The Complete Guide to Chicago Botanic Garden

TripBlog
Nov 19, 2019

The Chicago Botanic Garden on Lake Michigan’s shores is one of the world's greatest conservation science centers. Living museum covering nine islands with an area of 385 acres, 27 gardens and 6 miles of shoreline. Just imagine flora and fauna native to Chicago, and you will find it at the Chicago Botanic Garden! Let us then explore what you should expect to do at the Botanical Gardens Chicago, from where and how you can travel to the Garden. Famed for its Botanical Gardens Chicago Bonsai Collection and nine laboratories at the Rice Plant Conservation Science Center. Here plant research thrives, people from all walks of life, of varied ages, backgrounds and tourists flock the Chicago Botanic Garden programs, stroll along or take classes at the Chicago Gardens all-year-round. This one-of-its-kind garden is among the 17 American Association of Museums’ public gardens, and its Lenhardt Library is well-known for its over 150,000 botanical books.

Contents

Chicago’s history since 1930
What's in bloom:
The chicago botanic garden map:
Wander the nature:
Activities for youth and family:
Tickets and coupons:
Chicago botanic garden parking info:
If using the car:
If using the train:
If using the shuttle:
If using the bus:
If using a bicycle:
Nearby gardens:
The Complete Guide to Chicago Botanic Garden

Chicago’s history since 1930

1890 founded Chicago Horticultural Society-CHS conducted its third flower and horticultural show in 1893 at the World’s Columbian Exposition Chrysanthemum Show. Restarted in 1943 the CHS shows continued, and 300 acres of wetlands and marsh of Cook County Forest Preserves were handed over to the society in 1965.

The Cook County Forest Preserve District owns the garden. It is operated and maintained by the Chicago Horticultural Society. The main sources of its revenues are grants, memberships, earned revenues like the parking revenue, and private donations. The Gardens designed by Geoffrey Rausch and John O. Simonds opened in 1972. The 1975 opening of Dr. Koichi Kawana designed Japanese Garden and the Edward L Barnes Regenstein Center.

The English Walled Garden by John Brookes opened in 1991, while the Plant Science Center designed by Booth Hansen opened in 2009. By 2014 the Botanical Gardens Chicago had more than 50, 000 members and 1 million visitors!

The Complete Guide to Chicago Botanic Garden

What's in bloom:

Expect to see these plants at Chicago Botanic Garden in all their glory in the spring to fall seasons of Chicago. 'Dark Purple' Wheat Celosia or Celosia argentea flowers in summer with its wheat-like purple ears grown and seeded at the Botanical Gardens Chicago last till fall requires very little watering and is pest and insect resistant while attracting the bees to the flowers with their color tracks. The Signet Marigold or Tagetes tenuifolia has the color of gems. It is the orange, yellow, and red favorite color of the gardener and landscaper because of its hardy nature, ability to withstand the heat, minimum watering and average soil requirements. The October Skies lavender-blue Asters or Symphyotrichum oblongifolium is also very popular in flower beds.

The Complete Guide to Chicago Botanic Garden

It is favored because of its non-aggressive rhizome cultivation, its seeds for young goldfinches and small birds, the fragrant leaves drawing pollinators, butterflies and bees, and its resistance to pests. You will find plenty of the welcoming orange Canna Lily amid the flower beds. The tall and beautiful plants have the rhizomes removed and replanted after the winter season. The candy for the eyes is the Pink Chrysanthemum which is high-nectar and high-water requiring plants. The roses here at the Garden are the Meilland International’s French Meidiland roses. This rose blooms till winter and can be called a rose shrub instead. The Garden’s other varieties include the Orange tricolor Snapdragons or PAS-94563-Antirrhinum majus and the deep pink Star Clusters or PAS-2208- Pentas lanceolata.

It is not only the blooms that are unique but also full bloom here at the Chicago Botanic Garden! The buzz here is truly about the enrichment of the soul and mind through floral carpets, pollinator-themed gardens, interactive exhibitions, and bold topiaries helping you explore the scent, habitat, plant diversity, garden experiences and more in a congenial environment. Don’t just learn about the birds and the bees at the Botanical Gardens Chicago! Watch the hummingbirds, finches, terns, and butterflies too!

