Model of Dinosaur Skeleton

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Field Museum of Natural History

Top choice in Chicago

The Field Museum houses some 30 million artifacts and includes everything but the kitchen sink – beetles, mummies, gemstones, Bushman the stuffed ape – all tended by a slew of PhD-wielding scientists, as the Field remains an active research institution. The collection's rock star is Sue, the largest Tyrannosaurus rex yet discovered. She even gets her own gift shop. Special exhibits, such as the 3-D movie, cost extra.

Other highlights include 'Inside Ancient Egypt,' a burial chamber reproduction that contains 23 real mummies; the Hall of Gems; and the Northwest Coast and Arctic Peoples' totem pole collection.

The museum is vast, so get a map at the desk and make a plan of attack.