Newberry Library

in Gold Coast

The Newberry's public galleries are a treat for bibliophiles: those who swoon over original Thomas Paine pamphlets about the French Revolution, or get weak-kneed seeing Thomas Jefferson's copy of the History of the Expedition under Captains Lewis and Clark (with margin notes!). Intriguing exhibits rotate yellowed manuscripts and tattered 1st editions from the library's extensive collection. The on-site bookstore is tops for Chicago-themed titles. Free tours of the impressive building take place at 3pm Thursday and 10:30am Saturday.

The building's upper floors house the library itself (open 9am to 5pm Tuesday to Friday, and to 1pm Saturday), stacked with books, maps, photographs and other humanities-related materials. Those trying to research far-flung branches of their family tree will have a field day with the extensive genealogy section.

Entry requires a library card, but one-day passes are available for curious browsers. Once inside, you can pester the patient librarians with requests for help in tracking down all manner of historical ephemera.