On Thursdays at the Chicago Botanic Garden catch up with the scientists for advice over cocktails or watch the demos of pollinators. Take in the free interactive exhibition for all called the Pollinator’s perspective. Of course, there is a fee and registration too! Register here. You can also take in classes at the Botanical Gardens Chicago that are buzz-worthy at the Regenstein Learning Center. Another free and popular activity is to browse the botanical collection at the Lenhardt Library. Catch them young and watch them grow! Let the kids enjoy the Pollinator Paradise of butterflies and butterfly filled habitat.

The chicago botanic garden map:

To make all sections of the park easily accessible, you can view the Google maps. The entrance is on the Lake Cook Road such that the North orientation is downwards pointing. Why would you need to use a map? The Chicago Botanic Garden covers a huge area, and the activities are many. So, we suggest you use the free smartphone app or download your PDF-map here. It can also help you get to the Garden.

The Botanical Gardens Chicago offers free entry and year-long programs and activities spread out over its 26 gardens of 385 acres and its wooded and prairie lands spread over its four natural areas. You can buy your maps and Garden Guides to help identify locations, venues and plants or flowers in each section.

The Complete Guide to Chicago Botanic Garden

Wander the nature:

Walking tours are best to explore the Chicago Botanic Garden. As we just said, don’t forget to carry your map along! The Seasonal Garden Walk is a great idea to smell and experience the seasons. Don’t forget to watch the bees and birds, the many waterfowl, herons and ducks. Play games like predict the weather, spot the bees and pollinators, take a stroll, jog or even run if you wish. In the evening watch the sun sinks slowly while the lights come on in Evening Island. Walking the outer circuit is the best no matter the season or time.

Did you know that the Chicago Botanic Garden has a walking tour every month of the year? The many such walks which are titled depending on the season as ‘Celebrate Winter’ and the ‘Walk through the Greenhouses.’ From April onwards celebrate with an ‘Early Spring Walk,’ the ‘Walk through the Bonsai Courtyards’ in the Garden.

In June and July, explore the ‘Walk in the McDonald Woods,’ the ‘Crabapple Walk,’ or the ‘Walk in the Dwarf Conifer Garden.’ You must visit and ‘Celebrate the Rose Garden,’ the ‘Walk through the Crescent’ or the ‘Walk along the Water's Edge’ also at the Botanical Gardens Chicago. Try the ‘Walk in the English Walled Garden,’ or the ‘Walk through the Regenstein Fruit and Vegetable Garden’ too.

In summer explore the ‘Summer Evening Walk through the Garden’ and the ‘Summer Perimeter Walk.’ Once fall is on its way the ‘Early Fall Wows,’ the ‘October Fall-Color Tree Walk’ and the ‘Autumn Walk in the Dixon Prairie’ are the best. The two Conservation Walks also is a great idea which takes you through the specific natural conservation areas to the Plant Science Center touring from the south or north.

Are you aware of the only time when pets are allowed into the Chicago Botanic Gardens for two hours? On 13th October 2019, there will be costumed and ticketed dog show and parade from 11 am -1 pm. If you bring a dog along, you will have to keep it on-leash and buy a ticket, whether it participates or not.

Besides the best-costume contest, there will be best-costumed dog plus pet-parent, best-costumed puppy, best horticultural-interpretation segment, and the best costumed senior complete with an award and felicitation ceremony. Several pet-supply vendors, canine nonprofit organizations, and veterinarians are expected to participate in the parade which begins at the Krasberg Rose Garden at 11 am. All dogs should exit the park by 2 pm. Buy your tickets for the ‘Spooky Pooch Parade’ online at the Garden’s website.

The Complete Guide to Chicago Botanic Garden

Activities for youth and family:

The Chicago Botanic Gardens programs are designed for people of all ages. The very young kids, the day-campers, curious high-school kids, certificate, graduate, PHDs and Masters students, and the ever-learning Chicago and tourists. Who said the Botanical Gardens Chicago do not care for food and shopping? Check out the Visitor Center, which has the Garden Shop, Garden Café, and the Plant Information Service sections. The Regenstein Center has those exhibition halls with the butterfly-powered and filled greenhouses and the learning reservoir of Lenhardt Library. Just atop the Plant Conservation Center are the Green Roof Garden and the interactive demo of the Visitor Gallery on plant research. From June until Labor Day the Garden closes at 9 pm. So, enjoy the free concerts. You can dine at the Rose Terrace Beer Garden or Garden Grille while doing so. Or bring a picnic basket and your foldable chairs if you wish to have a picnic after four in the evening Mondays to Thursdays!

