With nearly a dozen tanks in its Tank Park and a first-rate
military history museum, playing Army takes on a whole new
dimension at Cantigny Park in Wheaton. Although it is a bit of a
drive from the city, the $5 per car admission price sold us on
spending a day there.
Arranged in chronological order, the vehicles in the Tank Park
are massive machines that provide ample opportunity to climb and
pretend. Groups of kids had no trouble finding their footing and
shimmying onto the cannon-like guns. The most modern tank from
Operation Desert Storm even has some moving pieces on top. History
and military buffs will enjoy reading about each tank, but for the
kids it's mostly about the climbing. Be aware that the metal tanks
can get hot in the sun and climbing down can be treacherous, so
wear good shoes.
I feared a visit to the First Division Museum (which is free
once you're in Cantigny) would be boring for kids, but I was wrong.
This is a living, breathing experience of war history. Kids
literally climb into fox holes, use a periscope to watch
above-ground battles and walk the streets of the bombed out village
of Cantigny, France. They can lie down in a World War II-era bunk
and receive orders from their superiors. You will also visit the
jungles of Vietnam and sands of Iraq. Lifelike mannequins and
voice-overs throughout the tour lend authenticity to the sets and
In addition to military history, Cantigny offers tours of the
historic McCormick Museum mansion and boasts gorgeous year-round
gardens, picnic areas and even a playground. A restaurant and
coffee shop in the Visitors Center offer plenty of food, drink and
snack options if you don't want to bring your own.
Alena Murguia lives in Berwyn, Illinois along with her husband and three growing sons.
See more of Alena's stories here.
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