Ailsa’s Travel Theme challenge at Where’s my backpack http://wp.me/1TBKq this week is ‘Parks.’  There are several parks in our area that are adequate for taking a walk or just sitting on a bench watching the ducks but for something more memorable we have to travel a little further afield.  Cantigny Park in Wheaton, Illinois is more than just a place to pass an hour or so.  It’s a park with a purpose!

This 500 acre park includes two museums, a golf course, formal gardens and a picnic area, all thanks to Joseph Medill and his grandson Colonel Robert R McCormick, former publishers of the Chicago Tribune.

McCormick saw action during World War I, fighting at the Battle of Cantigny and after returning home, renamed the estate in its honor. The First Division Museum has an impressive display of wartime memorabilia including several tanks which children seem to find irresistible. The McCormick Museum is contained within the family home and can be explored via a guided tour of this magnificent house.

The gardens are stunning and are usually the reason that I visit Cantigny at least once a year. They include the Formal Garden, the Rose Garden, the Idea Garden, the Prairie Savannah garden and Reflection Point. Each area is meticulously kept and well worth seeing at any time of year.

Apart from the picnic area, there are fine dining facilities at the visitor’s center so it’s quite easy to spend the day at Cantigny. There are educational programs for kids and adults and a year-round calender of special events including concerts, art fairs, car shows and a Revolutionary War Re-enactment. In fact, something for everyone!