The Chicago Botanic Garden is a fabulous place to visit with kids. We love the Morton Arboretum and the memberships are reciprocal, so we thought it was about time to get there and explore all that the Garden has to offer. During our first visit, I have to admit, I was disappointed with the amount of things they had for my children to do. It seemed that around every corner they were stepping on precious plants or running away from me on hills where I couldn’t get my stroller. After hearing from a friend that they love the garden, I decided I better give it another chance.
On our next visit, we explored a little more and found many more child-friendly areas and it has since become one of our favorite destinations. With each visit we find a new hidden garden to adore. We have loved getting to know the Chicago Botanic Garden and look forward to finding more adventures with each of our visits. Because we struggled on our first visit, I want to highlight our favorite gardens for your littles to enjoy.
We always stroll through the Bonsai Collection to get to the Model Railroad Garden. The kids are always amazed at the tiny trees-they’re just too cute! This time, we even saw one with tiny blooms that made it look like a mini orange tree.
Children’s Growing Garden
While we have not yet visited the Children’s Growing Garden, it is on our list of priorities for our next visit. There are drop-in classes offered and children can physically take part in the gardening process. There are even wheelchair accessible gardening areas to explore. What’s not to love there?
The Cove is another area which I am eagerly looking forward to exploring. It is an aquatic area that children are able to explore.
English Walled Garden
Ahhh, the English Walled Garden. When I am in this area of the garden, I feel like I am in a fairytale it is so beautiful.
You can’t miss this beautiful waterspout once you enter through the Visitor’s Center. We always stop and get a picture here because it’s just that beautiful! Sometimes, that picture requires a bribe of Pirate’s Booty.
The Japanese Garden is a gorgeous place to take a stroll and soak in the sights with your kids hanging out in the stroller. They might not love it as much as you, but it is worth seeing.
Model Railroad Garden
We love the Model Railroad Garden. This is probably the star of our visits, at least for the kids. It is an adorable small-scale model of many of the different landmarks throughout the United States. Your little train lover can see a circus train, Thomas & Percy, The White House, Seattle, Mount Rushmore, and many more tiny scenes. We, personally, love to see Comiskey and Wrigley Field (and argue over which is better-Wrigley is clearly better) and wait for Mount St. Helens to erupt. Don’t miss this part of the garden, especially at Christmastime when it decorated for the season!
Nature Play Garden
Can you believe that on our first visit, we didn’t even know this area existed? Since discovering the Nature Play Garden, we have grown to love the Chicago Botanic Garden even more! This is a magical area of the garden designed just for little ones. Within this area, you will find rolling, soft hills inviting your little ones to roll and run upon them. Additionally, there are boulders to climb and streams to explore. We just can’t get enough of this place! Within this area, you will also find the Butterflies and Blooms exhibit which allows you to gain an up close and personal experience with thousands of butterflies (there is an additional fee for Butterlies and Blooms).
This is a beautiful stop on your tour of the Botanic Garden. You and your children will both enjoy the 5,000 blooming roses. However, the show stopper for your kids will absolutely be the fountain in the Rose Garden. It is stunning and makes for a refreshing stop on a hot day.
I could have stayed at Waterfall Gardens all day. There is just something about watching and listening to the water tumble over the rocks. It’s so soothing and has the ability to transport me to the wilderness, much further away than Glencoe.
Tips & Tricks:
- As always, I recommend a change of clothes! Maybe two!
- There is a beautiful cafeteria that overlooks the esplanade, but you cannot eat your picnic there. We haven’t utilized the cafeteria yet as we always bring our own lunch and eat in the Nature Play Garden.
- If you are a member at the Morton Arboretum, make sure you show your pass. The membership is reciprocal.
1000 Lake Cook Road
Glencoe, IL 60022
Admission is Free; however, you must pay for parking:
$25 per car on weekdays; $30 per car on weekends and federal holidays (includes tax)
$10 for senior citizens on Tuesdays (age 62+, includes tax)
$30 per van (includes tax)
$65 per limousine, minibus, bus & RV (includes tax)
Discounts apply for Cook County residents. The Garden reserves the right to ask for proof of residency upon entry.
Hours vary, but the garden is open 365 days/year. Please visit the Chicago Botanic Garden website for daily hours.
Which part of the Garden would you most like to visit?