The Chicago Botanic Garden Has an Entrance Fee, but Planning Ahead Gets You Discounts

As of this week, one has to pay an entrance fee to see the Chicago Botanic Garden – but if you follow their activities closely, you might benefit from one of the multiple free entrance days they will still offer throughout the year. Plus, if you used to visit by car, the payment won’t be as high for you. 


Prices Will Vary upon Date, Season and How Many Other People Want to Be There

The prices one will have to pay to visit the Garden will greatly vary, depending on many factors like weather, attendance patterns and how far in advance you buy your tickets. Starting February 1, the Garden introduced a new pricing structure that includes its first-ever admission fee for non-members, which ranges from $9.95 to $25.95 per adult (child tickets start at $7.95 for ages 3-12; children under 3 are still free). If one buys the tickets way in advance, up to two months before visiting, they will be significantly cheaper. Also, off-season tickets – such as, for instance, late-winter as the period we are in now – will be more affordable than peak season tickets, like during spring and summer or the holiday season. So, even if you can’t afford the higher priced tickets, you will still have the possibility to admire the Garden when fewer people are doing it. That might not be as bad, especially since we are still battling the COVID-19 pandemic, and being very close to numerous strangers is not really advisable. 


Plenty to See and Fully Experience in Every Season, Even in Winter

The Chicago Botanic Garden (1000 Lake-Cook Rd, Glencoe IL 60022) is a very beloved destination for city dwellers, but also for those living in the suburban areas. 

The Garden offers so many different attractions it is difficult not to find something you will love there. From simply walking through dozens of very different landscapes, including areas devoted to aquatic flowers, fruits and veggies, roses, prairie plants and woodland vegetation, to really studying the more than 2.6 million permanent plants, spread on almost 285 acres, in case you want to make a career out of taking care of plants, there is very much to do here, including admiring the Bonsai Collection, the Aquatic Garden, Evening Island and more.

Even when it’s cold outside, there is plenty to see and appreciate with all your other senses too. The peaceful atmosphere of nature in winter helps everyone appreciate the simple pleasures of the season. Relax on a walk through the quiet solitude, while taking in the fresh air. Bring binoculars to maybe see some of the Garden’s feathered inhabitants, and don’t forget your camera to capture unexpected beauty. For those who would rather get cozy inside, visiting the greenhouses could be the answer. 


The Orchid Show: Untamed – The Perfect Setting for a Special Moment

Right now, the team is making the last preparations to open The Orchid Show: Untamed, which could be seen between February 12th and March 27th. According to the Garden’s website, this year’s Orchid Show celebrates the unexpected verve of wild orchids. See what happens when sweeps of orchids take over an old secret garden, twine around abandoned pillars, and break through the whimsical spaces of our imagination. In the quiet of winter, you’ll soak up the color and fresh blooms of thousands of orchids and other tropical plants.

If simply seeing the blooms doesn’t cut it for you, treat yourself and friends to a night out at Orchids After Hours, featuring cocktails and light bites for purchase, and an evening look at the Orchid Show. Open Thursday evenings and Valentine’s Day, 5 to 8 p.m. For those appreciating an exotic setting, this might be the perfect opportunity to plan something really special. Who knows, maybe this could become a cool marriage proposal spot?


Parking Rates Might Help Bring the Price Down for Some

We were saying earlier that prices might not seem so high if you travel to the Garden by car and here is why. 

The new pricing structure has also cut parking costs from the previous (and quite pricey) rate of $25 and up—to a flat rate of $8 per vehicle. That means if you’re visiting via car in a month like February, your true cost of admission might go from $25 to somewhere around $18 plus fees, if you’re traveling alone. The more people you add, the less favorable the prices get, especially if you choose to visit when the weather is nicer. On the brighter side, admission now also includes the price of experiences available during the warmer months, like the 40-minute Grand Tram Tour or access to the Model Railroad Garden. So, if you generally are a person who enjoys add-ons, those savings might make your entrance fee feel all the more worthwhile.

There are no benefits, sadly, for those who come by train or bike, all the money they pay for the  tickets will go towards the higher and higher maintenance costs for the Garden’s 385 acres of plant life.


One Day Itinerary Might Still Include a Free Pass For the Garden, If You Plan It Well

Chicago is one of the most vibrant cities in the whole of the United States, having it all, from bold architecture, to fascinating culture, exquisite cuisine and lively bars and entertainment, from sports to theater and music festivals. With so much on offer, it’s difficult to create a 1 day Chicago itinerary, especially if you’ve never visited the city before, and want to make the most out of it while you’re here. But if you have trouble choosing from all the options this city has to offer, we have come up with the ultimate 1 day Chicago itinerary that you must complete if you’re only here for a short period of time.

And if you’re looking for free things to do in Chicago, don’t cross the Chicago Botanic Garden off your list, you might still have a chance, since the Garden is going to offer 52 free admission days per year for Illinois residents, with dates starting this month. You just have to plan better to enjoy the wonders of nature.   

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