Whether your family is into art and music or local history, there’s a gallery in the area dedicated to your interests. Check out these six must-visit museums near the vibrant city of South Barrington, Illinois.

Barrington History Museum

Nestled in a restored blacksmith shop on West Main Street, Barrington History Museum is a major local exhibit center. It features a seasonal, working blacksmith shop and two restored folk Victorian houses filled with artifacts. Head to the Old Barrington Center and browse the main gallery. It features the “Carl and Lily Tolpo Art Collection.” Get an intimate look at this talented family’s curated paintings, sketches, and sculptures.

Discover the vintage wedding dress exhibit with 15 pieces from the turn of the century to the 1950s. There’s also original equipment used by Barrington firefighters, as well as a large number of Autumn Leaf dishware as part of the new Jewell Tea exhibit. Even your toddler will love the “Children’s Toys through the Decades of the 20th Century” display. The Barrington History Museum is open Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m., or you can call the museum to make special arrangements during the week. The cost of admission is $5 for members and $10 for non-members.

Loyola University’s Cuneo Mansion and Gardens

If your family has a fascination for art, architecture, and history, then the Loyola at Cuneo Mansion and Gardens is a must-see for you. It proudly graces 100 breathtakingly landscaped acres on North Milwaukee Avenue in Vernon Hills. This 1916 historic Italianate mansion houses several stunning examples of fine art and period furnishings, including a 1920s Steinway piano and the family’s extensive silver collection. 

Take a self-guided tour of the house’s great hall, library, music room, chapel, and pavilion ballroom. Wander out to its formal gardens filled with several examples of neo-classic statuary and reflecting pond. This coveted spot is so striking, it was a filming location of the romantic comedy, “My Best Friend’s Wedding.” Explore this rose-colored villa most Fridays and Saturdays, from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. General admission is $10 cash for adults. Kids 12 and under are free, and so are active-duty military members.

My Museum

Kids from preschool to 8 years of age are going to love the admission-free My Museum. Located at East Northwest Highway in Palatine, its exhibits are designed to entertain and engage young minds. My Museum offers children the chance to embark on a magical journey while exploring the world around them through interactive exhibits and tons of social engagement. They can pretend to be a surgeon and an explorer or travel to the moon. Quest Academy’s dynamic art students created the displays at this one-of-a-kind gallery.

If you’re stuck indoors this season, check out its Facebook page for fun facts and daily “Ancient Scrolls.” Donations are welcome and help maintain My Museum’s operations. Check the website for current hours. However, the center is usually open for walk-ins on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to noon.

Place de la Musique

Located on Algonquin Road, Place de la Musique offers music lovers a unique looked into the past thanks to one of the world’s largest collections of antique instruments. It showcases music boxes, phonographs, and many other rare finds like the Sanfilippo Collection’s pipe organ. See some of the most beautiful glass-front orchestrions on display anywhere and stop to look at the stunning 1890s “Eden Palais” salon carousel.

The Place de la Musique is housed on the grounds of the Sanfilippo Estate. This private residence isn’t open to the general public except during frequent events such as the Annual Wurlitzer Christmas Concert and pre-arranged group tours with a donation.

Elgin Public Museum

One of the Wolly Mammoths at a museum in South Barrington, IL.

Image via Flickr by Patrick McNeil

This 100-year-old natural history and anthropology museum is located within Lords Park on Grand Boulevard in Elgin. The beautiful 108-acre grounds contain varied collections to pique your family’s interest. Animal buffs can view replicas of the mammals that roamed Illinois during the Ice Age, while rock hounds of all ages will enjoy the museum’s extensive exhibit of geodes.

Sign up for one of several programs for school-aged kids and adults, including anthropology courses like “Digging Up the Past: An Archeologist’s Day” for the kiddos and “Native Americans: One with the Land” for mom and dad. There are a variety of programs in zoology, botany, ecology, geology, and paleontology, too. The cost to get into the Elgin Public Museum is $2 for adults and just a buck for kids ages 3 to 12.

Elgin Fire Barn No. 5 Museum

If your family loves fire trucks and firefighting artifacts, Elgin Fire Barn No. 5 Museum offers one of the most profound assortments in the area. Situated at Saint Charles Street in a charming 1904 structure, it’s the town’s fifth official fire station. This nationally registered historical building even housed horses that pulled the firefighting carriage.

View an 1869 Silsby Steamer, a typical firefighter’s bunk room, and a 1900 hand-drawn chemical fire extinguisher. Relics from the Great Chicago are on display, and so are a variety of uniforms, bunker gear, and helmets. Do you have a boy or girl scout in the family? The Elgin Fire Barn offers overnight excursions at the museum, where they’ll learn basic first aid, build a first aid kit, and go on a scavenger hunt.

General admission is $2 for parents and $1 for kids over 5, or you can get a family membership for just 25 bucks. It’s currently open for private tours. Simply call and make advanced reservations to see this unique glimpse into local history. There’s also a small gift shop where you can pick up memorabilia and donate to the organization.

There you have it! These six awesome museums to visit near South Barrington, Illinois was brought to you by Crème de la Crème. Does your family have a must-see museum that inspires and excites you and the kids? Let us know so we can add it to our list.