Chicago Botanic Garden: A guide to fall colors & more

Chicago Botanic Garden: A guide to fall colors & more
We can never have enough of nature.” ― Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods

The ginkgos are starting to turn as bright as the sun, maples promise a spectacularly vibrant array of multitones, and sumacs’ colorful clusters stand out in glorious shades of bright red and purple

Come October in Chicago the trees reach their peak fall colors creating a rich tapestry from Mother Nature’s color palette. 

The Show Must Go On

Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

The golden bronze of the Hickories, the brilliant scarlet of the Red Maple, the oranges of the Sugar Maples and the russet reds of the Oaks that follow–often continuing into November and early December–create a spectacular show that even a pandemic can’t shutdown.

Best Places to view color

The Espanade. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

The Esplanade. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Although you can find colorful trees on a city street or even just outside your window, one of the best places to see it all is at the Chicago Botanic Garden that showcases a plant collection of more than  2.6 million plants on over 385 acres. 

Plant Finder

Get planting ideas for your fall garden.Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Get planting ideas for your fall garden.Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Before you begin your journey through the garden, you may want to make a plan. Even if you don’t know a gingo from an oak tree, the Garden’s plant finder will help you to identify trees and plants and to see what’s in bloom. Click here.

Garden Highlights

The English Walled Garden. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

The English Walled Garden. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

There is so much to see at the Garden that you could easily spend a day.  You can explore the grounds via foot or tram.

Highlights of the garden for fall include:

English Walled Garden (pictured above)
Circle Garden

View from the Circle Garden. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

View from the Circle Garden. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

The Regenstein Fruit and Vegetable garden.Photo: Carole K uhrt-Brewer

The Regenstein Fruit and Vegetable garden.Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

For a complete list of Gardens click here.

For a suggested Color Tree Walk, click here.

Beyond the trees

Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

The trees are not the only part of nature that changes in fall. Cruise through the Bonsai Collection, the Aquatic Garden, Evening Island and more.

A wall of mums inside the English Walled Garden. Photo” Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

A wall of mums inside the English Walled Garden. Photo” Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Don’t miss the brilliant  color of the prairie grasses or the many varieties of mums and other fall flowers.

Hungry?

Dining on the terrace. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Dining on the terrace. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

You can dine on the Terrace overlooking the water or under the trees at the Esplanade Cafe (open 11am to 2pm, Monday through Friday; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday).

The Espanade Cafe. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

The Espanade Cafe. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Reservations required

Entry path from parking lot 2. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Entry path from parking lot 2. Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

All Guests must register here.

Upcoming events

Fall Bulb Festival – Saturday, October 10 through Sunday, October 11 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.); Members-only bulb shopping, Friday, October 9 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
Visit chicagobotanic.org/bulb for more information. 

Night of 1,000 Jack-o’-Lanterns – Wednesday, October 14, through Sunday, October 18 (6:30 to 10:30 p.m.), and Wednesday, October 21, through Sunday, October 25 (6:30 to 10:30 p.m.)
More than 1,000 hand-carved, real pumpkins—some as large as 150 pounds—will light up the night. Visit chicagobotanic.org/halloween for tickets and information.

Lightscape – Friday, November 13, to Sunday, January 3, 2021; Select Nights (4:30 to 10 p.m.) The holiday event that sold out in its debut is back. Along a mile-long path, the night will come alive with color, imagination and sound, from a playful choir of singing trees to a spectacular Cathedral of Light. Visit chicagobotanic.org/lightscape for tickets and information.

Information:

Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Photo: Carole Kuhrt-Brewer

Address: 1000 Lake-Cook Rd Glencoe
Metra: Union Pacific N to Braeside. Then bike, bus, walk or Uber less than a mile to Garden.
Free admission: parking per car $25, $30 weekends; seniors (Cook County residents) on Tuesdays $10.

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Filed under: Garden Walks

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