One-track trips: Union Pacific West Line to Oak Park

The first suburban stop on the Union Pacific West line from Chicago is Oak Park. (WLS)
May 14, 2014 4:56:14 AM PDT
The first suburban stop on the Union Pacific West line from Chicago is Oak Park. This diverse community of 52,000 is best known for Frank Lloyd Wright architecture and its connection with Ernest Hemingway. It has become a destination, not just from Chicago, but from visitors all over the world.

The trip from Ogilvie Transportation Center to Oak Park is a quick 15 minutes. We met up with Rickshaw Rick, a local tour guide whose canopy came in handy during our rainy day visit.

A wealth of information, the Oak Park Visitor's Center has literature, gifts, furnishings, and jewelry. Our first stop is a tour of the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio built in 1889.

"They see the house where Frank Lloyd Wright and his wife lived, they raised six children in this house, eventually he started an architect practice in his home," said Laura Dodd, Frank Lloyd Wright Trust.

Oak Park has the largest concentration of Wright homes in the world, with house walks and tours throughout the year. On the literary side, Oak Park is where Ernest Hemingway was bornin 1899.

"This house had been turned into a two-flat for many years. When the foundation bought the house in the 1980s, we restored it to its 1890s glory," said John Berry, chairman, Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park.

Across the street, the Hemingway Museum is a collection of early writings, rare pictures and other memorabilia.

After all this walking around, time to take a break! I'm hungry, and it just so happens Lake Street has a whole bunch of restaurants. For Greek food, Papaspiros is just as warm and friendly and tasty as being in Greektown. Opa!

To the south, the Oak Park Art District on Harrison is nine blocks of galleries, boutiques and restaurants. It's an easy bike ride across town, and that works with Metra.

"On off-peak hours on weekdays, between rush hours, you can bring your bike along," said Meg Thomas-Reile, Metra.

While you're south, be sure to stop by the Oak Park Conservatory. Three showrooms feature lush tropical plants, desert habitat and the popular fern room, filled with colorful seasonal floral displays of spring.

Admission to the Oak Park Conservatory is free. If you take the up West Line farther out, it stops in Lombard, where Lilac Days continue through Saturday, and to Geneva, where their Gardenology Festival is this Saturday, Swedish days is Mid-June and the list goes on and on.

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