A Little Time and a Keyboard: Ambling Around the Morton Arboretum

Ambling Around the Morton Arboretum

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Morton Arboretum in Lisle is one of Chicagoland's great outdoor treasures. Ever since we stumbled upon it, we have found it to be a place where we can clear our minds while experiencing nature's offerings throughout the year.

Children's Garden
For parents, one of the brightest spots of the Morton Arboretum has to be the Children's Garden. The garden is expansive and houses many mediums for engaging children in learning about nature.   Throughout the garden, children will immediately discover boxes full of hands-on learning exercises.  All over, they will find places to climb in, on, through, and around.  A favorite is a pond where children can observe the transformation of tadpoles.  Near the pond, they will find it hard to resist dangling their feet in a small spring (and they are allowed to do it, so go right on!).    And, then, there are the beloved ropes courses. My daughter could spend hours climbing through the ropes courses!

Steel Sculpture
Throughout the year, the Arboretum hosts many events from food festivals to craft events to classes.   The theater-hikes are a particularly popular series.  During the hikes, patrons journey through nature while watching scenes from plays.  The Children's Garden hosts crafting events such as painting pumpkins and rubbing leaves.  At times, the Arboretum is abuzz with a food festival such as a wine tasting event or a chocolate festival (one of my personal favorites!).  Also, the Arboretum houses grand outdoor exhibits. We have visited during a large bug sculpture exhibit, a steel sculpture exhibit, and a scarecrow contest.

The Arboretum has a restaurant and a cafe. The restaurant provides quite a few options from sandwiches to salads to pizza. The food is very fresh but pretty basic. However, I have found that the food options are healthier and, in general, better than offerings at many public attractions. Additionally, since the Arboretum has a restaurant, it has the ability to host many other events including Santa breakfasts and Easter brunches. One of the greatest things about the restaurant---it overlooks a pond.  So, if you are not in the mood for picnicking amongst the trees, the restaurant affords a wonderful view of nature!

The pond near the restaurant

The Arboretum is a place for all seasons, even for this self-confessed, cold weather shut-in.   There is definitely a wonderment in watching such beautiful scenery change with the seasons.  This winter, I am looking forward to attending the Chocolate Festival (which is held indoors) and taking a brisk hike afterwards.  I am also intending on snowshoeing for the very first time.   (Snowshoes and cross- country skis can be rented at the Arboretum.)

If you decide to go to the Arboretum, you may want to consider the yearly membership.  As of January 1, 2012, admission will be $12 per adult and $9 per child (there are discounts for Seniors and on Wednesdays).  A year membership for a family of four is $115  and includes discounts on events, items at the store, and admission for guests.  Also, you will be in a reciprocal program which will give you discounts at other arboretums and botanic gardens across the nation.  In the past, the program has given us free parking at the Chicago Botanic Gardens (which is currently $20).  So, if you make a couple of trips to the Arboretum and the Botanic Gardens, you have saved money.  We have also used the program to visit botanic gardens in other states for free.  I have not been able to locate a 2012 brochure listing reciprocal privileges, so you may want to ask to see one before joining. 

For more information about hours, admissions, and programs, check out the Morton Arboretum website.  The Arboretum is open 365 days a year.  Admission is free this Christmas (however, the Children's Garden will be closed :( )!

***Disclaimer:  Opinions presented in this post are purely my own.  I did not receive anything for making this post.

Bug Sculpture

1 comment

  1. I like your list of family activities...esp. since I live in the western burbs of Chicago. I'm following you back from http://www.mama-press.com