When I was pregnant, my sense of smell was heightened, and I was commuting to the Mag Mile via bus and the El. I was so thankful for the roses in our building’s peaceful courtyard in Rogers Park. I would stop each morning and take in the glorious aroma as the songbirds chirped and tweeted away. It was a small part of my day, but it meant so much as I moved into the noisier hub of the city, and as public transportation was not as kind to my superhero level preggo sense of smell. Taking in fragrant blossoms continues to be one of my favorite pastimes, so I have scouted out three sweet spots where you can slow down and smell the roses this summer.
A rose by any other name in Evanston
The Merrick Rose Garden, located at the intersection of Lake Street and Oak Avenue in Evanston, is pint-sized and was perfect for our toddler to explore last week. We were a little early for the roses, but just being out in the fresh air and seeing the hundreds of neatly labeled rose plants was a treat. The paths are gravel, so they might not be super stroller-friendly, but if your little one is not walking yet, this could be a great place to pop your nugget into a baby carrier for a leisurely stroll that won’t wear you out. There are plenty of benches that could be ideal for a quick family snack.
I used to stop by this rose garden when I was a grad student at Northwestern and it is truly something to behold in all of its blooming glory. I am planning to return again later this summer to take it all in and see what the plants named for Cinco De Mayo and Julia Child look like when rose petals emerge. If you stop by this charming garden, be sure to take a stroll around the neighborhood nearby. There are some incredible homes (and by incredible I am talking million dollar plus, people) to gaze at and wonder about.
Coming up roses in Glencoe
We visited the awe-inspiring Krasberg Rose Garden last year during my son Isaiah’s first summer. There was no shortage of beautiful blooms to see and smell at this haven within the Chicago Botanic Garden. When it comes to roses, some boast a sweet fragrance while others do not. There will be 5,000 roses to enjoy this summer! I checked in with the Botanic Garden staff to find out about several that will offer an especially intoxicating aroma this year. They recommend stopping to smell the Jacarque, Mister Lincoln and Medallion roses.
Just a tip: the two family bathrooms in the Regenstein Center, near the Rose Garden, could come in handy for a diaper change. I know, you are probably like wait, we are all in the zone with the sweet smelling roses, and did she really have to mention the D-word? Yes, I did, because the keep-it-real part of parenting never quits even in an idyllic garden with more roses than you could ever desire.
Kiss from a rose at Buckingham Fountain in Chicago
Buckingham Fountain is one of my favorite Chicago attractions. When I was studying abroad in Madrid, I actually missed it! There is something romantic about an evening walk around the fountain, which is slated to start flowing on May 6. Sure, there will be flashes from a zillion tourists taking photos, but don’t let it bug you. Leave the kiddos home for this one, forgo the ubiquitous selfie and ask one of those eager visitors to take a legit photo of you and your honey.
Then, dip out, and take a stroll around the North Rose Garden, which is just steps away from the iconic fountain. With luscious greenery, a smaller fountain, trellises, and, of course, roses, your leisurely stroll will be the perfect time to steal a kiss or two from your sweetie. P.S. The garden is open until 11 p.m., so go ahead and call the babysitter to see if you can stay a bit longer. You need this time. Trust me!
Whether you stop to smell the blooms out in the ‘burbs or in the heart of the city, I hope you’ll take some time to see the world through rose-colored glasses this summer. Where are your favorite places to savor the smell of roses? Chime in! I would love to hear from you!