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If Disney were to make a purely educational theme park, it probably wouldn’t be too far off from the this humongous museum—the largest science museum in the Western Hemisphere—where exploring, playing, squealing, and climbing isn’t just encouraged, it’s practically required. Here, you can stand in front of a real German submarine that the U.S. Navy captured during World War II; watch a chick hatch from its egg; control a 40-foot tornado; and travel through an enormous digestive system. The five-story, domed Omnimax is also a cool spot for relaxing after all that hard work.

Not surprisingly, the museum is super tech-savvy, and in recent years it opened up the Wanger Family Fab Lab, where guests can explore their creative side and make anything from a t-shirt to a robot, using the different CAD work stations, electronics workshop, 3D printer, and other hardware and software. Check the website for upcoming workshops on laser cutting, 3D printing, sticker design, and more. The museum also recently created a number of fun games and apps, available on www.msichicago.org. Allow 3 hours.

The museum is a hike from downtown, but it’s easy to get to, with or without a car, or taking the bus or Metra (see below). If the weather’s nice, it’s just an 8- mile bike ride down the Lake Path to get to the museum.