Reviews | Travels

Chicago Botanic Garden

February 21, 2017

I want to share one of my favorite places to visit.  Whenever my friends from out-of-town, out-of-state, or out-of-country come and visit me in Chicago, I like to take them to the Chicago Botanic Garden.  They have 385 acres of nature and you can literally spend the whole day here.  Best of all, admission is free!  The only catch is that you need to pay for parking and that can get expensive (up to $30 per car).

If you live nearby and plan to go often, I highly recommend paying for a membership.  I paid $180 for two years, and having gone more than six times in those two years, was completely worth it.

Benefits of Membership

  • Free parking for one car (you receive a sticker adhesive for your windshield and it holds a little chip that will communicate with the gatekeeper when you drive through the members only lane)
  • The members only car lane allows for much faster entrance into the parking lot, especially on the weekends
  • Free admission to 300 other U.S. botanic gardens (I am most interested in visiting the The Morton Arboretum as I’ve heard it’s got a great section for kids)
  • 10% discount at the gift shop, discount coupons for the café, and member discounts on the butterfly exhibit, model railroad garden, and tram tours

You get even more benefits if you pay for higher levels of membership, but it’s not worth it in my opinion.  I paid for membership because this was a place I could enjoy with a newborn.  Tackling this garden alone with a baby was rejuvenating, but also exhausting.  This place is huge.  You’re going to need that stroller.  I tried walking through once with a baby carrier and that trip just turned out to be a workout.

My Hit List

My favorite areas of the garden are the Enabling Garden, English Walled Garden, Fruit & Vegetable Garden, Heritage Garden, and The Crescent.  Also, look for the waterfalls on your way to the Japanese Garden.  If none of that matters, I say your visit should start clockwise from the entrance.  What is your favorite nature spot?

Contact Info

Chicago Botanic Garden
1000 Lake Cook Rd.
Glencoe, IL 60022
(847) 835-8215

  • Hi Paula– this sounds lovely. My daughter lived in Chicago (She’s up in Madison now) and one rainy day we visited a gorgeous public green house– amazing rooms of ferns, and all kinds of flowers. We loved the Chicago zoo too. It’s such a wonderful city. Fun to find your blog!

    • Paula

      Hi Rhonda! That sounds like a lovely memory. Are you talking about Lincoln Park Zoo? There’s a conservatory right next to one of the entrances, too, so that seems the most likely. It’s another one of my favorite places 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

      • Hi Paula– yes! It was Lincoln Park Zoo. We really loved Chicago– such a big impressive city (the architecture!!) and the people were also kind and friendly for a big city. Fun to talk with you… xo

        • Paula

          I’m glad you have great memories of Chicago! Hope you get a chance to visit again with your daughter.

          • That’s funny Paula– she moved to Madison and I went last week to see her!! I thought it would be a fun snowy trip– but it was in the 50’s all week!! No snow!! I’ll bet you had the same in Chicago, but I heard the snow is back! Stay warm!! xo

          • Paula

            I just read a report that says it’s the first time in recorded history where no snow was on the ground in Chicago for the months of January and February! I enjoy the warmer weather, but this wasn’t the Chicago winter I always knew.

          • Crazy Paula! Well, enjoy sweater weather while you can! xo

  • Also one of my favorite places. My sister in law loved it and lived nearby. We have a bench in her memory located there.

    • Paula

      Hi Tina! They opened up a new section last year. It’s the Regenstein Learning Campus and it brings a new feel to the Garden as a whole. I had the chance to check it out last year and while the rolling hills were a bit too steep for my tastes, my daughter loved it. I hope you are able to visit it again someday with your family.

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