Hemingway Walking Tours Oak Park - Everything You Need to Know

History buffs often flock to Oak Park for Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture, but its lesser-known claim to fame is that Oak Park is the birthplace of Ernest Hemingway. While many associate Hemingway’s prose with his overseas escapades to Spain, Paris, Cuba and beyond, his first 20 years of life were spent right here in the heart of Oak Park.


The people and places in the Pulitzer Prize-winning author’s formative years deeply influenced his work. Get to know Hemingway’s story and see what life was like in early 20th century Oak Park with a walking tour offered by the Ernest Hemingway Birthplace Museum, titled Ernie’s Footsteps: A Walking Tour of Young Hemingway’s Oak Park. 

The tour is excellent for Hemingway enthusiasts, casual history fans or anyone looking to get their steps in! Nestled in the historic 1890s Hemingway District, you’ll begin the tour at Hemingway’s birthplace, now called the Birthplace Museum, a beautiful Queen Anne home where he lived for the first six years of his life before moving down the street. Strolling through the vibrant neighborhood of classic Victorian and Prairie-style homes is enough to leave you in awe. 

Let’s dive into the Hemingway walking tours and his mark in Oak Park. 

Hemingway Walking Tours
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The 90-minute outdoor walking tour explores young Hemingway’s connections to Oak Park. Beginning at the Birthplace Museum, the tour stops at Hemingway’s boyhood Home, his high school, Oak Park Public Library, Congregational Church and the WWI War memorial at Scoville Park.


The tour is led by the renowned Dr. Nancy Sindelar, an educator and author of “Influencing Hemingway: The People and Places that Shaped His Life and Work.” As a former English teacher at Hemingway’s alma mater, she had the pleasure of meeting some of his former teachers.


She traveled to France, Switzerland and Cuba to further her research and document Hemingway’s history. Nancy received her bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University, a master’s degree from DePaul University, a certificate of advanced studies from Concordia University and a doctor of philosophy degree from Loyola University of Chicago.


Walking Tours are offered at 10am on:


June 14 & 28,

July 26, 

August 9 & 23, 

September 6 & 20 


Booking Information


Advanced reservations are required. 


Tickets can be purchased online. 


$40 includes one copy of the book. You can add an additional person for $20 (no book included).


 Groups are limited to 15 people. 


You can add a birthplace tour (a 45-50 minute guided tour of the home) at 1 p.m. for an additional $10 each. 


Click here to learn more. 

Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum

If you’re looking to add a tour of the Ernest Hemingway Birthplace Museum to your day, here are a few things to know before you go!


The Birthplace Museum is located at 339 N. Oak Park Ave.. The house was purchased by the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park in 1992, and the foundation oversaw a major restoration to return the house to its original Victorian-era condition. It features exhibits showcasing Hemingway’s personal belongings, photographs and writings, offering insights into his formative years. In addition to the walking tours, visitors can take docent-guided tours of the Birthplace itself. Tours start at the top of each hour, run 45-50 minutes, with the last tour beginning at 4:00 pm. 


These tours are offered by appointment only—email or call (708) 445- 3071 with any questions.  


The Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park welcomes all guests, ensures that programs are accessible and encourages participation of the widest possible audience consistent with its mission and resources. The foundation will provide a waiver or reduction for individual or group admission or any specified services based on an ability to pay.


To learn more please contact



While You’re in Town
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The museum is centered in the Hemingway District, just one of Oak Park’s vibrant business districts with walkable shops and eateries. You can explore any of the local boutiques or grab a bite to eat at one of their incredible indie restaurants like:


Hemmingway's Bistro—Stay on theme with the tour by stopping at Hemmingway's Bistro, which features French dishes made with the freshest Midwest ingredients.

Courageous Bakery—For a small bite and a great latte, stop at Courageous Bakery and Cafe. There, you can find delicious breakfast entrees and pastries, lattes and teas, and, of course, their incredible cupcakes. 

