Whether you're looking to connect with nature, take a stroller stride, or are in search of a picturesque spot to take angelic photos of the kids, these botanic gardens and conservatories around Chicago won't disappoint! Here's a list of the most beautiful botanic gardens and conservatories for kids and families to take a walk in, play and enjoy.
Many Chicago-area gardens are open year round, and the glass ceiling of conservatories make them the ideal spot to enjoy that 'outdoor feel' in colder months. What are you waiting for? Get out (or in!) and explore!
Jackson Park - The Garden of the Phoenix
Gina I.: The Garden of the Phoenix (formerly Osaka Garden) is as picturesque as ever! Located in Jackson Park, this elegant Japanese Garden is a peaceful place to take a stroll or sit and relax.
Maggie Daley Park - Cancer Survivors' Garden
Gina I.: A hidden treasure in the heart of the city, the Cancer Survivors’ Garden is located on the east side of Maggie Daley Park. Designed as a celebration of life and hope, the garden features three main rooms that depict the three main states of healing: acceptance, support and celebration. The skyline to the west and the lake to the east makes this garden even more picturesque. Maggie Daley Park is also home to one the best playgrounds in the city! Slides, swings, rock climbing, mini-golf, bridges, tunnels, pirates ships, lighthouses, and more are all a part of the vicinity.
Millennium Park - Lurie Garden
Gina I.: Located in Millennium Park, Lurie Garden is 5-acre urban oasis of lush plants with maze-like features, peaceful water features and plenty of space to sit back and take it all in. Bring the kids and have fun identifying all the plant life. There are recurring art and sing-a-long events, too. Within steps of Lurie Garden is Maggie Daley Park, The Bean, and Crown Fountain. Crown Fountain is especially popular in the summer with ankle-high water to frolic through. Many restaurants are around the corner, too.
Lincoln Park Conservatory
Gina I.: From koi fish to tropical palms to ancient ferns, this conservatory houses both unique plants and grows thousands of plants used in local parks. Visit the Orchid Room featuring a gorgeous array of exotic blooms, and the live model train run that's set up during winter- when it's also toasty warm inside! The free Lincoln Park Zoo and Lily Pool are next door.
Garfield Park Conservatory
Shila: Stroll through acres of indoor and outdoor botanical gardens featuring plant species and landscapes from around the world. The perfect family activity in Chicago to get in touch with nature all year long.
Oak Park Conservatory
Gina I.: With three indoor conservatory showrooms: the Mediterranean room, Tropical room and Desert room, Oak Park Conservatory offers an impressive collection of flora and fauna. If you are looking for an in-depth guide of the various ecosystems represented, they also offer tours led by trained docents ($2-$5). Kid and family-friendly events occur frequently. Discover nature camps, seasonal markets, holiday parties, and an annual KidFest with educational activities, scavenger hunt, crafts and entertainment.
Chicago Botanic Garden
Gina I.: The Chicago Botanic Garden features walkable gardens and natural areas on 385 acres! Beautiful in every season, it's the perfect place to stroll around and spend the day.
Wilder Park Conservatory
Gina I.: For over 80 years the Wilder Park Conservatory has delighted Elmhurst residents and visitors from all over Chicagoland. Youth educational programs led by their in-house horticulturalist are available, and they offer flower shows throughout the year. Drop inside for a quick walk through nature and you'll be exposed to a gorgeous array of plants and flowers.
Friendship Park Conservatory
Gina I.: While it may lack the wow factor of the larger-sized conservatories, Friendship Park Conservatory is still an ideal place to spend a hour or two with the kids. The conservatory features a miniature train and koi pond, with lush gardens just outside. You can also catch outdoor educational and craft classes for children. Scouts can set up tours and earn badges and the conservatory has partnered with the University of Illinois to offer a Master Gardner Program for all ages.
The Morton Arboretum
Kristy Pepping: The trails at the Morton Arboretum wind through an amazing display of carefully cultivated trees and provide exceptional play areas that give kids a space to explore nature. The Children’s Garden is a fun outdoor playscape with scavenger hunts, tunnels, mazes and whimsical structures.
Cantigny Park Gardens
Gina I.: With 29 acres of plants, flowers, fountains, statues, and lush trees, Cantigny Park Gardens offer a stunning backdrop for family photos. But the garden is more than just a year-round feast for the eyes (and golf!). There are plenty of ideal spots for picnicking and great open spaces for little ones to play. Experiences enjoyed by children include recurring sing-a-longs, story times, hands-on crafts, movies in the park, the playground, a tank to climb, and even character brunches. Every Second Saturday is Family Day with fun activities to match.
Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens
Admission is $3 - $9 per person
Gina I.: Located along Rock River, Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens brings the tropics to Rockford! With an 11,000-square-foot exhibition area, it's the third largest conservatory in the state. Visitors love the peaceful water features, picturesque seating areas, and innovative sculptures, all in a tropical plant setting. Year-round fun include Tunes on the Terrace in the summer, and outdoor ice skating/hockey over the Eclipse Lagoon in the winter. Don't miss the tropical Butterfly Garden too.
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