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.

Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum – Rockford

The Tinker cottage, gardens, and three-story Swiss-inspired barn was built by businessman Robert Tinker in 1865. Flash forward to today, when you can witness its beauty and get a dose of local history. The charming cottage and over-the-top gardens have become one of Rockford’s most popular attractions. The Victorian-era decor and unique architecture will satisfy the curiosity of the parents. As for the kids, they'll have a blast romping through the iris, rose and prairie gardens as the weather warms.

411 Kent St.
Hours: Guided tours held Tues.-Sun., 1 & 3 p.m.


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

— Amy Bizzarri & Jenny Muslin