Nature Centers Across Chicagoland

Looking for a way to get your kids engaged in screen free activities?  Then look no further than your local nature center.  There are many outstanding nature centers across Chicagoland where you can get lost in the beauty of the Midwest, no matter the season….and so many are free!  So get out there and get exploring!

Crabtree Nature Center, Barrington (closed Fridays)

Creek Bend Nature Center at LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve, St. Charles (closed Fridays)

Emily Oaks Nature Center, Skokie

Garfield Park Conservatory Outdoor Play and Grow Garden, Chicago (Garfield Park)

The Grove, Glenview

Heller Nature Center, Highland Park

Hickory Knolls Discovery Center, St. Charles

Hidden Oaks Nature Center, Bolingbrook

Indian Boundary Park Nature Play Center, Chicago

Jurica-Suchy Nature Musueum, Lisle

North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago

Red Oak Nature Center, Batavia

River Trails Nature Center, Northbrook (closed Fridays)

Spring Valley Nature Sanctuary, Schaumburg

Thorn Creek Nature Center and Preserve, Park Forest (open Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays)

Welles Park NaturePlace, Chicago (Lincoln Square)

Wildlife Discovery Center @ Elawa Farm, Lake Forest (open Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays)

Wild Sapling Play Forest, Chicago (Lincoln Park Zoo)

Wildwood Nature Center, Park Ridge


Looking for other free fun? Click here.

Happy Exploring!
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  1. Sara-Jayne says

    I love visiting nature centres with my boys – in fact, I just wrote about our adventures there today! I think it’s lovely that there are places that we can go to get closer to nature than we normally can in our own back garden. I’ll bet your USA centres are more exciting than ours though!

  2. Anita Utami says

    What a great compilation! I love the nature. I always enjoy being in the middle of the nature, soaking all in, being one with the Earth. Now that I have a child, I realize how important it is to teach them about the nature and how to preserve it.

  3. Victoria says

    This is such a great and fun list! I always love taking my girls for adventures, especially if I can use them during homeschooling lessons! Going to have to check which ones we have here locally in Orlando, FL!

  4. desirae says

    What a fun list you have! We love getting outside and enjoying the nature. After all, its free! I will have to check out our area to see what fun nature centers are around here.

  5. rochkirstin says

    I’m sure parents and kids would both enjoy visiting these centers because they are only for free. There are lots of explore and to learn about nature and crafts. This summer, while kids are on vacation, exposing them to these sites is great. Too bad we don’t have the same facilities in our area.

  6. Melissa says

    We love Chicago! This is a great list! I would have never known of all of the these nature centers across Chicagoland. Thanks so much!

  7. Krystal says

    We have a few nature centers in Florida that I’ve gone to and LOVED! I have gone to Chicago just once but didn’t get a lot of time to explore. I would love to visit some of these places. I love nature centers that have butterfly gardens or other flower gardens. They make for beautiful photo back drops!

    • amandasimkin says

      The flower and butterfly gardens are the perfect places to escape the bitter Chicago weather.

  8. Breanna says

    This is a wonderful summer idea! I know my son Jonah would absolutely love this – he’s quite the explorer, even at only 2 years old. This is a fantastic list and a great resource! Thanks for putting it together!

    • amandasimkin says

      Aren’t two year olds so fun with their curiosity (and endless amounts of energy, too)?!?

  9. Fi Ní Neachtáin says

    Judging by your past posts as well as this one the Chicago area really does have a lot to offer for kids and families, I wish my area was the same. We have a nature reserve on our island but I’ve never been there and I don’t think anyone is allowed there without a guide – I don’t even know who that is. Instead we do nature walks in the woods and that’s a lot of fun 🙂

  10. Kiwi says

    What a fun list especially for kids! I never been to Chicagoland but looks like a lot of nature-like things to do! Great compliation!

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