Captain Kirk’s Pistachio Nightmare: A Day at the Chicago Botanic Garden

If you live near Chicago and haven’t been to the Chicago Botanic Garden, or if you’re visiting Chicago and have an extra day in your itinerary, it’s worth the haul up to the north shore to check it out.

I’m not that easy to impress when it comes to natural spaces around Chicago. But I have to admit it, the Botanic Garden is pretty great: three hundred eighty five acres, nine islands, and twenty-six gardens.

There are flowers, of course.

And plants with weird names.

And weird-looking plants.

There’s a huge and productive fruit and veggie garden, with common and uncommon edibles alike.

There’s even a world-class Bonsai display.

The Botanical Garden is located in Glencoe, Illinois. Whether or not you have a car, there are a number of ways to get yourself there. When I was a kid, my family would park the car at Harms Woods and bike the last 9 miles to the garden because it was fun, and because anyone NOT in a car gets in free. (Parking is $25.)

When we took the in-laws for their first visit last Saturday, we needed about four hours to cover most of the garden at a leisurely pace. Pack a picnic, because the cafe is expensive and not so good. Or, work up an appetite and hold off for Prairie Grass Cafe, a few minutes southwest of the garden.

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13 thoughts on “Captain Kirk’s Pistachio Nightmare: A Day at the Chicago Botanic Garden

  1. If you can get five people in your car, that’s only $5 per person! And it’s only about thirty minutes from your hood. That’s a lot closer than the dumb Indiana Dunes.

  2. Some friends and I went earlier this summer (one of them is a member), and I can recommend it too. The $25 non-member parking is steep, so that’s why you should go with a group. Unfortunately, I don’t think the group can include Minka unless one of you pretends to be visually impaired. There are trails through the woods and lots of different gardens, orchards, and so on. Some like the rose gardens are kindof stuffy, others are more relaxed. Plan to spend the day. I think the restaurant people were recommending to Brooke Prairie … something is highly recommended, but if you want to sit on the patio and order from the grill (burgers, grilled veggie sandwiches, beer-though a limited list), that’s also an option.

  3. Just buy a yearly pass! (Parking is free with the yearly pass.) Even if you only go once each season, you’ll have already saved money. If you go dozens of times like me, it comes out to only a couple of bucks per visit.

    You could also bike the North Branch Trail which leads you directly into the garden. Then it’s free. I’ve done it, and the North Branch Trail is really great, so it’s an added bonus.

    The Chicago Botanic Garden is definitely the best botanic garden I’ve ever visited, and I’ve been to quite a few across the country.

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