Wildlife summer in the City
June 17, 2006 12:20 PM   Subscribe

What are great summertime biology-themed date/experience/outings based from the Chicagoland area? (Drivable okay)
posted by onalark to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Not quite sure what you're looking for, animals (zoology) or biology (which to me would be cells and solutions and science and whatnot):

Shedd Aquarium
Lincoln Park Zoo
Brookfield Zoo
Starved Rock State Park (look for the bald eagle tours)

Science-y stuff:
Museum of Science and Industry
Fermilab (not sure about public tours)
Argonne National Lab (ditto)

Environmental-y stuff:
Cook County Forest Preserves
DuPage County Forest Preserves
Will County Forest Preserves

And then of course, there's always the Taste of Chicago for watching the wildlife. ;-)

Farther afield, the Universities of Illinois (Urbana) and Wisconsin (Madison) have large agriculture departments, and are long-ish day-trips or overnighters.

Give more details about what you're looking for (animals? kid-oriented? bird-watching? natural goodness?) and I can probably come up with more ideas.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 1:30 PM on June 17, 2006

The Morton Arboretum is very nice and usually has some interesting stuff, including a really cool hedge maze. You can go for the botany and stay for a concert (for example, the Cowboy Junkies are playing in July for under $20.)
posted by macadamiaranch at 4:46 PM on June 17, 2006

fermilab runs an ask a scientist tour once per month, which you have to call to arrange. not really bio oriented, though. but you do get to see the accelerator (and maybe some actual acceleration) along with a nice lecture.

argonne national lab has a tour, but i haven't been on it. have to be 16 or 18.

the peggy noetbart museum in lincoln park has a big environmental area.

in dupage county, there is somewhat of a nature exhibit at fullersburg woods, near graue mill. also, there is the willowbrook wildlife center in glen ellyn, which rehabs wildlife. they have rehabed wildlife on display, as well as a nice learning center.

indiana dunes national lakeshore east of gary is nice--they also have a bit of a museum based on dune ecology. traffic will be hard from chicago due to construction.
posted by lester at 8:23 PM on June 17, 2006

oh, one more. try to see if canoe rentals are available for the nippersink canoe trail.
posted by lester at 8:25 PM on June 17, 2006

The South Shore train goes right through the dunes, with at least 2 stops.
posted by IndigoRain at 9:09 PM on June 17, 2006

SciTech, which is a hands-on science museum in Aurora.

Can't forget the Field Museum. I am surprised that hasn't been mentioned.

You can visit the Chicago Botanic Garden in the northern suburbs.

I went on a couple field trips to the Little Red Schoolhouse when I was younger, and that's pretty interesting.
posted by SisterHavana at 10:13 PM on June 17, 2006

Give more details about what you're looking for (animals? kid-oriented? bird-watching? natural goodness?) and I can probably come up with more ideas.

This would be for taking a female upperclassman Biology major out on a date, unfortunately probably with her friends. I like the arboretum suggestion so far, I'm definitely looking for something focused on biology or a specific subset of it, not reactor physics.
posted by onalark at 5:24 AM on June 18, 2006

Your question is still pretty vague. Is she in biology headed towards doctoring? If so, maybe the Museum of Surgical Science. The Notebaert Museum mentioned above would do if she's into general/animal biology. They have a butterfly sanctuary that is just about the coolest thing in the city.

Dinner and a movie? In addition to being a biology major, I'm guessing she's also a person. People like movies.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 6:04 AM on June 18, 2006

The Museum of Surgical Science is pretty lame, although I went there with my girlfriend early on in our relationship, and it didn't sour things any. It's a lot of dusty scalpels and trephanning kits.

Everything I'd recommend has been listed above. I've also heard that the Osaka Garden in Jackson Park is nice.
posted by MarkAnd at 6:45 AM on June 18, 2006

What about a tour of a candy-making factory? There are several big candy companies in the area. You'll have to verify if they offer tours.

Ferrara Pan Candy and Blommer Chocolate are two I know of off the top of my head. (You can smell Blommer's from much of the west loop. Ferrara is in the western suburbs.)

This Washington Post article discusses the decline of the candy industry in Chicago, but it mentions a few big names still in business.

The Candy Institute's page on Chicago candy companies (link is to google's cached page).
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:40 AM on June 18, 2006

Another idea is a winery or vineyard tour, especially if you can find a knowledgeable tour guide who can discuss the biology of wine-making.

Illinois Wineries
Michigan Wineries
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:43 AM on June 18, 2006

Hmm. That would be the chemistry of candy or wine-making, I guess. But, if she's into science, maybe it would be interesting.

I'll stop now...
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:46 AM on June 18, 2006

The Notebaert Museum sounds really cool. Turns out she's done most of the things listed above (not the museum), I'm trying to win points for being 'creative' by going on Metafilter and asking for help :)
posted by onalark at 1:05 PM on June 18, 2006

Oh yeah...Notebaert also has free parking. Free! In Lincoln Park no less. That'll win you some points.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 8:17 PM on June 18, 2006

Friends of the Chicago River is a nonprofit that, well, is all about preserving the Chicago River and surrounding habitats. They offer guided canoe tours, and depending on which one you take you might find it hard to believe that you're still in the city.

Fermilab also has a prairie restoration project with a small herd of bison. In addition to that, the campus also has a rather nice concert venue and art collection (yeah, we're talking about the same location as the particle accelerator). Personally, I'd be pretty impressed if a date said "okay, today we're going to the place where they discovered the top quark, to see a prairie restoration with a herd of bison. After that, we have tickets to see Funkadesi."
posted by penchant at 9:54 PM on June 18, 2006

Oh, one more thing: though it's a while off, every year Northwestern's Eberhard Zwergel does a Halloween chemistry show that is quite popular.
posted by penchant at 9:59 PM on June 18, 2006

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