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Chicago History Museum

Take a stroll through time, with historical artifacts that explore the city’s rich and colorful history.

The 150-year-old Chicago History Museum features a mix of artifacts, hands-on exhibits and multi-media presentations that present a thorough overview of Chicago’s history. Stroll through the two floors and learn about everything from the Great Fire of 1871, to women’s suffrage, to the modern-day cultural scene. The bed Abraham Lincoln died on is here. You’ll also find ‘L’ Car No. 1, the first carriage from Chicago’s train system, built in 1892.

This museum has been at the south end of Lincoln Park since 1932, after the previous location was destroyed by fire. There are five permanent exhibitions and a rotating calendar of temporary collections. The popular exhibition Chicago: Crossroads of America is where you’ll find the “L” Car No. 1, preserved in its original condition. Examine objects from people’s homes that were burnt during the Great Fire of 1871.  The museum also has a wheel from the Eastland ship, which sunk in 1915 and killed more than 800 people, as well as a collection of Frank Lloyd Wright designed memorabilia. Every object has detailed explanations. 

The hands-on Sensing Chicago exhibition is designed with families in mind. Try  catching a fly ball at a mock baseball stadium and ride a penny-farthing. The Treasures exhibit showcases old-style cars and the bed Abraham Lincoln died in.

The Facing Freedom exhibition portrays the stories of various struggles for freedom throughout Chicago’s history through an interesting array of photographs and artifacts

Check the Museum website before visiting and leave plenty of time to explore any temporary exhibitions. If you want a more thorough overview, there are guided tours and audio tours, both free with admission.

It’s easy to reach the museum via car or public transport, and parking is readily available. The on-site café serves light lunch, such as salads and sandwiches, an all-day breakfast, and coffee and sweets. Pick up a Chicago-themed souvenir from the gift shop, including books and toys.

For more details on interesting local attractions and activities, check out our things to do in Chicago page.


Guide to Exploring around Chicago History Museum


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Lodging Near Chicago History Museum

See all 468 Hotels near Chicago History Museum
$119
Hyatt Regency Chicago

Hyatt Regency Chicago

151 East Wacker Dr, Chicago
4.4
of 5, from 8,912 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

This Magnificent Mile hotel is located among Chicago's world-class shopping, restaurants and attractions. The Navy Pier, Millennium Park and Art Institute are less than a mile away.

$76
The Whitehall Hotel

The Whitehall Hotel

105 E Delaware Pl, Chicago
4.1
of 5, from 7,338 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

Built in 1927, this Chicago hotel is one block from Michigan Avenue shopping and Rush Street restaurants and nightlife; Lake Michigan is within five blocks.

$89
Millennium Knickerbocker Chicago

Millennium Knickerbocker Chicago

163 East Walton Place, Chicago
4.3
of 5, from 5,488 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

This 1927 landmark Chicago hotel is a half block from Michigan Avenue/Magnificent Mile shopping, two blocks from Oak Street shopping and Water Tower Place. Lake Michigan is three blocks away.

$98
Kinzie Hotel

Kinzie Hotel

20 W Kinzie St, Chicago
4.5
of 5, from 3,892 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

Within 2 blocks of Chicago's Magnificent Mile and the theater district, the Kinzie Hotel is located in the convenient River North district, a mile from the Hancock Tower and Lake Michigan.

$99
Palmer House a Hilton Hotel

Palmer House a Hilton Hotel

17 E Monroe St, Chicago
4.2
of 5, from 9,736 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

This 1925 Beaux Arts-style Chicago hotel is steps from Millennium Park, 2 blocks from Macy's and the Art Institute, and 1 mile from Lake Michigan, Magnificent Mile shopping, and Wrigley Tower.

$98
Ambassador Chicago

Ambassador Chicago

1301 N State Pkwy, Chicago
4.2
of 5, from 1,598 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

Ambassador Chicago's Gold Coast location is within a short walk or cab ride to the finest shopping and dining as well as the majority of downtown Chicago businesses, while being nestled in a quiet and exclusive residential neighborhood.

$82
Hotel Felix Chicago

Hotel Felix Chicago

111 W Huron St, Chicago
4.1
of 5, from 3,507 reviews
4.5 out of 5.0

Hotel Felix Chicago is 5 blocks from the Magnificent Mile, one of America’s most dazzling thoroughfares. It’s a 7-minute cab ride to the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel, whose 40 gondolas command unmatched skyline and lake views. Chicago-Red Metro Station is a 6-minute walk from the hotel.

$125
The Westin Michigan Avenue Chicago

The Westin Michigan Avenue Chicago

909 North Michigan Ave, Chicago
4.2
of 5, from 2,097 reviews
5.0 out of 5.0

Set in the heart of North Michigan Avenue shopping, this 27-story Chicago Westin hotel is across from the John Hancock Center, a block from Water Tower Place, and 2 blocks from Lake Michigan.