3 Chicago Botanic Garden
About 25 miles N of Chicago
The Botanic Garden is a favorite of Chicago families because it's only a short drive
from the city but it offers a welcome change of scenery. Even young children will
enjoy the room to run (or ride in a stroller) along scenic trails, interspersed with
waterfalls and fountains. Older kids can explore the fruit-and-vegetable garden (so
this is where bananas come from!) and gardens of animal-shaped topiaries.
BY CAR Take I-90 (Kennedy Expressway) to the Edens Expressway (I-94).
Go north 20 miles and continue north on Route 41 and exit on Lake Cook
Road. Turn right and go 1 ⁄ 2 -mile to the garden.
BY TRAIN You can take the Metra North Line ( & 312/322-6777; www.
metrarail.com) from Ogilvie Transportation Center at Madison and Canal streets
in Chicago to Glencoe. Connect to the 213 Pace Bus to reach the Botanic Garden.
TOURING THE GARDEN
Owned by the Forest Preserve District of Cook County and managed by the
110-year-old Chicago Horticultural Society, this living preserve includes eight
large lagoons and a variety of distinct botanical environments—from the Illinois
prairie to an English walled garden to a three-island Japanese garden. To keep
the visit manageable for kids, call ahead to find out what's blooming and grab a
map from the information desk when you arrive to pick the gardens your fam-
ily most wants to see. A tram tour lets kids cover more ground without getting
tired, which is a real possibility in this 385-acre garden.
Also on the grounds are a large fruit-and-vegetable garden, an Enabling Gar-
den (which shows how gardening can be adapted for people with disabilities),
and a 100-acre old-growth oak woodland. The living collections are composed
of more than 1.2 million plants, representing 7,000 plant types. If you're here in
the summer, don't miss the extensive rose gardens (just follow the bridal parties
who flock here to get their pictures taken). The Botanic Garden also is home to
an exhibit hall, an auditorium, a museum, a library, education greenhouses, an
outdoor pavilion, a carillon, a cafe, a designated bike path, and a garden shop.
Carillon concerts are given on Monday evenings at 7pm from June 21 through
August 23, with a preliminary hour-long tour.
Every summer the Botanic Garden stages a special outdoor exhibition. One year,
giant animal-shaped topiaries were placed in unexpected locations throughout the
grounds; the next, model railroads wound through miniature versions of American
national parks. In winter the greenhouses are nice and warm, and your kids can
look for a Venus' flytrap, animal-shaped topiaries, and food trees such as banana
and coffee plants. Check the website or call to learn about upcoming events.
1000 Lake-Cook Rd. (just east of Edens Expwy./I-94), Glencoe. & 847/835-5440. www.chicago-botanic.org.
Free admission. Apr-Oct tram tours $5 adults, $4 seniors, $3 children 3-15. Daily 8am-sunset. Closed Dec 25.
WHERE TO EAT
The Garden Café, located within the Chicago Botanic Garden, serves soup,
sandwiches, and salads as well as kids' favorites, in a cafeteria-style setting. In the
summer you can sit on a patio overlooking water, and more outdoor tables sit
adjacent to the Rose Garden. It's open daily from 8am to 5pm.