Secret Gardens and “Detour” to Miller Beach

This weekend, we are offering a free package to the Miller Beach Secret Gardens Walk. This event is on July 14 and 15 ($10 value/ticket). Unlike our usual guided group tours of architecture, history, and culture, this excursion is one that you’ll experience independently. We’re giving away eight spots for the complimentary package for each date.

Miller Beach Tour Package Details

Miller Beach garden walk


Before we tell you how to get in on this, let’s explain what the package is. After registering with us for the complimentary “Detour,” you’ll take the 10:40am train from Millennium Station (or another station along the South Shore train, ticket on you) for the one-hour ride to Miller in Indiana. Chicago Detours guests will be welcomed at the station with a complimentary glass of champagne. Not too shabby, right?

Woodie Ayers RealtyExclusive to this fun package is a ride in a 1948 Ford Woodie. Yes, it’s an actual car made of wood, designed for the beach. Gene of Gene Ayers Realty has this classic car because his realtor father would drive people out to sandy lands to sell beachfront property decades ago. This classic car picks you up at the train station and whisks you away to the historic Aquatorium building on Miller Beach. At this point you’ll receive your free Garden Walk tickets (normally $10 per person), which includes transportation to nine home gardens normally not open to the public. And people in Miller are serious about their gardens.

I’m not the most domestic person, but I absolutely loved exploring the pristine and creatively landscaped yards on the “detour” last year . To cap off the afternoon, you’ll have time to visit the beautiful dunes and Miller Beach, which is surrounded by the Indiana National Lakeshore and has top-notch views of the Chicago skyline. I brought my suit last year and the beach was heaven – breezy, clean and not too crowded. You’ll get a ride back to the station for the 4:16pm train.

This free package includes:

  • Transportation to and from the Miller train station
  • Champagne
  • Optional independent visit to the Aquatorium (a historic bathhouse with a stunning view of the lake)
  • Garden Walk tickets with shuttles to gardens.

You only have to shell out the $12 round-trip South Shore train ticket. So would you like to come? Email the date (7/14 or 7/15) and total number in your party. Free package is limited to 8 spots per day to the first people to reserve.

Good luck and hope you can take advantage of this cool opportunity to escape from Chicago for an afternoon.

–Amanda Scotese, Executive Director


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There is no shortage of things to discover in Chicago—I love being an urban explorer and uncovering its hidden places. I have an MA in Public History from Loyola University Chicago, and I have worked as a museum educator and kindergarten teacher. My desire to learn new things fuels my passion for educating others, which I get to experience every day as a Chicago tour guide. I live in the northern neighborhood of Rogers Park.

“Our guide Ellen was exceptional and gifted with a great personal touch.”


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Whether you are a first-time visitor or a lifelong resident, the vibrant history and modern majesty of Chicago never ceases to amaze. I’m a graduate of Columbia College with an M.A. in Interdisciplinary Art. I’ve worked for many years as an educator at City Colleges of Chicago. As tour guide at Chicago Detours, I integrate my enthusiasm for culture and architecture with my passion as an educator. West Town/Noble Square area is home for me.

“Jen was a perfect storyteller and kept us spellbound for hours.”


Tour Guide

With our Chicago neighborhoods, vibrant cultural institutions and nearly two centuries of larger-than-life stories, there’s never a dull moment here! I’m a fifth generation Chicagoan and a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis. In addition to guiding tours, I’m a creative writer and amateur genealogist. I also enjoy the city’s dynamic theater scene. You can also read overlooked stories from 19th-century newspapers on my “Second Glance History” blog. I live in River North.


Tour Guide

Chicago is unique as it always evolves into the future while holding on to the past. I’m fascinated by how people latch on to old architecture but happily pave over others. My background is in theater and performance and I’ve been a tour guide here for more than 10 years. Currently I’m finishing my Master’s in Public History at Loyola University because I love to teach the history of this scrappy city. I’m in the Edgewater neighborhood.


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Chicago’s history is so fascinating, you could spend a lifetime uncovering its secrets…I’m willing to give it a try! I have an M.A. in US History from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and then pursued doctoral studies in Urban History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I love to learn new aspects of Chicago’s rich history and then share my knowledge as a tour guide with Chicago Detours. I live in Ravenswood.

“Marie was a bubbling fountain of information and contagious enthusiasm.”


Operations Coordinator and Tour Guide

As a fourth generation Chicagoan, I have been living and loving Chicago by bike, on foot, public transit or automobile. I am a graduate of UIC where through the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, began my eagerness to understand the nature, history and impacts of urban planning and development. It is incredibly rewarding to give back to this wonderful city by helping out in the office of Chicago Detours. I live in the incredibly diverse neighborhood of Albany Park.
“Sonny was extremely knowledgeable about all things Chi-town.”
Wade K


Content Manager and Tour Guide

Chicago has so many neighborhoods, buildings, and by-ways that it’s hard to go long without seeing something new, or something familiar from a new angle. I studied Cinema History for my M.A. from the University of Chicago. I’ve worked as a culture writer for various publications and as an educator of the humanities at the City Colleges of Chicago. I’m thrilled to share my love of this city’s busy past and unique architectural spaces with Chicago Detours. I live in the Chicago neighborhood of Lincoln Park.

“Alex was fascinating to listen to. He clearly knows his history and it shows.”
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Amanda Scotese

Executive Director and Tour Guide

I’m an interpreter of personal stories from the past and the city’s landscape. I love to imagine what originally happened inside old unmarked buildings, and what forces have shaped their design. I studied Chicago history, architectural history, and anything Chicago-related through my M.A. in the Humanities at the University of Chicago. My love for stories was enriched by my B.A. in Literature from the University of Michigan. I’ve written travel articles for publications like Rick Steves’ Italy best-selling travel guides, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and The Chicago Food Encyclopedia. I live in the Chicago neighborhood of West Avondale.
“You can TELL Amanda is hyper-passionate about doing the research and getting the story that nobody’s heard before.”
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