Check out these unique destinations that reflect the genuine character of our region.
Kline Creek Farm
1N600 County Farm Road, West Chicago, (630) 876-5900, dupageforest.org
This marks the 25th year that this historic farm, located in the Timber Ridge Forest Preserve, has been serving DuPage County residents as a living history destination.
The Kline family settled the farm in 1837, and by the 1890s, it had grown to 200 acres. Descendants owned the property until 1965, when the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County took possession.
At the time, development of farmland was rampant, so the Forest Preserve District restored the farm and its buildings, in order to preserve the county’s rural heritage.
The farm has flower and vegetable gardens; an orchard of more than 40 apple, plum, pear and cherry trees; and an apiary with bees that pollinate the trees and yield honey that’s sold in the Timber Ridge Visitor Center.
Livestock include Percheron horses that pull plows and wagons, a small herd of cattle, flocks of chickens and sheep, and a clowder of friendly barn cats. Crops, which are rotated between corn, oats and soybeans, are planted and harvested by hand, just as they would have been in the 1890s.
The farmhouse, built in 1889, replaced the family’s original log cabin and features two kitchens, a large dining room, sitting room and bedrooms. Hourly tours led by costumed interpreters help to showcase the home’s many authentic antique appliances, furniture and decor for visitors.
More than 90 volunteers pitch in with caring for the animals, working the fields, tending the bees and leading tours. Visitors are treated to the spectacle of costumed volunteers shearing sheep, planting and harvesting, doing daily household chores, even playing games such as hoops, and are even given the chance to take part.
Open year-round, excluding holidays, the farmstead and visitor center are open Thu.-Mon. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is free.
David Adler Music and Arts Center
1700 N. Milwaukee Ave., Libertyville, (847) 367-0707, adlercenter.org
Born in Milwaukee in 1882, David Adler was one of the most important architects designing homes and estates in the U.S. during what was known as the “great American house” period. He attended Princeton University and studied in Europe, before partnering with Henry Dangler to open an architectural firm in Chicago in 1911.
Dangler introduced Adler to his future wife, Katherine Keith, whom he married in 1916. The couple resided in a Chicago townhouse, but purchased their country home in Libertyville in 1917, and settled into the 1864 farmhouse there. Katherine died in a car accident in Europe in 1930; Adler sold the townhouse and moved permanently to Libertyville.
Adler remodeled the farmhouse in 1918, and continued to make changes over the years, including building a garage in 1926, an addition which connected the servants’ cottage to the barn in 1934, and another in 1941 which connected it to the farmhouse. Also in 1941, he relocated a dining porch and converted the first-floor bedrooms in the servants’ cottage into a pantry and kitchen. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.
Adler died, peacefully in his sleep, in his house in 1949, and his sister, who lived in California, donated the estate to the Village of Libertyville, stipulating that it be used as a cultural center. Today, the center offers group and individual music and art lessons, hosts concerts and events year-round, and promotes the integration of music and the arts into everyday life.
Midwest Museum of Natural History
425 W. State St., Sycamore, (815) 895-9777, mmnh.org
This “Illinois Small Museum of the Year” houses impressive displays of mounted animals in their natural settings. One of the most striking is the trumpeting African elephant, which is so tall that its trunk extends through the ceiling. There are bobcats, caribou, bears, elk, moose, zebras, ostriches, buffaloes and much more. There’s also a movie theater with films on Illinois aquatic creatures, birds, trees and wild mammals.
The adventurous will want to visit the Discovery, with its many displays of fossils that visitors may touch. Kids can crawl through tunnels like an ant, count tree rings, dress for safari and more. It’s also the home of Hercules, the African spurred tortoise. Other live animals at the museum include tarantulas, scorpions, lizards, turtles and a boa constrictor.
Jack Hanna, the famous animal expert seen frequently on TV, has been a museum guest, as has “Animal Planet” star Jeff Corwin. The museum hosts many special after-school programs and activities, including a snake feeding on Tuesdays and live animal demonstrations on Fridays. Check the website for upcoming events.
Hours are Tues.-Sat. 10 a.m-5 p.m.