Hailed as the "granddaddy of Northwest Indiana's haunted attractions" by the Post-Tribune, Reapers Realm Haunted Attractions terrifies guests every Halloween season with multiple haunted sites. Most of its frights lurk within the three floors of a 1920s-era stone mansion. There, fog makes it tricky to see where demented demons lie in wait, and strobe lights illuminate famous movie monsters such as Michael Myers reenacting classic scenes of carnage.
More creepy creatures populate the Reaped Woods, where, in the past, a corn maze has hosted sights nearly as frightening as a scarecrow stuffed with old SAT scantrons. At the aptly named Carnevil, the screams echoing from the rides aren't just screams of delight.
In 1903, Hammond’s first mayor, Marcus M. Towle, opened the Towle Opera House to provide the city with a venue for theatrical productions. Times changed, and with them the theater: the opera house became a cinema, and eventually a string of fashion shops moved into the space. The building seemed destined for a future of holographic retail, but in 2003—a century since the stage first opened—it was reborn as the Towle Theater. Since then, its intimate brick-lined confines have hosted such crowd-pleasing productions as The Musical of Musicals, the Musical and A New Brain.
The Illinois Theatre Center enthralls audiences with a wide range of theatrical performances that range from offbeat musicals to retellings of classic dramas. The Spitfire Grill, a musical adaptation of director Lee David Zlotoff's award-winning film, revisits the tale of a young woman recently released from prison who gets a second lease on life and a studio apartment. Wistful comedy Heroes centers on the lives of three war veterans living in an old folks' home who spend their final days reminiscing about ration-packet picnics. All performances are held in an intimate 179-person theater.
After health, the most important thing parents want for their children is a good education, and that means learning inside the classroom and out. But if learning becomes simply memorizing facts in a textbook, it quickly turns into a chore, leading kids to lives of mindless entertainment and ignoring the last 12 mystery ingredients on junk-food labels.
To combat this, The Children’s Museum in Oak Lawn introduces children to the arts, sciences, and industry with a series of engaging exhibits that uphold the standards set by the Illinois State Board of Education. These exhibits occupy every inch of their two-story facility, giving kids hands-on experience with concepts such as cause and effect, gravity, and motion. Painting and dress-up theaters cultivate healthy imaginations, and the infant tummy-time zone allows even the tiniest guests to flex their neck muscles and reach stuffed-animal friends. In addition to daily visitors, The Children’s Museum in Oak Lawn welcomes school field trips and family birthday parties.
At The Arthouse, mother-and-daughter artisans Heather and Janice Finney flatter artwork with expertly crafted frames and preserve cherished objects in customized memory boxes. More than 100 types of frames entice brush strokes to take up residence between their borders alongside a plethora of color, mat, and glass options. Enhance a 4" x 6" headshot of your child-star hamster with an 8" x 10" frame and a standard 2-inch mat ($69–$195), or buff up an artistic masterpiece in a 32" x 40" frame with a 2-inch mat ($278–$613). Heather and Janice’s specialty shadow boxes ($300+) display valuable photographs and mementos in personalized packages that protect them from light exposure and the enchanted curses of their original owners.
Today, millions of people live and thrive among the streets and skyscrapers of Chicago, but at one time the bustling metropolis had only one resident—namely, the city's apocryphal, somewhat legendary founder, Jean Baptist Point DuSable. A Haitian of French and African descent, DuSable was the first of Chicago's great African Americans, a company that includes the city's first black mayor, Harold Washington. In one of the DuSable Museum's standing exhibits, the Thomas Miller mosaics, portraits of DuSable and Washington peer out along with eight of the founding members of the museum—a constellation of lodestars reminding visitors to maintain Chicago's diverse heritage.
While the mosaics incorporate the museum's own story, other exhibits examine African American achievements of all kinds. Red, White, Blue & Black, for instance, examines the contributions of black men and women in the armed forces, while voices from the past sing out in Spread the Word! The Evolution of Gospel, a survey of Chicago-based gospel greats such as Mahalia Jackson and Thomas Dorsey. In A Slow Walk to Greatness: The Harold Washington Story, visitors explore the nuances of the momentous campaign through memorabilia and more than 150 mayoral artifacts. An animatronic likeness of Mayor Washington himself even steps in to relay stories and first-hand accounts made possible by animatronic robots' ability to travel through time. In addition to the permanent exhibits, the museum also hosts musical performance, film festivals, and book signings that introduce members to more aspects of African American history, including the scholars who continue to uncover it.