Now that you’ve been to the Museum of Science and Industry and The Field so many times you could lead a tour, it’s time to earn a little extra credit. When you’re craving something new and culture’s on the menu, check out a hidden gem museum that’s just a mini road trip away. We dug up 9 goodies that are within an hour’s drive of Chicago. Click through to see them all, from a secret nature center to an auto museum with superhero appeal.

Midwest Museum of Natural History – Sycamore

You’ll learn about nature and culture throughout the world while touring wildlife dioramas, hands-on exhibits and 100 mounted animals (including the largest African elephant in the country!). At the museum’s Urban Wildlife Observation Center, kids love watching the birds and squirrels through the garden’s large viewing windows. Venture toward the geology collection, hands-on Discovery Den and Field Station Exhibit where your little ones can peek through microscopes to view lion mane hair and python skin. The live animal exhibit is, not surprisingly, the most popular at the museum and where you can get close to live turtles, snakes, lizards, fish and more. Before you go, check the website for special events such as story times or snake feedings.

425 W. State St. (Route 64)
Sycamore
815-895-9777
Online: mmnh.org
Hours: Tues.-Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Admission: $8/adults; $5/children 2-12; free for ages 1 & under

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Do you have a favorite hidden gem museum? Tell us about it in the Comments!

— Amy Bizzarri & Jenny Muslin