There is no time like the present to visit local garden gems. Large and small, these gardens offer beautiful backdrops for portrait taking, personal enjoyment and respite from life’s hustle and bustle. Please enjoy this list of our favorite local gardens to visit, all within a day’s drive of Chicagoland. We highlight gardens that are less than 100 miles from Evanston, and include a list of notable gardens located up to 200 miles away. Links to their respective websites are included for more information on planning your visit.
1) Baha’i Temple, Wilmette
Miles from Evanston: 1
The majestic Baha’i Temple, a place of worship that is architecturally reminiscent of the Taj Mahal, has surrounding gardens that offer beauty and tranquility. All are welcome inside the temple. (A nearby bonus is Gillson Park, a large recreational area with beaches, picnic areas, boat rentals, lighted tennis courts, tot lot and more.)
2) Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe
Miles from Evanston: 10
Chicago Botanic Garden offers 26 gardens and four natural areas, situated on 385 acres on and around nine islands, with six miles of lake shoreline. With that much to discover and enjoy, this garden is well worth visiting several times a year. Free to the public, parking fees apply.
3) Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool, Chicago
Miles from Evanston: 10
Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool, nestled in Lincoln Park, is an outstanding example of the Prairie Style of landscape architecture. Alfred Caldwell, a landscape designer, architect, teacher and poet, designed this “sanctuary of the native (Midwestern) landscape.”
4) Lurie Garden, Chicago
Miles from Evanston: 14
Lurie Garden, part of downtown Chicago’s Millenium Park, is a five-acre garden covered in waves of colorful perennials, trees and shrubs that “pays homage to Chicago’s transformation from flat marshland to innovative green city, or “Urbs in Horto” (which means city in a garden).” (Source: www.luriegarden.org) Touted as having four seasons of splendor to enjoy, summer in the garden is exceptional.
5) Garfield Park Conservatory, Chicago
Miles from Evanston: 24
Garfield Park Conservatory, located in the redeveloping west side of Chicago, 10 minutes from downtown, is a 184-acre site of horticultural splendor both inside the conservatory and its surrounding grounds. Outdoor areas are especially fun for children this time of year.
6) Morton Arboretum, Lisle
Miles from Evanston: 35
Morton Arboretum was established in 1922 as an “outdoor museum of trees”. Its expansive 1,700 acres hold thousands of live plants from all over the world. On a day trip, you can surround yourself in nature and enjoy a one-acre maze garden, a four-acre, award-winning Children’s Garden, hiking and walking trails and biking paths (bike rentals available).
7) Anderson Japanese Garden, Rockford
Miles from Evanston: 84
Named the highest quality Japanese garden in North America by Sukiya Living Magazine, Anderson Japanese Garden was originally a privately owned garden designed in 1978 and built by Master Craftsman Hoichi Kurisu. It offers 12 acres of beautifully designed tranquil settings against traditional, 16th century style architecture.
8) Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden, Rockford
Miles from Evanston: 85
Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Garden has an approximately 3-mile long loop, paved walking trails and unpaved hiking trails. Family friendly, it features a Children’s Garden, Prehistoric Garden and playful fountains. A bonus is that this park allows leashed, friendly pets.
More Notable Gardens Located Under 200 Miles from Evanston:
9) Rotary Botanical Gardens, Janesville, Wisconsin
Miles from Evanston: 106
10) Weber House & Garden, Streator
Miles from Evanston: 111
11) Fernwood Botanic Garden & Nature Preserve, Niles, Michigan
Miles from Evanston: 120
12) Wellfield Botanic Garden, Elkhart, Indiana
Miles from Evanston: 130
13) Olbrich Botanical Garden, Madison, Wisconsin
Miles from Evanston: 144
14) Quad City Botanical Center, Rock Island
Miles from Evanston: 181
15) Green Bay Botanic Garden, Green Bay, Wisconsin
Miles from Evanston: 197