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WebsiteTake me there
Thanks to the Field Museum, you don't have to leave Chicago to visit an exotic place. The museum's nine acres of immersive exhibits transport visitors everywhere from the African savannah to Arctic glaciers. Family-friendly, interactive activities—plus the world's most complete T.rex skeleton, SUE—make this institution a Windy City must-see.
Best and Worst Times to Go to the Field Museum
If you're from out of state, avoid the Free Days, when residents of Illinois get into the museum for free—the place will be packed. If you're driving, you might also want to avoid visiting during a Bears game at nearby Soldier's Field, when all parking garages in Museum Campus raise their rates.
Must See at the Field Museum
It's hard to miss the imposing skeleton of SUE the T.rex when you enter the Field Museum's Great Hall. The most complete T.rex fossil in the world, SUE measures 42 feet long from nose to tail-tip. For more Cretaceous-era tidbits, check out Evolving Planet and the Dinosaur Hall nearby. Major SUE aficionados might also want to check out the accompanying 3D movie, Waking the T.rex: The Story of SUE.
Dioramas of taxidermied animals may seem old-fashioned, but the Field's are compelling enough to compete with the high-def videos of our digital age. Kids will ooh and ahh at frozen scenes of monkeys, bears, and lions in the World of Mammals exhibit. Afterwards, head downstairs to The Crown Family Play Lab to let kids do some hands-on exploring of everything from dino nests to traditional African drums.
Admission to the Field Museum
The museum offers three tiers of admission tickets. For less than $20, a Basic Pass gets you access to all the permanent exhibitions at the museum; for roughly $20-$25, a Discovery Pass rolls in a 3D movie or access to a ticketed exhibition. The All-Access Pass includes both a movie and ticketed exhibition, but runs to more than $30 for adults and $25 for kids.
Parking and Public Transportation to the Field Museum
The Field Museum shares parking facilities with the other institutions on Museum Campus, including the Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, and Soldier Field. Most garages and lots charge a flat fee of around $20 for four hours of parking, with additional charges for staying into the evening or overnight. As noted above, rates increase during Bears games and other events, so be sure to check Soldier Field's schedule of events.
On game days, public transportation might be a visitor's best bet. There's no El stop close to the Field Museum, but the #146 bus will get you there from downtown. From mid-May through Labor Day, the city also runs a special #130 bus to Museum Campus as well. Biking is another option: Museum Campus is an easy ride down the lakeshore bike path from downtown, and has several Divvy bike-share charging stations for those without their own rides.
Food at the Field Museum
Dining at the Field Museum is fairly affordable—a meal at either of its restaurants will run you less than $10. With its sleek bar and emphasis on local produce, the Field Bistro is the more adult-oriented of the two; its menu includes a build-your-own pasta station, paninis, and burgers made with pasture-raised beef. The more casual, kid-friendly Explorer's Cafe boasts cooked-to-order pizzas, salads, and hot sandwiches for adults, plus items like chicken fingers and grilled cheese for kids.
Insider Tip for Visitors to the Field Museum
The museum's exhibits on human civilizations often get less attention from guidebooks, which is a shame. If you have time, make sure to check out the Midwest's largest collection of mummies in Inside Ancient Egypt or take a walk through the colorful Africa exhibit.
Author's bio: Nathalie Lagerfeld is a Chicago-based writer and art nerd who previously blogged for the Groupon Guide to Chicago.