Summer in Chicago: Watching Chicago Botanic Garden Grow

Summer in Chicago: Watching Chicago Botanic Garden Grow

I just can't quit you, Chicago.

For as much as I bitch and moan about the winter weather, I am rewarded for the trouble with glorious summers pretty much every year—even if it does show up 6 weeks late.

For me, there's no better place (aside from the lakefront, maybe...) to experience summer than the Chicago Botanic Garden. Quibblers can debate the technicality of its location in Glencoe, and there are plenty of bee-yoo-tee-full green spaces in the city proper—Lincoln Park and the lily gardens, Garfield Park, etc.—but for diversity of design and kick-butt programming, CBG has got it going on.

First off, it's stunning.


You can walk, and walk and walk and never be bored from a visual perspective. You can also walk, and walk, and walk, and really tire out your kids for the rest of the day. Win win! My fave spot? Probably the English Garden, only because I fantasize about having my very own, one day, with Hugh Grant riding up on horseback and telling me his heart is mine forever. (Damn you Ang Lee for making every romantic moment my husband has ever created pale in comparison!)

They have the best miniature railroad ever.


For real—it'll make all those killer designs you thought you were the master of building with the Thomas set look rookie in comparison. Complete with buildings made from organic materials that look so real you'll spend more time looking at them instead of the trains, you can get lost for an hour in just this one tiny corner of the Garden.

There's always something way cool going on.


One of my favorite activities in the summer are the Garden Chef demos. (OK, I'm lying -- the coolest thing are probably the farm-to-table dinners but they're a bit too rich for my blood at $200 a ticket. I'm hoping someone leaves me one in a will.) The chef demos are the next best thing and—Shazaam!—free. Every Saturday and Sunday, the Garden hosts a chef from a local restaurant and they get busy. Yum+fun=day well spent.

But in the end, the Garden is a fave for me not because of everything it offers, but because of everything it isn't—loud, crowded and overbearing. I loves me some festivals, but sometimes, you just need a place to go where you aren't getting a red solo cup full of beer accidentally poured on your feet. I can lay on the lawn or pop a squat on Evening Island, crack open a book and just ... be.

The only rub to my love is the $25 to park at the Garden—but, there are ways around that. You can pony up for a Membership, which pays for itself with just a few visits, or you can ride bikes—the Garden sits on the Forest Preserve's North Branch trail.

I do, I do—I love this city and the 'burbs around it—so much so I write about it every week for my day job. But if you want to follow me here, I've got lots more I expound on! Just type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.

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All photos courtesy of the Chicago Botanic Garden


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