The Chicago Botanic Garden is one of the hidden treasures of Chicagoland. It is nestled away in Glencoe, which is about 20 minutes north of O’Hare Airport on a good day. It is recommended that you leave early to beat rush hour traffic so as to enjoy a full day and get good parking. The Botanic Garden is free, but it costs $30 to park (only $25 for Cook County residents).
Once you leave the parking lot, you will be captivated by a sense of natural beauty. On a warm sunny day, the visually pleasing and calming energy is unparalleled. For people who are used to the high energy of Chicago, the organic nature of the Botanic Garden offers a much-needed contrast to the world of concrete, steel, and glass. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous. It is a blend of Lord of the Rings and Jurassic World, minus the Hobbits and dinosaur-taming Chris Pratt. This place is teeming with wildlife: frogs, squirrels, ducks, fish, and even a grasshopper that resembles Jiminy Cricket, sans top hat, white gloves, and black tailcoat.
There are dozens of gardens on display. There is the Fruit and Vegetable Garden. In the fall, you will see many apples strewn along the ground, blanketed by multi-colored leaves. What is funny is that there are many signs that specifically say not to pick the fruit, but people and squirrels routinely neglect the warnings. There is the Aquatic Garden, which houses many exquisite lilies and lotuses. It has a very Eastern feel, with subtle architecture that enhances the beauty of the flowers. There is the Bulb Garden, which is perfect to visit in the spring, when flowers are in bloom.
The Garden offers many perks for those in need of a recharge. For those looking for a unique place to go on a date, the Chicago Botanic Garden is excellent, fun, and unconventional. With its sprawling landscapes, it’s worth the drive to be away from the hustle and bustle of city life. For the artsy types, the rolling hills, swaying trees, and open fields will spark the creative juices, especially if you are experiencing a slump. Also, the garden sits on nearly 400 acres, so it is a great way to get some much needed walking in before the winter months put the brakes on outdoor exercise. It is recommended that you stay hydrated while wearing comfortable clothing and shoes, because you will sweat (a lot!) as you cover about 2-3 miles without realizing it. Make sure to get something to eat (or drink!) at the Garden View Café. The Garden View Café has locally grown produce and a mean grass-fed burger!
It’s best to go a few times, because it may be too much to absorb in one trip. The Botanic Garden has dozens of attractions, including the multiple gardens, exhibitions, and even the Garden Trams, which small children and fun adults will love. If you do go in the summer months, not only is the Botanic Garden a great place to visit, but it is a very short ride to Ravinia Festival. Within the past year, Maxwell and Lenny Kravitz have played great shows there. If there is a musical act playing at Ravinia, leave early and spend the majority of the day at the Botanic Garden. Once the sun begins to set, take the shuttle over to Ravinia, rock out, and you will have an unforgettable experience.
Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Rd, Glencoe, IL, USA +1 847 835 5440
Ravinia Festival, 200 Ravinia Park Rd, Highland Park, IL, USA +1 847 266 5100
by Daveed Holmes
Daveed Holmes was born and raised in the South Suburbs of Chicago. He recently graduated from UIC with a BFA in Art and Design. He is an aspiring writer who loves the outdoors, exercising, and plans to travel the world visiting ancient ruins and temples.