The Complete Guide to Chicago Botanic Garden

Through the week there’s always activity and fun happening at the Chicago Botanic Gardens. On Mondays, it’s time for the Carillon one-hour musical Concerts where you can try to ring the bells or chat up the performers while watching the summer sunset. On Tuesdays, the Music on the Esplanade explores music and performers from bluegrass to big bands. Wednesdays have the Dancin' Sprouts free entertainment and live music shows. Thursdays have the Hot Summer Nights for the family to dance awhile at the Botanical Gardens Chicago with top-notch energizing music. You can Print Concert schedule here.

There are also a variety of family and youth themed programs happening for those as young as 2 right up to the 18-year-old kids. Learn along with the kids at the Nature Preschool and Little Diggers programs for those between 2 and 4. The 4-class sessions happen once a month.

Classes for the slightly older 4-10-year kids helps them explore the plant connection at the Chicago Botanic Gardens to culture, history, art and science through 90 min weekend classes where they learn, cook and taste food in all its glory. Adults too, can participate.

Those who love the Summer and Holidays Camp should check out the Chicago Botanic Gardens especially-designed program for kids with conservation, technology, art and other theme-based hands-on activities thrown in. Older kids can take on the garden-art and cookery classes or participate in the ITW Kitchen to cook, eat, and interact their way of learning.

A variety of activities at the Chicago Botanic Gardens like the Student Exhibition on Photography focusing on Nature from 26th Sept to 13th October 2019. The annual Botanical Arts Exhibition from 15th November to 5th January 2020 or the Painting exhibition from 9th May to 16th August 2020 by Philip Juras happening at the Joutras Gallery. And Regenstein School will also keep them gainfully learning and employed when they have the free-time and inclination for arts.

Tickets and coupons:

The Chicago Botanic Garden is a very vast area, and it is best to plan your visit and also check out the schedules and events with the garden, Metra, Pace buses and such services before you visit. Use the ‘Visit Chicago Botanic Gardens on the cheap’ program. Your options are detailed below from how to reach the Garden to the parking facilities and other onsite. By doing so, you will be promoting the activities of the park’s affiliate programs which help earn revenue and pay the bills. You can also buy maps and Garden Guides to help identify locations, venues and plants or flowers in each section.

Chicago botanic garden parking info:

The Chicago Botanic Garden is well-equipped. Open daily from 8 am to dusk during winter. For summer holidays they have extended hours. The garden is accessible even when you are wheelchair-bound and has ample restrooms available. Photography is allowed, and parking fees are applicable. Though the path in the garden is a multi-use path, no rollerblades, pets or skateboards are permitted within its premises.

The physical address of the Chicago Botanic Garden is 1000 Lake Cook Road at Glencoe, Illinois. The Chicago park is open from 8 in the morning to 7 in the evening. Their Garden View Café is open from 8 am to 5 pm while the Garden Shop is open from 10 am to 5 pm.

Advance Parking is the norm at the Chicago botanical garden. You get in much faster and have more time to spend at this fun venue when you buy your parking reservations online and much earlier to your visit.

The holidays and weekends fee at the Botanical Gardens Chicago is 30 USD, and on weekdays it is 25 USD for Non-cook County visitors. However, entry to the gardens is free! The parking is for a single visit valid for that day and during operating hours of the garden only, and no refunds are possible. You may be asked for proof of residency upon entry and can avail the Cook County resident’s discount of 5 USD. Here’s a tip. If you love visiting the garden, become a member, and use the parking for free!

If you need to reach out to the Chicago Botanic Garden's Customer Care, the number is (847) 835-6801 or call the main number at (847) 835-5440. The members-only number is (847) 835-8215. You can also subscribe to their blog and E-newsletter for the upcoming events and schedules at https://www.chicagobotanic.org. It is easy to tour the garden when you have the Smartphone App and the Chicago botanical garden’s Garden Map.

Your transportation modes:

Situated 20 miles northwards from Chicago you can find your route below.

If using the car:

From Chicago- Use the I-90 Kennedy Expressway, The I-94 Edens Expressway or US Route #41 to exit at the Lake Cook Road terminus and travel half a mile to the east to arrive at the Garden.

From Indiana- Take the northbound I-80, I-94 or I-90 through Chicago.

From the north- Use I-294 or the US Route #41.

