It’s July and the time of the year that many parents start to hear “I’m bored”. With over a month still left of summer and plenty of nice weather days left it’s the perfect time to go visit the Chicago Botanic Garden.
This summer, the Garden has a variety of activities for families to enjoy together. From the new Grunsfeld Children’s Growing Garden and Kleinman Family Cove to the Model Railroad Garden and Butterflies & Blooms exhibitions, there are many engaging destinations to discover. A full calendar of events is designed specifically for families throughout the summer.
Model Railroad Garden: Landmarks of America – runs through Sunday, October 27
The Model Railroad Garden returns for a 14th season with new features such as the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., and a refurbished White House. Eighteen model G-scale trains will run on 17 tracks, winding over bridges and trestles, and around nearly 50 models of American landmarks. The 7,500-square-foot exhibition is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (weather permitting). Special evening hours on Wednesdays, June 5 – August 28, until 8 p.m. Cost is $6 for adults; $5 seniors; $4 children (3-12). Members receive $1 discount off these rates; Garden Plus members are free on Wednesdays. The Model Railroad Garden is generously sponsored by Bank Of America. Visit www.chicagobotanic.org/railroad for more information.
Plant Giveaways – Wednesdays through October 6
Visitors are invited to stop by the Fruit & Vegetable Garden between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Wednesday through Friday; and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday to pick up a free seedling. Plant giveaways vary by month and include a care sheet and recipe to help you enjoy your new plant.
Butterflies & Blooms Exhibition – runs through Monday, September 2
The popular Butterflies & Blooms exhibition returns for its second season. Visitors are immersed in a tropical habitat full of hundreds of colorful butterflies interacting with plant life. Butterflies & Blooms features butterflies from around the world, including South America, Asia, North America, and Africa, as well as those native to Illinois. Volunteers are also on hand to answer questions. The 2,800-square-foot white mesh enclosure is located on the lawn of the Learning Campus. Cost is $6 for adults; $5 seniors; $4 children (3-12). Members receive $1 discount off these rates; Garden Plus members are free on Wednesdays. Visit www.chicagobotanic.org/butterflies for more information.
Grunsfeld Children’s Growing Garden Family Drop-in Activities – Daily, through September 2
Get close to nature and discover where food comes from and how plants grow. Pollinate flowers, dissect seeds, see roots growing, compost with worms, create a rainbow for healthy eating, and more. Activities vary from week to week and all feature books and puzzles. Weekend hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Weekday hours are noon to 4 p.m. Visit www.chicagobotanic.org/forfamilies for more information.
Kleinman Family Cove Family Drop-in Activities – Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, through September 1
Explore the plants and animals in aquatic habitats. Use scientific tools to look at tiny critters living under water, find out what makes water plants different from land plants, and more. Activities may vary from week to week. Program hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitwww.chicagobotanic.org/forfamilies for more information.
Malott Japanese Garden Family Sundays – Sundays, July 7 and 21, August 6 and September 1 and 15
Drop by the Elizabeth Hubert Malott Japanese Garden for hands-on activities related to Japanese arts and culture. Practice using chopsticks, rake miniature dry gardens, make Japanese kites, and more. The free activities vary each time, and are subject to change.
Family Campout – July 27 (rain date August 2)
Families can come pitch a tent in our Outdoor Classroom for a low-stress camping experience with flushing toilets and running water! We’ll go for a scavenger hunt and evening hike through the prairie and cook s’mores around a campfire. Please plan to spend the night, as the Garden is unable to accommodate “under-night” or evening-only participants. Activities are geared for participants ages 5 and 6, but younger campers are welcome. Please note the rain date when registering for the campout. Campout fees will only be refunded if both the original date and the rain date are cancelled by the Garden. Program runs 5 p.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Sunday. Cost is $50 per child; $20 per adult. Garden Plus members receive a 20 percent discount. Adult must accompany children. Limit of three children per adult. Campers should bring a sack lunch for dinner. S’mores and breakfast is provided. Visit www.chicagobotanic.org/afterschool/campouts or call (847) 835-8239 for more information.
