With the travel restrictions to Europe (and most of the world) throughout this pandemic and the current travel restrictions and advisories to just about anywhere due to the increase in Covid-19 cases, we’ve decided to stay put for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We haven’t traveled at all this year, with the exception of a weekend trip to Mackinac Island. I have a serious case of wanderlust and miss traveling very much. But I’d rather have a case of wanderlust than a case of you know what.
Just in case you have that wanderlust too, I’m sharing four places in or near Chicago that you can visit and feel like you’ve taken a small trip to somewhere else.
All these places are outside, free, open to the public, and are normally not crowded. But please practice safe social distancing whenever possible and wear a mask when other people are around.
Baháʼí House of Worship
The Baháʼí Temple reminds me of somewhere in the Middle East or the Taj Majal in India. The gardens around the temple are beautifully designed with some water fountains to offer the feeling of peace and tranquility. Every angle of the temple from the gardens is just perfect. The temple was designed by French-Canadian architect Louis Bourgeois. To convey the Baháʼí principle of the unity of religion, Bourgeois incorporated a variety of religious architecture and symbols. Although the temple is currently closed due to Covid-19, the gardens are open to the public. We took a little trip to here in late summer and the boys absolutely loved running around the gardens.
Address: 100 Linden Ave, Wilmette, IL 60091
The Japanese Garden at Jackson Park
The Japanese Garden is located in Jackson Park near the Museum of Science and Industry and is also known as the Garden of the Phoenix or the Osaka Garden. This Japanese Garden has been around for over 100 years and is a hidden gem in Chicago. You really do feel like you’ve transported somewhere in Japan. According to the Chicago Park District’s description “This garden symbolizes the mutual respect and friendship that Japan and the United States initiated more than 120 years ago. In 1893, on Jackson Park’s Wooded Island, the Japanese Government built the Ho-o-den [Phoenix Temple] as its pavilion for the World’s Columbian Exposition.” It’s also a great place to visit for cherry blossoms in Chicago.
Address: 6300 South Cornell Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637
The Leaning Tower of Niles
The Leaning Tower of Niles is the probably the closest I’ll ever get to Pisa, Italy. It’s a replica and half the size of the Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy. You cannot enter the tower because it’s actually a water tower!
According to the Village of Niles’ website: “Robert Ilg, a successful businessman, built a 22-acre park, Ilgair Park, during the 1920s with two large outdoor pools, which needed to be supplied by a large outdoor water tank. Ilg was concerned about preserving the natural beauty of the area and decided to build a replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa to conceal the water tower.”
Address: 6300 W. Touhy Ave., Niles, IL 60714
Van Buren Metra Station
I’m a huge Francophile and this is one of my favorite places in Chicago – The Van Buren Metra Station. Why? Because the entrance to the station is a replica of a Hector Guimard-designed, Art Nouveau style Paris Metro entrance. The entrance was given to Chicago as a gift by the city of Paris in 2001. If you want to travel to Paris while in Chicago, check out my “Where to Find Paris in Chicago” post.