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Wineries and More Await in Chicago and Its Suburbs

Lake Michigan Jewels

In the North Shore area, groups discover one of the premier tourist attractions in all of Chicagoland.

“The Chicago Botanic Garden is one of the top five most-visited botanic gardens in the country,” said Speckman. “While you can take a walking tour, most groups decide to take the tram tour to experience the 26 gardens.

“A Japanese garden on an island features an original teahouse brought from Japan, and a fruit-and-vegetable garden is where groups enjoy a Chicago chef cooking with the harvest. A carillon bell concert is offered every week. And if visiting in the winter, do not miss the festively lit Garden’s Wonderland Express, a miniature train exhibition that travels through a miniature version of Chicago with all the iconic buildings.”

Architecture buffs will be awed by the Baha’i House of Worship, the only one in North America and one of only seven in the world. With a dome rising 135 feet above the main floor and an auditorium with lacelike ornamentation, the temple is also known for its gardens and fountains.

“The temple is just one of our Jewels Along the Lakefront, which we feature on a tour” said Speckman. “Our most requested tour, Jewels showcases magnificent private homes that hug Lake Michigan. The tour also features the Spice House, where the owners share their expertise on hand-blended, ethnic, Chicago-neighborhood seasonings, and at the Great Harvest Restaurant, the owners make their own bread — [it’s] the best place ever to have a sandwich.”

A proud addition to the North Shore cultural community is the Illinois Holocaust Museum, the largest holocaust museum in the Midwest.

“Visitors learn about the timeline from prewar German life to eventual liberation and resettlement throughout the world,” Speckman said.

Nearby, groups can indulge in more wine and even some beer and hard liquor on an Evanston Grain, Grape and Still Tour, according to Gangolli.

“Once home to the Women’s Temperance Association, Evanston now has a small brewery and makers of small-batch gin and vodka,” he said.

The tour includes a catered lunch accompanied by Forty Winks wines, which are made from Michigan grapes.