Wander Through Chicagoland’s Most Beautiful Gardens

Appreciate the beauty of the season by bringing your family to these gorgeous gardens.

Chicagoland blooms with beauty in the spring. Appreciate the beauty of the season by taking a trip to a hidden rose garden, picking blooms at a flower farm or practicing the art of hanami — the Japanese tradition of enjoying the beauty of flowers — at a peaceful Japanese garden. 

Take an afternoon stroll through one of these local gardens, or plan a day trip to a scenic flower field that’s worth the drive. For more family activities this season, check out our guide to Things to Do with Kids this Spring in Chicagoland!

This article was recently updated on April 23, 2024 by Chicago Parent’s Audience Development Manager, Katina Beniaris. The update included her researching the latest information on the best gardens to visit with kids in Chicagoland. Questions? Please reach out to katina@chicagoparent.com.

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool
Photo credit: Chicago Park District

If the most well-known Lincoln Park Conservancy project is the Lincoln Park Conservatory, then the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool is its hidden gem. Tucked behind the Lincoln Park Zoo, the lily pond seamlessly blends classic Midwestern Prairie School architecture with the serene beauty of nature. This quiet hidden garden will make you forget you’re in a busy Chicago neighborhood! While you’re in the area, be sure to visit the gardens on the lawn of the Lincoln Park Conservatory. If time allows, take a stroll through the Conservatory; admission is free! 

Chicago Botanic Garden

Chicago Botanic Garden
Photo credit: Chicago Botanic Garden

Exploring all the beauty that Chicago Botanic Garden has to offer by foot may be a bit too intense for young kids. Luckily, you can take a tram tour of the most popular areas.

Make sure to stop at the Grunsfeld Children’s Growing Garden, a garden for family exploration and learning about where common household plants and vegetables come from. Your child’s favorite area will likely be the Nature Play Garden, a natural play space with rolling hills, tunnels and logs for hiding and climbing, and a natural amphitheater. 

Find more things to do with our family guide to Chicago Botanic Garden.

Fabyan Japanese Garden

Fabyan Japanese Garden
Photo credit: Preservation Partners of the Fox Valley

More than 100 years old, the Fabyan Japanese Garden originally belonged to property owners George and Nelle Fabyan. After attending the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the couple fell in love with Japanese culture and commissioned a landscape designer to create their very own serene garden. 

Today, the Forest Preserve District of Kane County maintains this beautiful park so visitors can enjoy the quiet landscape and beautiful flowers, and grow an appreciation for Japanese architecture, art and culture. Opens May 1, 2024!

Garden of the Phoenix in Jackson Park

Garden of the Phoenix in Jackson Park
Photo credit: Chicago Park District

The next garden on our list happens to be the very one that inspired the Fabyans to create their own Japanese garden. Also referred to as the Osaka Garden, this Japanese garden in Jackson Park is one of Chicago’s hidden gems. 

More than 130 years ago, the Japanese Government built the Phoenix Temple for the World’s Columbian Exposition and left it as a gift to Chicago once the fair ended. In 1930, the Chicago Park District restored the pavilion and added an extensive garden. 

Today, the garden celebrates its partnership with its Japanese sister city, Osaka, with gorgeous flowers and stunning cherry blossom trees. The sight of the cherry blossoms is so beautiful that the city tracks their progress beginning in mid-March — check to see if the cherry blossoms are in full bloom before you head to Jackson Park. 

Garfield Park Conservatory

Garfield Park Conservatory
Photo credit: Garfield Park Conservatory

The greenhouses at Garfield Conservatory are a go-to place for Chicagoans who need a bit of greenery and fresh air during the cold winter months, but did you know they have large outdoor gardens, too? 

Visit the City Garden, check out the rotating exhibits at the outdoor Artist Garden or explore at the Sensory Garden. Kids will love the Plant & Grow Garden, which includes a tree stump obstacle course and wooden musical instruments. 

Get more tips on visiting Garfield Park Conservatory with kids!

Grant Park Rose Gardens

Photo credit: Chicago Park District

Located to the north and south of the iconic Buckingham Fountain are two stunning rose gardens where gorgeous blooms meet stunning cityscape views. Take a stroll around the fountain to see what other hidden gardens you might find in Grant Park. 

The Morton Arboretum

Morton Arboretum
Photo credit: Morton Arboretum

With gardens designed to captivate the senses, kids will love exploring the grounds of The Morton Arboretum. There’s plenty of fun interactive spaces — like The Maze Garden and the 4-acre Children’s Garden — and no shortage of natural beauty. Visit the Ground Cover Garden and take in a living carpet made of flowers and foliage, or walk through the Four Seasons Garden to spot seasonal blooms. 

Oak Park Conservatory

In addition to its three indoor greenhouses, the Oak Park Conservatory has urban outdoor gardens that offer a brief respite from city dwelling. Native Illinois ecosystems can be found in the Elsie Jacobsen Discovery & Rubinstein Gardens.


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Nikki Roberts
Nikki Roberts
Nikki Roberts is the assistant editor on the Chicago Parent team. She is always on the lookout for the coolest and trendiest new attractions, restaurants and events for Chicagoland families. Her newsletters, online family guides and exciting digital content keep families informed on all the latest happenings around town.

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