Fresh air, beautiful scenery and the sounds of the great outdoors. There is nothing more peaceful than unplugging from technology and truly connecting with nature.
This ritual practice — also known as nature or forest bathing — comes from a Japanese concept developed in the 1980s. During a nature bath, you experience nature therapy by “bathing” in the energy of clean air to awaken the senses. Taking a mindful stroll is known to ease stress, restore positive moods and boost immune function.
Here are some places to get you started on taking a nature bath with kids.
Organized nature baths
- Address: 1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe
- Cost: $50 for non-members
The Chicago Botanic Garden offers nature baths with certified nature and forest therapy guides. Instructors combine standard and progressive methods to deliver uplifting classes for all ages and abilities. Participants connect with forest life through mindful activities on a gentle walk, typically covering less than a mile and ending with a tea ceremony using native plants.
- Address: 300 N. Central Park Ave., Chicago
- Cost: Sliding scale ticket prices starting at $5
Led by an experienced horticultural therapist, Garfield Park Conservatory offers guided nature bath walks for families. Each walk begins with grounding activities that include breath work and sensory work with plants around the conservatory. At the end of each walk, guests enjoy a tea ceremony that highlights plants from the walk as well as an art-based activity using plants and plant material.
- Address: 4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle
- Cost: $32-$42
The Morton Arboretum offers two- and three-hour forest therapy walks led by a certified forest therapy guide. No two walks are the same, as each one visits different locations on the 1,700-acre property. Participants experience a series of guided, gentle “invitations” to commune with nature and notice new details. The walks conclude with a calming tea ceremony where guests can reflect over tea made from edible plants foraged along the trail.
DIY nature baths
- Address: 5420 N. Forest Glen Ave., Chicago
Located just outside of Jefferson Park on the far northwest side of the city, Forest Glen Woods is a small natural habitat that is part of the Lower North Branch preserves. Nature bathers can take in some of the best natural habitat on the Chicago River and see an abundance of plants that include swamp buttercup, trout lilies and wild geranium. This is also a popular location to observe migratory and nesting birds, snapping turtles and monarch butterflies.
LaBagh Woods boasts a wealth of diverse natural areas, including wooded landscapes, wetlands, savannas and sedge meadows. Located at the southern start of the popular North Branch Trail, nature lovers can take in large oaks, hickories and maples. LaBagh has also been dubbed a birdwatching paradise.
- Address: 247 Monee Road, Park Forest
Thorn Creek in Will County gives families more than 1,000 acres to bath in. Not only does it have nearly two miles of trails and a nature center to explore after your bath, it offers a vast variety of habitats, such as forest, prairie, savanna, wetland and Thorn Creek — as well as wildlife (flying squirrels!).
Follow Chicago Parent on Instagram.