Wheaton, Illinois is situated west from Chicago. It’s mainly known for Wheaton College, which features the Billy Graham Center on American evangelism. For a visitor, however, the town is also known for its beautiful parks and enriching museums. Read on to learn about the best things to do in the area!
1. Find something for every interest at Cantigny Park
Cantigny Park is a must-see destination that will please everyone’s interests. Whether you’re trying to spend 30 minutes or several hours, the park is large enough so that you can pick a spot or peruse the entire area. Furthermore, the gardens can be great for a leisurely stroll while the nature trails are better for those trying to stay active. If you’re wanting to learn something new, you can also head to the Robert R. McCormick Museum or First Division Museum.
Address: 1 S 151 Winfield Road, Wheaton, IL 60189
Website: Cantigny Park
2. Amaze your family at the Cosley Zoo
The Cosley Zoo in Wheaton offers a thoroughly educational and entertaining day for you and your whole family. The zoo is five acres (two hectares) of both farm and Illinois-native animals that you can view in their natural habitats. The animals include white-tailed deer, red foxes, bobcats, a coyote and much more. The zoo also allows visitors to view live feedings and experience some up-close animal encounters. The zoo’s hours range throughout the year, and tickets are 7 USD for nonresidential adults and 6 USD for nonresidential seniors over the age of 55.
Address: 1356 North Gary Ave., Wheaton, IL 60187
Website: Cosley Zoo
3. Explore the Morton Arboretum
The Morton Arboretum was dubbed a “great outdoor museum of trees” by its founder. If that doesn’t sound appealing to you, know that it’s a beautiful green space that’s 1,700 acres (688 hectares) large and holds more than 222,000 live plants. In addition to proving a beautiful space for picnicking, walking and exploring, the arboretum also hosts different events, like painting and origami for kids as well as biking and hiking days. The arboretum is open every day from 7 am to 7:30 pm, and admission is 14 USD for adults, 12 USD for seniors and 9 USD for children.
Address: 4100 IL-53, Lisle, IL 60532
Website: Morton Arboretum
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4. Learn about the infantry at the First Division Museum
As mentioned previously, Cantigny Park has much more to offer than your average park. The First Division Museum is located directly inside the park and offers a series of exhibits on classic war machinery, including guns, tanks and vehicles. The museum also has a special bookstore with both books and videos that are actually published by the museum. Note that the museum is closed for a redesign until August 26, 2017, but its regular hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm. The museum is free, but parking costs within the park.
First Division Museum
Address: 1s151 Winfield Road, Wheaton, IL 60189
Website: First Division Museum
5. Pretend you’re abroad at the Wheaton French Market
The Wheaton French Market is held every Saturday from April to November. From 8 am to 2 pm, you can stroll along the town’s main drag and peruse the different French and French-inspired flowers, produce, jewelry, crafts and other foods. Admission to the market is free, but individual vendors have different prices for their products.
Wheaton French Market
Address: Main Street & Liberty Drive
Website: Wheaton French Market
6. Enjoy the lake at Blackwell Forest Preserve
Since there’s already so much nature to see whilst in Wheaton, Blackwell certainly has its own unique offering. While you can do the usual hiking, picnicking and camping, the lake also provides water recreation such as fishing and boating. Blackwell also provides something not commonly seen at most preserves - an archery range. Targets are sold for 6.50 USD, and the range is open every day. There’s also an off-the-leash dog area so that your furry friend will also be able to enjoy the nature. The park is free and open daily from one hour after the sunrise until one hour before the sunset.
Blackwell Forest Preserve
Address: Butterfield Rd, Warrenville, IL 60555
Website: Blackwell Forest Preserve
7. Visit the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College
One of the things that Wheaton is best-known for is its private, christian Wheaton College. The college has been ranked in the U.S. News and World Report for its liberal arts undergraduate program, and draws 2,400 students each year. The Billy Graham Center is dedicated to one of the college’s most notable alumni, Billy Graham, who is also joined by the likes of notable graduates Wes Craven, John Piper and Rob Bell. The Graham Center states that it is “committed to helping Christ-followers to show and share the love of Jesus in a broken world.” The center offers resources for the Wheaton campus and its students, but also offers trainings in churches, classrooms and conference settings. The center also publishes training tools and mentorship programs that are all aimed at spreading evangelical christianity. The museum inside the center is open from 10 am to 5 pm from Monday through Friday, and allows visitors to see Billy Graham’s history and work.
Billy Graham Center
Address: 500 College Ave, Wheaton, IL 60187
Website: Billy Graham Center
Explore all that Wheaton has to offer
The town of Wheaton, Illinois may be overshadowed by its neighbor Chicago, but the town does deserve a lot of credit for its nature and fun things to do. Visitors can enjoy many different gardens, parks and preserves where you’re bound to see an abundance of wildlife. You can also just head to the zoo and enjoy some of Illinois’ native species. Furthermore, there are many museums in the area to ensure your brain stays exercised throughout your vacation.
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