Cantigny in Wheaton, IL

Yesterday a group from our library visited Cantigny Park.  I’ve lived in Illinois all of my life and have never visited or even heard of this wonderful place.

The gardens are lush and beautiful.  It’s a mini version of Chicago Botanic Gardens although mini is perhaps the wrong word.  There is no feeling of “smallness” about the place.  There are several garden themes and the grounds provide enough plant variety to satisfy serious horticulturists and casual observers.  Still, exploring the park isn’t exhausting.

Tours of the mansion provide a half hour, 1-story view of the house replete with rich, historical information.  There is also an hour long version that provides access to the entire home.  (I’m planning on taking that tour for my next visit.)  After completing the half-hour tour I left with the thought, “Who knew???”  Such an interesting family lived there.  I was truly impressed with what I learned in that short, half-hour.

The military museum was superb!  Displays are kept in mint condition and updated as needed.  The museum could easily take a couple of hours to go through.  (That’ll happen on the next visit too.)

As for food…picnics are welcome but we opted for eating in the cafe.  I do hesitate to use the word ‘cafe’.  They offer a varied menu, reasonable prices and excellent service.  Among seven people we ordered a wide range of dishes and everything looked scrumptious.  Nobody had any complaints and the praise was high.  We even asked for the raspberry tea to be “not quite so sweet” and a special pitcher was concocted for us.

A last stop in the gift shop for tokens to remember the day, and dessert with my favorite coffee, Dowe Egbert, completed our day.

The people that work at Cantigny obviously enjoy what they do.  It’s evident from the beautiful gardens, clean and well-maintained buildings right through to the attention to detail of coffee brand.  For an inspiring, relaxing day that will long be remembered, Cantigny is the the place to visit.  I’m already anticipating my return trip.

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