The Morton Arboretum

The Morton Arboretumwebsite

Phone: 630-968-0074

Hours: The Morton Arboretum is open 365 days a year from 7:00 am to sunset.

Visitor Center:
Jan-Feb 9am-4pm
Mar-Apr 9am-5pm
May-Oct 9am-6pm
Nov-Dec 9am-5pm
Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve at 3pm, & Christmas Day

Children’s Garden
Nov-Feb 9:30am-4pm
Mar-Oct 9:30am-5pm
Extended hours May-Sept on Thur nights – open until 6pm.
Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve at 3pm, & Christmas Day
Children’s Garden may close for severe weather.

Arboretum Store, Plant Clinic, Gingko Restaurant, Gingko Cafe, Sterling Morton Library, and Founder’s Room hours can be viewed online.

Admission:
Adults (18-64)  $11, Seniors (65-up) $10, Children (2-17) $8, children under 2 free
Discounted admission on Wednesdays – Adults $7, Seniors $6, Children $5

Members are admitted free. Family membership (for a family of four) start at $115/year and include free admission, guests admitted for $5, 15% discount on educational programs, 10% discount at The Arboretum Store, subscription to Seasons quarterly publication, privileges at the Sterling Morton Library, access to the Tree Talk online community, and reciprocal privileges at over 250 gardens and arboreta through the American Horticulture Society Reciprocal Admissions Program. Prices and details for all memberships can be viewed online.

Parking: Parking is included in admission prices. There is a large lot near the Visitors Center and another large lot near the Thornhill Education Center. There are also several small lots.

Bathrooms: There are public bathrooms with changing tables in the Visitors Center. There is also a family bathroom. The bathrooms can get crowded at times (and there can be a wait for the family bathroom), but there are other, generally less busy, bathrooms in the West Pavilion of the Visitor Center. There are bathrooms near the picnic area of the Children’s Garden, as well as several other places throughout the Arboretum.

Nursing area: There is no designated nursing area.

Handicapped/stroller accessibility: There are paths and ramps throughout the Arboretum so it is pretty accessible. There are some hills, but most of the Visitor Center area and Children’s Garden aren’t too bad. We generally bring a double stroller or wagon when we go and haven’t had any problems. The bathrooms are handicapped accessible.

Amenities: The Arboretum Store can be found in the Visitor Center and offers jewelery, clothing, toys, household items, and gifts. The Sterling Morton Library houses collections of books on botany and horticulture. The Plant Clinic offers assistance in choosing and diagnosing plants. The Arboretum also offers party packages, weddings and receptions, business events, social events, rental spaces, classes and camps, a youth volunteer program, scouting and youth group programs, school groups, and photography permits. There are water bottle filling stations in the Visitor Center.

Food: The Ginkgo Restaurant and Cafe are located in the Visitor Center and offer a variety of sandwiches, salads, soups, and Starbucks coffee. Hours and the menu change seasonally and can be viewed online.
You are permitted to bring your own food to the Arboretum. There are many places to picnic, including a large pavilion with vending machines and bathrooms inside the Children’s Garden.

Special events: The Arboretum has a calendar of events available online. Some of the fun upcoming events:

Activities:
- The Children’s Garden – The Children’s Garden is included in the general admission. Inside the Children’s Garden kids can push a giant rolling ball, watch tadpoles in Wonder Pond, splash in the Secret Stream (swimsuits are not allowed), play music on giant flowers, do crafts, and climb across rope bridges. There are plenty of places to play – slides, treehouses, caves, and lots of open space.
Family Explorer Backpacks are available for $4 for members and $5 for non-members and are designed with activities for children ages 2-6.

  • Kids’ Tree Walk and Tree Finder Grove

  • Curiosity Garden
  • Bloom, Zoom, & Sprout
  • Every Which Way
  • Windmill Garden
  • Wonder Pond

  • Under the Trees
 
  • Grotto & Secret Stream

  • Grassy Meadow
  • Evergreen Walk & Lookout

- Hiking - There are 16 miles of trails. Information about walking trails can be viewed online.

- Biking – There are 9 miles of paved roads for biking. Bike rental is available April 15 through September for adults and children. Rentals are $13/member, $15/non-member for 3 hours, or $23/member, $25/non-member for a full day. There are discounted rentals ($10) on Tuesdays, and for seniors citizens on Thursdays. Bike lock and helmet are included with bike rental.

- Maze Garden & the Tot Maze – The Maze Garden covers one acre. Just next to it is a tiny toddler maze.

– Information about The Gardens, Tree Collections, The Schulenburg Prairie, and Seasonal Blooms can be found on the Morton Arboretum website.

We paid: We’ve been to the Morton Arboretum several times and paid different amounts; we try to go on Wednesdays and then we pay $12 for me and Cooper (Dexter’s still young enough to be free). We also got a great Groupon deal where we paid only $5 for admission (I bought four and we used them for a couple visits).

Our experience:
The Morton Arboretum is one of my very favorite places to bring the kids. We have visited often and the kids ask to go all the time.

I’m sad to say we don’t have a membership to the Arboretum; if we did we’d probably visit more. We got a membership to Brookfield Zoo instead, because it’s closer to us, but I hope to work a membership to the Arboretum into the budget soon. Since we’re on a tight budget, we’ve visited on discounted admission days, on National Public Gardens Day (free admission), and got a great deal on Groupon.

Everything in the Arboretum is absolutely beautiful, although we do spend the majority of our time in the Children’s Garden. The rolling ball fountain is a favorite spot for the kids, and they love the Grotto and the Secret Stream. The kids love watching tadpoles in Wonder Pond. We’ve done crafts and played in the playground area, but mostly the kids spend a lot of time running and playing. We spread out a picnic blanket in the large fields outside the Children’s Garden for lunch and encourage the kids to run. It’s a great place to just let them be free because it’s so much more space than our yard or a park and we often have the open field to ourselves. The kids can run as far and as fast as they can without getting out of our sight. The hill just outside the Children’s Garden is a great place to play too; the kids love to roll down the hill.

My tips if you visit:

  • Be sure you bring your camera. I am not a great photographer, but some of my favorite pictures were taken on the Grotto on a sunny day. It’s so beautiful that it’s hard to take a bad picture.
  • Be prepared for the weather (of course). Sunscreen is a must. We haven’t had any problems with bugs near the Children’s Garden, but the wooded or wet areas can get pretty buggy so bring bug spray if you plan to go there.
  • Bring a change of clothes. Or two. Swim suits are not allowed, but the kids are going to get wet, and then they’ll probably get wet again before you make it back to the car.
I’ve never gone to the Gingko Restaurant or Cafe either; I’d like to try them someday, but we enjoy picnicking there so much that we always do that instead. We still haven’t had the opportunity to try out the maze garden; that’s on my list of things to do.
Have you visited the Morton Arboretum? Any favorite spots there or tips for other parents?

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