Herb Garden Weekend – Saturday, July 27, and Sunday, July 28
Learn about a variety of kitchen garden herbs in the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden at Herb Garden Weekend. Staff, volunteers and outside experts will talk about their top ten herbs, how to grow herbs in containers, herbs in the kitchen and more. Herb Discovery Carts will introduce visitors to the herbs and edible flowers they can grow in their own gardens. Marcia Carmichael, herbal expert and historical gardener at Old World Wisconsin, will answer herb gardening questions throughout the weekend. Select vendors will offer plants and herbal products for sale. Visitors can take part in a number of family-friendly activities, including a sniff guess game, planting an herb seed and making a dried herb mix for herb butter. As part of the Plant Giveaway Program, visitors can take a marjoram seedling home (while supplies last). Hours are from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Nature Nights: NEW! Abounding Butterflies – Saturdays, July 6 or 20
Bring a picnic dinner and spend an evening in the Garden! Children ages 4-10 and their families will explore different areas of the Garden and enjoy a variety of discovery-based activities. You’ll learn how butterflies sense the world around them, find out about the butterfly life cycle, and discover how to attract butterflies to your garden. Each Nature Nights also includes a tram ride, a planting project, and s’mores around the campfire. Hours are from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Registration is $25 for nonmembers. Garden Plus members receive a 20 percent discount. Visitwww.chicagobotanic.org/naturenights/ for more information.
Nature Nights: Aquatic Adventure – Saturday, August 3 or 17
Bring a picnic dinner and spend an evening in the Garden! Children ages 4-10 and their families will explore different areas of the garden and enjoy a variety of discovery-based activities. You’ll gather your own water sample and look at plants, insects, and animals that live in the water at the Kleinman Family Cove using scientific tools. Each Nature Nights also includes a tram ride, a planting project, and s’mores around the campfire. Hours are from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Registration is $25 for nonmembers. Garden Plus members receive a 20 percent discount. Visitwww.chicagobotanic.org/naturenights for more information.
Kite Festival – Saturday, August 10, and Sunday, August 11
Enjoy a day at the Garden as colorful kites decorate the sky above the meadow west of Evening Island. Members of the award-winning Chicago Fire Kite Team perform sport kite ballet and precision flying demonstrations, and experts will offer kite-flying tips. Kids are encouraged to join in the fun by making their own kite during the kite-making workshops between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. There’ll also be a ‘Kids Mad Dash’ in which participants will compete to see who can get their kite built and soaring the fastest. Registration is free and available at the Gift of Wings tent between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. The first 30 children to register will receive a free kite to build and fly in the competition. Participants may bring and fly their own kites in the designated “Kite Festival” area between performances. Kites will also be available for purchase through Gift of Wings, a Milwaukee, WI-based retailer which will set up shop during the festival. Gift of Wings along with the Kite Society of Wisconsin and Illinois make this festival possible.
Festival hours are from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., weather permitting. Visit www.chicagobotanic.org/specialevent/kite or call (847) 835-5440 for more information.
Malott Japanese Garden Summer Festival – Saturday, August 17, and Sunday, August 18
Learn about the summer festivals (matsura) celebrated in Japan during this special weekend of activities. Listen to taiko drum and koto harp music, enjoy traditional folktales, and watch a tea ceremony. Kids of all ages can make projects to celebrate summer—fold origami, create a paper fan, make a kite, and more at family-friendly, hands-on stations. Program hours are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Malott Japanese Garden will be staffed with volunteers in the Shoin House and around the Garden from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Also stop by the Mid-America Bonsai Society Show & Sale. Visit www.chicagobotanic.org/familyprograms/dropin for more information.
Heirloom Tomato Weekend – Saturday, August 24, and Sunday, August 25
Get new ideas about everyone’s garden-favorite, tomatoes, with programs focused on growing and using heirloom varieties. Volunteers and staff will provide tips on growing and using tomatoes. “Tomato Discovery Carts” will explore many types of tomatoes you can grow at home and trace the history of tomatoes as they’ve traveled the world. Visitors can ask experts tomato questions and shop for tomato-related items in the Wheelbarrow Shop and from select vendors. Family activities include a creating an herb mix for pasta sauce, a tomato toss, a tomato test, “sorting supper,” “rainbows of tomatoes,” and “indicator art.” As part of the Plant Giveaway Program, visitors can take a Crimson King basil seedling home (while supplies last). Hours are from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors will be able to tour the tomatoes growing in the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden with the horticulturist at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Seed saving demonstrations will be offered on the half hour throughout the weekend.
Find out more at www.chicagobotanic.org
(Disclosure: This post is not sponsored.)