Just west of downtown Chicago, the Village of Oak Park is alive with architectural and literary history. The quaint town offers plenty for art and history buffs to absorb along with many unique shops and galleries. Begin at the Visit Oak Park office on Lake Street for free shopping and dining information and to purchase a self-guided walking tour map of the area’s historic homes.
Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio
In this modest family home, Frank Lloyd Wright experimented with design concepts and developed his unique and influential architectural style. In the beautifully-appointed adjacent studio, Wright and his employees created plans for many of the enduring treasures of American architecture. Guided tours of the home and studio are conducted daily. Reservations are recommended.
Oak Park could be called Frank Lloyd Wright life-sized classroom with the largest collection of Wright-designed buildings anywhere in the US. Explore the Historic District surrounding the Home and Studio at your own pace on a self-guided audio tour available at the Home and Studio gift shop.
Ernest Hemingway Birthplace and Museum
Hemmingway was born in 1899 in a stately Queen Anne house built by his maternal grandparents. Here he spent his first six years, forming the very foundation of his childhood experience. The recently restored home is open for public tours and the nearby Hemmingway Museum offers further insight into the full life of the Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winning author.
Garfield Park Conservatory
Though not technically in Oak Park, the Garfield Park Conservatory is so close it’s an easy addition to an Oak Park itinerary. Featuring six greenhouses and two exhibition halls, the conservatory and grounds offer a broad horticultural education in one place. Special exhibits change seasonally. The conservatory is free to the public, but donations are appreciated.
Kinslahger Brewing Company
Oak Park’s coolest new attraction is the prohibition-era-inspired tap room of the town’s very first mirco-brewery. (I know, I’m as surprised as you that this is the only one.) The sleek space was designed by our friends at Yearbook Studios and feels like stepping into a hidden speakeasy of the past. Open from 3 – 10 pm Wednesday through Friday with longer day-drinking options on weekends.
Lake Street Kitchen & Bar
A WoodStone oven is the centerpiece of this cozy Oak Park fixture. Customers may select bar seating, friendly community tables, or cozier private tables. Salads, sandwiches and flatbreads are all delicious and the service is knowledgeable and friendly.
Sugar Fixe Patisserie
Enjoy heavenly European-style pastries in this charming neighborhood shop. Locals know that Oak Park’s best croissants can be found here along with beautifully designed cakes, tarts and cupcakes. Worth every calorie.
Sugar Cup Trading
New and mint condition recycled children’s clothing, accessories and toys fill the shelves of this fun, colorful shop. The proprietors carefully curate the brands offered to ensure that high-quality, on-trend selections are always available.
Have you ever found a shop that makes you feel like you just stepped into one of your own Pinterest boards? Like this one, or this one? Maybe even this one. Vintage academic and industrial finds, warm interior accessories, and private-label products make it well-worth a short walk from the heart of Oak Park to nearby Madison Street for a visit.
This article appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of Lakeshore Magazine. Subscribe HERE.
Click the cover image above to read the full issue.