Write “Chicago Botanic Garden” on your summer fun list

When my husband Walter and I were dating he drove a stick shift Volkswagen GTI, which I affectionately called ”Little Red.” We were always doing something fun together and even kept a handwritten fun list in Little Red’s trusty glove compartment!  

Little Red passed on to CarMax heaven long ago, and these days we explore in a silver hybrid Subaru. The best part is that our toddler Isaiah comes along for the ride! I am bringing things full circle this summer and brainstorming a new family fun list.

Biking to the Chicago Botanic Garden with our son in an orange bugaboo baby mobile tops our list. Without further ado, I’d like to share why the Chicago Botanic Garden deserves a place on your list, too!  

Getting there is half the fun  

Biking to the Chicago Botanic Garden can be quite an adventure! Check out this map to plan your family’s trek. Getting to the Garden this way will be a great way to bond as a family and enjoy the journey just as much as the destination. Plus biking is ideal for your family budget as there are fees for parking, but admission is free otherwise.  

Another way to mix things up would be to take the Metra. If your family is used to jetting around town in a car, the train ride could give you a much-needed breather. The Union Pacific North Line to the Braeside Metra train station will get you near the Garden. There are a couple of options to get from the station to the Garden, so be sure to check the Garden’s website for more details. Bonus: Metra lets kids ride free during the summer!

If you stick with the tried-and-true method of packing the crew in the car, a Kids Museum Passport, available through the Chicago Public Library, can cut the price of parking in half.  

Let the good times roll (literally if you are pushing a stroller) 

We visited the Garden last summer when my son was just a few months old. Our group included beloved out-of-town guests and my parents: Our whole multigenerational group loved the Garden! For the most part, I navigated easily with my son’s stroller, but a few places did not allow baby wheels. We visited during the Kite Festival, and I savored the sight of brightly colored creations sailing in the wind above the water. This year the Kite Festival is slated for August 12-13.  

All parents could use a little more calm in life, right? Enter the serene Japanese Garden. The 17-acre lakeside garden will put you in a peaceful mood to equip you with patience for toddler wrangling or challenges that come with parenting kids of all ages.  Beyond the beauty of the Japanese Garden, families can enjoy hands-on activities there as well.  

The Nature Play Garden is a newer space, which features rolling hills, a willow tunnel and boulders for climbing. My son is super active, so I am looking forward to getting a ton of his wiggles out in this area.  

We rounded out our last visit to the Garden on a very sweet note by slowing way down to smell the blooms at the Krasberg Rose Garden, and I highly recommend making this beautiful place part of your family’s time.  

I can’t wait to check a trip to the Garden off of our family fun list again this season and hope you’ll plant some new family memories there, too!


If you go

Chicago Botanic Garden

1000 Lake Cook Road

Glencoe, IL 60022

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