A Little Time and a Keyboard: Afternoon in Oak Park, Illinois

Afternoon in Oak Park, Illinois

Monday, October 16, 2017

Family afternoon in Oak Park, Illinois

Afternoon in Oak Park, Illinois

We spent a recent Sunday afternoon checking out a few spots in Oak Park. Our first stop was to the Oak Park River Forest Museum which is housed in an historic 1898 Fire House. The historic brick building does have an inviting feel, welcoming visitors to learn about the area.

Oak Park River Forest Museum is housed in a historic Fire House

The museum encompasses two floors. The first floor contains interesting displays full of local artifacts from throughout the years. There are some larger pieces like this school bell and smaller pieces stored in glass cabinets. Visitors can go on a scavenger hunt for a little fun. Each section has descriptions about the items displayed that is readily available for interpretation.

Antique school bell at the Oak Park River Forest Museum
Pretty cool up close look at a school bell.

I particularly enjoyed checking out the old maps. They provide an understanding of how the neighboring communities are divided up.

I learned about organs that were made in the area. I had no idea and I love to learn the maker history of the area! Museums like this a great for familiarizing you with local history and learning how it developed through the years. It also gives you a basis for what the area is like today.

Antique organ made in the Oak Park area

I think my favorite find was the card catalog. My 12-year-old had never seen one before, so it was fun to so it to her. I do miss them, I must admit! On top of the card catalog, we spied a typewriter, adding machine, radio and a rotary phone (behind the adding machine.)

Nostalgic card catalog found at the Oak Park River Forest Museum

Also, there was a display on how the floor was restored from the original firehouse floor. Pretty cool that boards could be salvaged just be flipping them over.

Restoration of floorboards at a historic Fire House in Oak Park

Upstairs, we explored the museum's WWI exhibit honoring those who served from Oak Park, River Forest and surrounding areas. The museum has quite a few uniforms on display including a woman's WWI uniform. Women served as nurses and in office jobs.

Women's WWI uniform
Women's WWI uniform
We also found a children's area upstairs which combined exhibits of children's toys with hands-on experiences.

My husband and daughter got a little competitive. My daughter won!

Afterward, we ventured to the Oak Park Visitor Center to check out their items from area makers. I really think it is incredible that they have made an effort to showcase local makers. I hope more areas do this as well!

Then, we headed to Cafe Descartes just up the street for a little chai latte and coffee.

Followed by Sugar Fixe Patisserie for decadent baked goods.

Whenever we are in the area, we have to make a stop at the Oak Park Conservatory to soak up some tropical splendor! During our recent visit, the conservatory was decorated with Halloween ghosts and ghouls!

We enjoyed spotting the decorations interspersed in the foliage.

Halloween frights popping up at the Oak Park Conservatory

Of course, we still discovered moments of peace as well!

The Oak Park Conservatory provides a much needed nature walk no matter what the weather is like. It is always on our list in the winter!

Arid greenhouse at the Oak Park Conservatory
Arid greenhouse at the Oak Park Conservatory

We enjoyed our afternoon in Oak Park! There is much more to explore including the incredible Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio and many downtown shops. We visit a couple of times a year, so we will back before we know it!


  1. Looks like a neat place to explore! My husband wants one of those card catalogs in our home. I'm not sure what we would do with it but they do look neat.

    1. They are cool! I am sure there are some neat uses for them in the home. I, however, am not really gifted in creative repurposing. Lol! I really loved the female WWI uniform. My daughter is just of the age to learn about American history in depth so it was neat to learn about women in WWI with her.