Mulata Kitchen & Coffee—For a taste of Brazil, stop into Mulata Kitchen & Coffee to try their delicious sandwiches and handmade empanadas. These are filled with delicious ingredients like mushrooms, spinach, chicken, beef, or even guava for a sweet twist. 

Amerikas—Although Chef Gonzales roots his dishes in Latin American flavors, Amerikas is a new American restaurant that showcases the diverse flavors across the USA—with incredible entree, drink, and brunch menu options. 

Candycopia - If you're with the kids, you can't miss out on Candycopia - a women-owned, family-operated candy store designed to hit your sweet spot while celebrating small-batch, diverse-owned, and socially-responsible candy makers.


For More History


Architecture enthusiasts who want to continue their history lesson may want to plan a visit to the Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio, where Wright’s architectural revolution began, or the Cheney Mansion, a 1913 Tudor Revival now used for community and private events. The mansion’s expansive grounds and tranquil gardens can provide a place of rest and reflection after a fun-filled day of exploration. 


For more art and culture, head to the Oak Park Arts District, home to the chic galleries, quaint cafes and delicious restaurants. You may even find unique gifts and treasures at some of the local shops and thrift stores. 


Click here to learn more about things to do in Oak Park. 


Hemingway's History in Oak Park


Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899, to a prominent Oak Park family. His father was a physician, and his mother an opera singer and musician. Arts and education were the focus of his childhood. He was the second of six children, and the family lived with his maternal grandfather and namesake, Ernest Hall, a great storyteller who spent much of his time in the home’s library. 


Hemingway’s upbringing was affluent and full of opportunity. The Hemingway home was the first residence in Oak Park to have electricity, and his parents were particularly accomplished. While his mother left her opera career to have children, she taught music lessons in the parlor and was extremely well known. Her relationship with Hemingway was quite tumultuous at times, but her artistic influence on him and his work is clear. Her six children were each expected to play two instruments, and the family maintained a membership to the Art Institute of Chicago. The Hemingway's were devout protestants, and Ernest sang and played the cello at Sunday mass, albeit reluctantly. 


Perhaps most influential were Hemingway’s summers in northern Michigan. The family split time between Oak Park and their summer home called Windmere on Walloon Lake near Petoskey, Michigan. It was there where his father passed down his love of hunting and the outdoors, which remained Hemingway’s favorite pastimes throughout his life. His summers in northern Michigan are referenced in his musings about nature and the wilderness. Michigan, to him, represented fun and freedom.


Hemingway’s writing journey began at the Oak Park River Forest High School school newspaper. Shortly after, he began writing poems and short stories for the high school magazine. He excelled both academically and in sports, competing in boxing, track and field, water polo and football. After high school, Hemingway chose to forgo higher education, which caused friction with his academically focused parents. Instead, he began his writing career as a cub reporter for the Kansas City Star. His first trip overseas was as an ambulance driver in World War I, where he was injured. After which, he rarely returned to Oak Park, personally or in his writing.


Oak Park was an up-and-coming suburb for Chicago’s ambitious, wealthy residents. It was known as “a place where saloons end and churches begin.” This conservative environment with its emphasis on tradition and societal expectations often clashed with Hemingway’s adventurous and rebellious spirit, causing tension between Hemingway and his mother. 


It was during his time at the Kansas City Star that Hemingway developed his signature style of writing: short, succinct and full of plain everyday language. This was a stark contrast to the flowery language of the Victorian era and was seen as another act of rebellion against his privileged and polished upbringing. 


Hemingway is known as a man of action who traveled the globe in search of stories. While Oak Park is seldom specifically mentioned in his work, he often explores the contrast between small-town life and the wider world. 


Meet Us for a Tour


Whether you're a lover of literature or simply looking for a bit of education and exploration, the 90-minute walking tour through Hemingway's historic neighborhood is sure to leave you enlightened. You'll not only get a deep understanding of the foundation for Hemingway's work and the people and places that influenced him, but you'll also experience the rich history of Oak Park during the turn of the 20th century. Book a tour and embark on a literary adventure through Hemingway's hometown.