Indoor Nature Centers for Kids in Chicagoland

These nature spots will help brighten up a dreary day!

As the weather starts to dip, you and the crew will need to find more indoor options. We all know that indoor play places are a blast, but sometimes we want spots where we can also be surrounded by nature but inside.

These Chicagoland places offer a great opportunity to enjoy flowers, plants and other types of nature indoors during the colder months. Plus, they’re still great to visit all year round! Here are some of our favorite indoor nature centers for Chicago kids.

Note: We’re updating our website as quickly as we can, but changes may occur due to COVID-19. Please double check before heading out for the most updated information on safety precautions, vaccine requirements and any last-minute cancellations.

Bird Haven Greenhouse & Conservatory

Located at Pilcher Park in Joliet, the Bird Haven Greenhouse & Conservatory is quite a hidden gem. Find beautiful flowers, plenty of greenery, bridges, waterfalls and the huge koi fish. If you’d like to add on a hike, Pilcher Park has plenty of hiking trails.

Garfield Park Conservatory

Peruse through the eight indoor gardens with plants from all over the world while taking in the beautiful flora including the fern room with waterfalls. The kids will no doubt want to stay awhile in the Elizabeth Morse Genius Children’s Garden where the giant vine welcomes little plant lovers. Reservations are recommended. Walkups allowed if space is available.

Judy Istock Butterfly Haven at Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Located inside one of our favorite nature museums, lies a 2,700-foot greenhouse. Not only can you enjoy the tropical temps at the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven, but you can be one with more than 1,000 butterflies as they flutter around you.

Lincoln Park Conservatory

Built during the 1890s, the historic conservatory is definitely an urban oasis. Step into a tropical retreat with many exotic plants from around the world. Take a tranquil stroll through four different houses including a palm house, fern room, orchid house, and show house. Pair this trip to the zoo and you’ve got a fun day out. Make sure to mark your calendars for their special events like their Winter and Spring Flower Shows.

Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center

The spacious nature center allows families to learn about the geological history of the area and see live animals such as turtles, snakes, and frogs. Kids will adore the indoor nature-themed play area. If you’re up to it, bundle up and explore the hiking trails.

Nicholas Conservatory

A trip to the Rockford institution is totally worth it as you spend time exploring the 11,000-square-foot facility, the third largest conservatory in Illinois. The indoor koi pond is sure to be a big hit with the kids. Pair this trip with any of the wonderful Rockford museums and you’ve got a great day out!

Oak Park Conservatory

Immerse yourself in lush foliage as you explore the conservatory’s three main rooms: a Mediterranean room, a tropical room and desert room. Keep your eyes peeled for the fish and turtles in the ponds. Don’t forget to say hello to the resident parrots!

Wilder Park Conservatory

Located in Wilder Park, the small one-room conservatory is perfect if you need a quick escape from the weather. They also hold a Holiday Flower Show and Spring Flower Show every year.


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