Chicago, Illinois Attractions

Unusual landmarks, museums, roadside attractions, and hidden wonders in Chicago and the surrounding area.

If you come to Chicago to see Prohibition-era gangsters, you're 100 years too late, and the city seems unwilling to milk their memory for tourist gold (even though some bloody spots can be visited if you know where to look). Why dwell in the past, Chicago says, when it offers entertainment such as America's largest button museum, and the crazy cars of Larry Klairmont, and the crazy room of Henry Darger?

Downtown is the site of America's deadliest boat disaster (which had nothing to do with the weather) and a museum where you can look at human bodies sliced like luncheon meat (which had nothing to do with the Chicago mob). Nearby suburbs are surprisingly rich in oddities, so plan for excursions to places like America's only Puppet Opera, America's most haunted cemetery, and the nicest Tower of Pisa outside of Italy. There is a good ultraviolet rendering of The Apocalypse just across the Indiana state line. After that, drive to the north side to play mini-golf in a funeral home!

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  • Old Joliet Prison

    Old Joliet Prison

    Joliet, Illinois

    1858 prison, best known from the Blue Brothers movie as the jail where "Joliet Jake" was released, had many infamous inmates.

  • Busy Beaver Button Museum

    Busy Beaver Button Museum

    Chicago, Illinois

    Thousands of buttons used for promotion and political views, displayed in a business that makes buttons.

Sights for Oddball Excursions

  • Klairmont Kollections Museum

    Klairmont Kollections Museum

    Chicago, Illinois

    Rare and unusual cars and oddities, such as the electric chair from Sing-Sing. assembled by real estate millionaire Larry Klairmont.

  • Ultraviolet Apocalypse

    Ultraviolet Apocalypse

    Munster, Indiana

    Contemplation and surprises at the Carmelite Shrines, part of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Monastery.

  • Miniature Golf in a Funeral Home

    Miniature Golf in a Funeral Home

    Palatine, Illinois

    Funeral parlor owner's private basement mini-golf. Kids, keep the noise down during viewings!

  • Puppet Opera in Focus

    Puppet Opera in Focus

    Rolling Meadows, Illinois

    Puppets perform opera scenes and show tunes in their own custom theater. Backstage tour after each show.

  • Frankenmufflerman

    Frankenmufflerman

    Burbank, Illinois

    Frankenstein's Monster resembles a former Muffler Man, 20 feet tall, reworked into a smartly-dressed creature. Nonetheless he stretches our powers of creative categorization.

In and Around Chicago

Choice field reports and tips. Or check out: Complete list of Illinois attractions.

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