5 things to love about Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

As a lifelong Chicagoan, my dad knows his way around the city better than GPS. We have always explored our town together, and since my son Isaiah came into the picture, our outings have taken a kid-friendly turn. We recently took a stroller brigade through the Chicago History Museum, and on our latest excursion, we decided to check out another interesting place nearby: The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. We had a blast there, so here are five reasons we loved it!

Convenient and (possibly) free

If you go

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

2430 N Cannon Dr., Chicago


As we considered which museum to visit, the biggies such as the Museum of Science and Industry and The Field Museum seemed a bit daunting. Maybe one day I’ll follow in the footsteps of fellow blogger Keely Flynn and spend a night at The Field with Isaiah, but baby steps, right? I digress. Back to the Notebaert Nature Museum.

It was easy to get to from the north via iconic Lake Shore Drive. I dropped off my little guy and his grandpa and found free street parking that is available along Cannon and Stockton drives. Speaking of free, the Kids Museum Passport, available through the Chicago Public Library, covered admission for our multi-generational crew. Once inside, the women’s bathroom near the entrance had a sitting area that could be great for a quiet feeding.

Dive right into nature

The main level had unique opportunities for kiddos to learn about our incredible world. RiverWorks, an interactive exhibit, makes a splash by showing kids how the waterways work. I was able to show Isaiah turtles at the Istock Family Look-in Lab and then he even petted the fur of the massive polar bear mount!

Learn and play at the newest exhibit

Our House: Rethinking Home in a Changing Climate, which opened on March 25, was awesome even for the museum’s littlest patrons like Isaiah. It was ideal for him to get the wiggles out after being cooped up in a stroller for a while. The exhibit teaches people about how home building impacts the environment and hits the right notes for little ones.

From stuffed animals and a coloring station to Legos and touch screens, there are ways for kids of all ages to have fun. The large blocks that represent how different activities cause greenhouse gases were perfect for Isaiah. Did he get the greenhouse gas part? No way! He’s one! But he had a great time, and my dad and I learned a thing or two along the way.

Take in the glorious butterfly ball

Seeing a flurry of butterflies–apparently there are 1,000 in the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven–was surreal and awe-inspiring. It wasn’t too crowded and museum staff person said that weekday afternoons between 2-5 p.m. are generally quieter for families at the Nature Museum, because visiting school groups are gone. Stroller-pushing parents, the baby’s ride is not allowed in the Haven, but schlepping all of your stuff from the stroller is worth the tranquility you’ll find amid the beautiful butterflies.

Get your yum on at the Green City Market

The Green City Market is a sprawling indoor/outdoor foodies’ paradise. I remember happily wandering from vendor to vendor in years past. I am a huge fan of farmer’s markets, and this one is the largest and most diverse that I have been to in Chicagoland. I can’t wait to return with Isaiah to pick out some of his favorites like sun-kissed strawberries.

We made some fun memories on our recent visit. There was plenty more we could have done and seen, but we had hankerings for good ol’ Chicago hot dogs, so we’ll have to pass the torch on to you. If you choose to spend some quality time at the Nature Museum, I hope you’ll find your own reasons to totally heart it.

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