Perhaps Chicago Botanic Garden’s motto Urbs in Horto, or “city in a garden,” reflects the diverse flora and ecosystems all collected within a single 385-acre plot. Or, perhaps it illustrates the garden’s penchant for attracting more than a million visitors every year and the largest membership base of any botanic garden in the country. What can be known is that the garden, nestled within an urban environment of golf courses, shopping centers and residential communities, is much more than an assortment of flowers and trees. It is a sanctuary, a place of learning and rejuvenation, a literal breath of fresh air.
Chicago Botanic Garden contains 27 world-renowned gardens, four natural areas, a conservation research facility and an extensive library, among other small shops and eateries. For the avid grower or nature lover, the garden offers you a chance to walk the footpaths and get lost among its nine picturesque islands. Or, if you’d like to give your feet a rest, narrated tram tours are available from late April through October. Admission is free all year long.
A beautiful, sunny weekend is as good an excuse as any to head to the garden, just off of Metra’s Union Pacific North Line. If you’re walking to the garden or want to ride your bike, head to the Braeside station. As soon as you step off of the train, you will see an entrance to the North Branch Trail, a paved path that leads directly to Chicago Botanic Garden. The walk from the station to the garden may take about 20 minutes or about 5-10 minutes on a bike.
To catch a ride to the garden, alight at the Glencoe Station and either hop on the #213 Pace bus on Saturdays, or a trolley provided by the gardens on Sundays (between May and September).
Take your time and enjoy your day exploring the living museum (and don’t forget to visit the Model Railroad Garden!). When you’re ready to head back home, head back to Braeside or Glencoe station the same way you got to the garden. There are several regularly scheduled train options to get you back to the city or farther up north.