There are so many amazing opportunities to experience arts and culture in the Chicago suburbs.
By Danielle Braff
If you’ve seen Hamilton three times; if you have memberships to every art museum; if you believe that music education is essential learning…then these Illinois suburbs are your match.
We love Broadway as much as the next music nerd, but we have to admit: many of the performances at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie rival Chicago’s big-name theater productions. It’s a massive two-theater complex where you can catch musical theater, plays, concerts, comedies, dance and more. The Skokie park district also emphasizes the arts, offering classes in circus, cooking, dance, theater, art and music.
Oak Park/River Forest
We think we can agree that the arts are more important to Oak Parkers than sports. There are a handful of theater camps here, as well as after school theater activities and multiple opportunities for music.
There’s the Symphony of Oak Park and River Forest, which is made up primarily of retired Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians—many of whom live in the area. Dancers need not worry: the Academy of Movement and Music is an acclaimed spot for ballet—and it also offers a pre-school.
Oak Park and River Forest also have a Hemingway museum, they have plenty of Frank Lloyd Wright homes and they have an abundance of architectural tours. Just want to wander through the neighborhood? Oak Park has an entire district devoted to the arts, which is nine blocks long (on Harrison Street). It’s got local galleries, art classes and boutiques.
This western suburb has two art museums: the Elmhurst Art Museum and the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art. Let’s just say they take art seriously here. There’s even Art in the Park annually, where about 100 artists display their crafts. Elmhurst has an active Artists Guild, which supports local artists and those who want an arts education.
Home to the Ravinia Music Festival every summer, it’s packed with music-lovers who live here year-round just to avoid the annoying Ravinia parking situation (and yes, Ravinia is worth it). Highland Park has an annual fine arts festival, and art lovers can also visit the Art Center Highland Park year-round. Highland Park Strings performs frequently, and have been for the past 40 years.
Home to the Naperville Arts League, this is a non-profit offering classes for kids and adults. It also supports new and established local artists. The league hosts an annual Riverwalk Fine Arts Festival, where artists gather from all over the world here to compete and showcase their work. Residents in Naperville also appreciate the numerous art galleries scattered throughout the city.
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