Parking  |  Donate  |  Join


Summer fun for families at the Chicago Botanic Garden

Dance to live music, watch high-flying kites, marvel at beautiful butterflies

Jasmine Leonas, (847) 835-6829

Event Date: 
Release Date: 
Friday, June 15, 2018

School’s out and the sun is up, making outdoor fun for families a summer must do. Find plenty of activities for every age group at the Chicago Botanic Garden all season long. 

Throughout the season

  • Model Railroad Garden Train and garden enthusiasts alike return every year for the delightful sights and sounds of the miniature trains traversing high and low through tunnels, across bridges, and around close to 50 miniature American landmarks, intricately handcrafted with natural materials. Admission fee applies. (Through Sunday, October 21, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
  • Butterflies & Blooms Immerse yourself in a habitat filled with hundreds of live butterflies. Visitors can also observe butterflies emerging through a window into the pupa emergence room. (Through Sunday, September 3, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
  • Carillon Concert Enjoy an enchanting one-hour musical performance of carillon bells on a warm summer evening and watch lights illuminate Evening Island. Meet the performers and enjoy a free carillon tour and demonstration before the concert—you can even try your hand at ringing the bells. (Mondays; tours and demonstrations from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., concerts from 7 to 8 p.m.)
  • Tuesday Morning Music Hear chamber music, jazz, and even Spanish guitar. Free concerts in the McGinley Pavilion, rain or shine. (Tuesdays, from 10 to 11 a.m.)
  • Music on the Esplanade Each Tuesday evening brings a different kind of music, from jazz to swing to country, and more. Watch the sun set over the Smith Fountain. (Tuesdays, 6 to 8 p.m.)
  • Dancin’ Sprouts Enjoy free musical entertainment for kids in the Krasberg Rose Garden. Bring the whole family and enjoy live music in an idyllic summer setting. (Wednesdays, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.)
  • Hot Summer Nights Bring your dancing friends and kick it up a notch with high-energy music as you dance to the upbeat tempo of a host of diverse genres in the Rose Garden. (Thursdays, 6 to 8 p.m.)
  • Family Drop-In Activities Learn how plants grow and about the animals you might find at the Garden. Pollinate flowers, compost with worms, build a life-size bird nest, explore underwater life and more. Activities vary from week to week. Held at the Regenstein Learning Campus; activities move indoors to the Astellas Atrium in inclement weather. (Daily; June 2 through August 26, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
  • Kleinman Family Cove Drop-In Activities Bring your wading boots to the Kleinman Family Cove and learn about the plants and animals that depend on our waterways. Guided wading, educational activities about aquatic life and aquatic themed arts and crafts will be available. (Saturdays and Sundays; June 16 & 17, July 21 & 22 and August 11 & 12, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
  • Malott Japanese Garden Family Sundays Drop by the Elizabeth Hubert Malott Japanese Garden for hands-on activities related to Japanese arts and culture. Kids of all ages can make projects to celebrate summer – make fish prints (gyotaku), create a paper fan (uchiwa), design a samurai helmet (kabuto), and more, at family-friendly, hands-on stations. (Sundays, June 17; July 1, 15; August 5; September 2, 16; 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
  • Nature Play Garden, Grunsfeld Children’s Growing Garden and Kleinman Family Cove Head to the Regenstein Learning Campus and visit three of our newest spaces, constructed with children in mind. The Nature Play Garden features a series of multisensory areas, including rolling hills, a willow tunnel, a boulder for climbing, a water feature and natural “rooms” defined by arborvitae and hornbeams. The Grunsfeld Children’s Growing Garden is an ideal space for children to engage with gardening, with raised beds at their level and hands-on opportunities to water, weed and harvest plants. The Kleinman Family Cove is a center for teaching about the importance of water, a place to investigate aquatic plants and animals, and a resource for water conservation information.


  • Summer Solstice Celebration Day Unwind on the longest day of the year at the Garden’s new summer solstice event. Drop-in wellness program will be offered all day, including yoga, tai chi and meditation. Summer solstice-themed family drop-in activities will be available. Free sunflower plants will be offered. (Thursday, June 21, 9 a.m. to sunset)
  • Art Festival Stroll and shop among 100 juried artists on the Esplanade. This is one-of-a-kind art festival brings botanic-themed and botanic-made photography, paintings, ceramics, cement, metal, fiber, wood, jewelry and other pieces to the Garden. (Saturday and Sunday, June 30 and July 1, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)


  • Farmers’ Market Our third annual market highlights some of the Chicago area’s best farmers, bakers and artisans in a gathering on the Esplanade. Talk with vendors and sample fresh fare. (Saturday and Sunday, July 14 and 15, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) 


  • Kite Festival Enjoy soaring stunt-kite performances set to music by members of the Chicago Fire Kite Team and members of the Kite Society of Wisconsin & Illinois. The Kite Festival will take place in the meadow west of Evening Island. (Saturday and Sunday, August 11 and 12, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.)
  • Heirloom Fest: Tomatoes & More Get new ideas about everyone’s garden favorite, tomatoes—along with many other summer-fresh vegetables—with programs focused on growing and using heirloom varieties. Family activities include a tomato toss, “Sorting Supper” game, and making an herb mix to create a delicious pasta sauce at home. (Saturday and Sunday, August 25 and 26, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
  • Bike the Garden Bicyclists of all ages are allowed to ride the full perimeter of the Garden this one day of the year. Participants in this free event will be able to ride on the East and West Roads, enabling access to areas that are usually off-limits to bicyclists. After the ride, come to the McDonald Woods pavilion to enjoy the festivities, check out the vendors and learn at the information tables. (Sunday, August 26; registration from 7 to 7:30 a.m., event from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m.)


  • Sukkot Family Activities Celebrate the Jewish harvest holiday. Families are invited to help decorate the branch-covered sukkah, which will be on display in the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden. Activities provided by JCC Chicago. (Sunday, September 23, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.)
  • Harvest Weekend Learn how to harvest, preserve and store your homegrown produce of Farmers’ Market bounty during Harvest Weekend. Join us at the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden for “how-to” demonstrations, shopping from local vendors, hands-on activities for kids and families, Garden Chef Series presentations, a cookbook swap, and more. (Saturday and Sunday, September 29 and 30, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.) 

Youth & Family programs (registration and fees required)

  • Nature Nights Bring a picnic dinner and spend an evening at the Garden. Children ages 4 to 10 and their families will explore different areas of the Garden and enjoy a variety of discovery-based activities. Each Nature Nights also includes a short tram ride, planting project, and s’mores around the campfire. More information at:
  • Kids’ Night Out Drop off your kids at the ITW Kitchen, where they will prepare a meal together, decorate a pot to start their own kitchen garden, and explore the Grunsfeld Children’s Growing Garden at night. We’ll have them fed and ready for your bedtime routine when you pick them up at the end of your date night. More information at:


Editors, please note: For digital images, contact Julie McCaffrey at (847) 835-8213 or at

Interact with the Garden for this and other Garden events and programs: