, technology, industry, and the weather.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the size of the museum, pay a little extra and take a guided tour. The WOW Tour lasts for an hour and takes visitors through the museum’s main attractions, including the coal mine, Boeing 727 airplane and Baby Chicks exhibit. (The Coal Mine is one of the museum’s “add-on” exhibits that you pay extra for when buying an admission ticket. Ask about other add-ons at the box office.)

The Baby Chicks exhibit lets you watch as chicks hatch from eggs. The Boeing 727 – an actual aircraft that you can climb aboard and explore – is one of the main attractions of the Transportation Gallery. You’ll also find a Steam 999 Locomotive, the Spirit of America (one of the fastest vehicles in the world), and dozens of smaller aircraft.

Continue your journey of learning with exhibits demonstrating how the Internet works, how toys are made and how the human heart beats. You can even create a mini tornado in The Science Storms exhibit. There’s a machine that produces lightning, another that demonstrates avalanches and one that let’s you create fireworks.

The museum is easily accessible by the ‘L’, bus or train, and parking is available for a fee.