From the south- Use the northbound I-294 and travel 4 miles due east.

From the west- Use I -294 towards Wisconsin from the I-90. You will have a 4-mile drive from the exit to Lake Cook Road to the east to reach the gardens.

If using the train:

The Botanical Gardens Chicago is very close if you use the Metra's Union Pacific North Line to the Braeside Metra train station from where you can walk the 0.8 of an ADA accessible mile. If you need a taxi, then call the 303-Taxi Cab Company on 847*729*0303. The Metra rail contact details for schedules and timings are metrarail.com or 312*836*7000. From the Glencoe Metra station, you can hop onto the Garden shuttle or even take a Pace bus. For details here call 847*835*5440. Go ahead buy a Metra Pass, pack your lunch, and explore the Garden.

If using the shuttle:

From May-August the shuttle service from the Glencoe Metra Station is provided only on Sundays. In September the shuttle can be used by visitors to the American Craft Exposition. The Round-trip tickets cost 2USD/ person with members and children under 5 riding the shuttle for free. Click here for timings. From Mondays-Saturdays use the #213 Pace bus from Green Bay Road to the Chicago Botanic Garden.
The shuttle runs from 9:30 am-5 pm leaving the Garden 20 min before every south or northbound train reaches Glencoe. If it gets filled, a second-trip is arranged. Those who are in wheelchairs can get information about accessibility on the train at 847*835*6801 or on metrarail.com. Reach out to the garden numbers for alternative arrangements.

If using the bus:

Buses are frequent from Evanston’s Davis Street, the Highland Park train stations and Glencoe station. The #213- Northbrook Court bus of the Pace Suburban Bus Service can be used. You can find buses heading south or north on the Green Bay Road which reaches the botanical park via Lake Cook Road. For bus-enquiries call the bus company on 847*836*000 or visit their site at pacebus.com. There are no buses on federal holidays and Sundays. The fare on the buses cost 2USD one-way. If you use the Ventra app or a bus pass you can peg this at 1.75 USD.

If using a bicycle:

You can use bicycle down the mile-long Cook County link trail from North Branch Trail to Green Bay Trail. Enjoy the trip through the wooded paths of Turnbull Woods and McDonald Woods. Bicycle lots and racks can be found near the entrance gate’s parking lots. The gates at Dundee Road and Lake Cook Road are open to bicyclists from 8 am right up to sunset. View the bike routes here.

Nearby gardens:

If you have not found out by now that Chicago City is blessed with an abundance of gardens, parks and conservatories look at the number of parks right around and easily accessible from the Chicago Botanical Park.

The Conservatory at Lincoln Park close to botanical gardens Chicago opened way back in 1877, lies on Lake Michigan’s shores just west of Lake Shore Drive. And south of Fullerton Avenue with its address at 2391 North Stockton Drive. They open at 9 in the morning, and admission is free. Contact them for information on 1*312*742*7736. This park has the zoo next door, a fountain, an orchidarium, tons of flowers in bloom, a very maintained lawn, and families with kids all around. Even parking a block north of the park is for free!

The Botany Pond- Spend a half-hour here near the botanical gardens Chicago just watching the squirrels, goldfish, koi, ducks, and turtles from the bridge over the pond. This is natures break from the city’s bustle and hustle where you can bring in some fresh air, serenity, and quiet to your soul. This favorite spot is free to view at Chicago University and is open 24 hours all days of the year.

Try the Oak Park Conservatory which is near botanical gardens Chicago at Oak Park on 615 Garfield Street. It has a wide range of flowers and plants set amid their natural surroundings. Its restricted hours start at 10 am and are free, but yes, you should donate your mite! They are closed on Mondays. Opened in 1929 it spreads over a huge 87,120 sq ft. Call 1*708*725*2400 for information.

The Garfield Urban Park on 300 North Central Park Avenue is a huge 184 acres close to the botanical gardens Chicago at Chicago's West Side in the neighborhood of East Garfield Park designed by William L Jenney in 1907. It opens at 9 am and can be contacted on 1*312*746*5100.

While rounding off this guided trip to the Chicago Botanic Garden, the Garden is one fun place where there is something for every member of the family and community no matter the day, season or time of the year. The information provided on the Botanical Gardens Chicago spurs you on to do your bit in learning while exercising or bicycling, taking the tours, workshops and child-friendly activities organized in the lap of nature at the Garden.

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