Tips for Taking Kids to the Chicago Botanic Garden Orchid Show

The topics have come to Chicago…for a little while, at least. Confused because all you see is snow and ice on the ground? Well, I’m talking about one of the most beautiful events of the year, the Chicago Botanic Garden’s “In the Tropics” Orchid Show. This stunning display of tropical flora is giving Chicagoans a place to warm up and marvel over 10,000 orchids in bloom all at the same time. This jaw dropping display is also family friendly, so pack up the stroller and bring the entire family to experience the tropics during this cold, harsh winter. Here are some tips for visiting the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Orchid Show with kids in tow:

Make it a Learning Opportunity

I have found that my boys are less squirmy and more interested in museum exhibits such as the Chicago Botanic Garden Orchid Show when we talk about the ideas or concepts behind the displays first. So spend some time researching rainforests and areas such as the South Pacific and Amazon to spark your child’s curiosity. It can be really fun comparing and contrasting our crazy Midwestern weather with the tropics.

Time Your Visit Carefully

Do you have a music lover on your hands? Then visit the Orchid Show on Tuesday or Thursday mornings to hear live music within the orchid exhibit. 

Have a child who loves going out to lunch? Then plan your visit around a delicious lunch at the Garden View Café (they have great kids’ options and the fresh salads are out of this world).

If your child would be interested in shopping for orchids to bring home, visit on the weekends when you can purchase orchids and orchid related merchandise from a host of vendors.

Engage While Exploring

While the orchid displays can be overwhelmingly beautiful and make you want to take Instagram photo after Instagram photo, don’t forget to engage your little one while exploring the different rooms of the exhibit. My son isn’t particularly in love with flowers, but he is a great help when we are gardening so we talk a TON about how much work we think it took staff to set up all of the displays (PS—did you know that orchids can grow in trees? So neat!).

Another fun game that we like to play anytime we head to the Chicago Botanic Garden is to play I-spy. We look for different colors, shapes, sizes, scents…you name it. It is such a great way to keep your child focused and engaged so that they don’t want to simply rush through the exhibit without you being able to truly enjoy it.

There are also some hands on activities to try out along with CBG staff members, such as determining which flower is an orchid although it might not look like the ones that are on display.

Prepare for Fun Photos

As you may have already guessed, the Chicago Botanic Garden is a beautiful backdrop for photos, and the Orchid Show is a great opportunity to take some photos of your little ones. You can’t leave without snapping a picture under the STUNNING archway of orchids (don’t be afraid to ask someone else to take the photo so that YOU can get into the picture).

Another great photo opportunity is the butterfly wall mural, which will spark a great conversation about the types of pollinators that help the orchids bloom and thrive (spoiler alert: flies, bees, and wasps are KEY).

Pack Lightly

While the entire exhibit is handicapped and stroller accessible, I would recommend parking your stroller in the designated parking stroller area since the exhibit can be a bit narrow in some spots. You will have to bring coats and all the other winter essentials since you have to walk outside to get to the Orchid Show so a parked stroller is a great way to store coats so you can have your hands free to take photos and point out fun blooms to your kiddos while in the exhibit.

For other tips on visiting the Chicago Botanic Garden with kids, click here.

Enjoy the gorgeous blooms!


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  1. Amanda says

    It looks so beautiful! And your son looks like he is enjoying it so much, what a great idea to make it a learning opportunity for him. And I bet it was a fun way to escape the cold of the winter months for a bit!

  2. Louisa says

    These kinds of places are the perfect way to show kids the importance of nature and our surroundings. Most especially today when our natural resources are in danger.

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