Tips for Visiting Cantigny Park

You know how some museums and parks are old and antiquated with “No Touching” signs everywhere? Well, that is a thing of the past at Cantigny Park. At this vast park, there are award-winning gardens, museums, hiking trails, restaurants, playgrounds, picnic areas, and even a TANK PARK to explore! Here are some Tips for Visiting Cantigny Park:

First off, know that Cantigny Park has something for EVERYONE. Download the map and look through it before even arriving so you know which areas you want to explore (and are mindful of the areas that are under construction as a result of their “Project New Leaf” multi-year plan  to expand Cantigny’s beauty.

Reserve free tickets for timed entry to its museums (closed Mondays and some holidays), attend complimentary history hikes, or wander on your own time at your own pace. The parking fee is only $5 and reservations are not needed if only exploring the outside attractions. Just keep in mind that they will close the park when it is at capacity so you might want to call before you drive over on a beautiful day.

Similar to when you explore the Chicago Botanic Gardens or Morton Arboretum with kids, it is fun to hunt the Cantigny grounds together for certain colors, shapes, sounds, and objects (check out my tips for a nature scavenger hunt, too!). You will find so many different treasures throughout the natural grounds, including my favorite character from the Marvel universe. Geocaching is also available, but keep in mind that the cache boxes will be inaccessible until 2021 due to “Project New Leaf” construction.

The true star of the show if you ask my boys is the tank park located next to the First Division Museum and Wood Chip Trail. There are tons of historic tanks that showcase over 100  years of armor. This iconic park is great for those who want to learn more about history and the brave men and women who protected our country while also having fun climbing onto these majestic beasts.

While there might be soft ground under the dozen or so tanks stationed throughout the military display, don’t forget that these are ACTUAL tanks so there will be sharp edges and other pieces of machinery that could be troublesome for young explorers. Children should be closely monitored—and don’t forget to read all about the history of the tank before hopping on it.

While I might have given you a lot of Tips for Visiting Cantigny Park, one of my biggest ones would be to visit when the ground is dry so that your children aren’t slipping and sliding at the tank park, for it can cause some serious injuries. We visited on a dry Fall day, which was perfect since the metal of the tanks wasn’t too hot and the ground was hard so we had firm footing while exploring the massive beasts.

Cantigny Park’s tank park is like no other in that it really encourages visitors to get up close and personal with living history. My very active boys absolutely LOVED that they were encouraged to climb and learn with BOTH their hands and eyes, so if you have active kiddos like me who love to learn, the tank park is the PERFECT spot for your family.

One of my last Tips for Visiting Cantigny Park is to make a day of it by packing a lunch and enjoying the vast picnic grounds offered. There is even a playground adjacent to the picnic table area so kids can burn off energy while adults relax and catch up. Need help coming up with a picnic? Check out these delicious tips.

For more outdoor fun, be sure to check out some of our favorite hiking trails and nature centers in Chicagoland.

Happy Exploring!


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