Explore Nature Indoors in Lake County

Don’t let the cold temperatures and muddy ground keep you from getting up-close and personal with nature.  There are many places nearby that you can smell flowers, touch reptiles, walk among butterflies, and shake away those cold weather blues. So–grab the kids, your camera, and get inside and explore some nature.

explore nature indoors

Explore Nature in Lake County

Chicago Botanic Garden, Glencoe
Photo Source Chicago Botanic Garden website

Chicago Botanic Garden
1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe | (847) 835-5440 | Facebook
Admission is free, parking is $20.
While much of the grounds are outdoors, the Chicago Botanic Garden boasts several indoor greenhouses. I went last year with my boyfriend on Valentine’s Day and it was so nice to be able to see palm trees, cacti, and flowers blooming (without wearing a jacket) when I was so used to seeing snow. On Monday’s the host a storytime as well.

Crabtree Nature Center
3 Stover Road, Barrington Hills | 847-381-6592
Admission is free.
An exhibit building and nature workshops make this center a great choice to go and spend an afternoon on any day of the year.

Kohl Childrens Museum, Glenview
Photo Source Kohl Children’s Museum website.

Kohl Children’s Museum
2100 Patriot Boulevard, Glenview | (847) 832-6600
Admission is $11 per person.
The Kohl Children’s Museum has many exhibits related to nature such as Nature Explorers, Turtle Rock, Habitat Park, and Powered by Nature.  My son’s favorite is definitely the Nature Explorers exhibit that has a pretend pond, bridge, and boat.

Heller Nature Center
2821 Ridge Road, Highland Park | (847)433-6901
Admission is Free.
Owned and operated by the Park District of Highland Park, The Heller Nature Center has a lot to offer. There are children’s nature classes for kids as young as four, camps, birthday parties, and after school programs.

Prairie Grass Nature Museum
Image courtesy of the Prairie Grass Nature Museum

Prairie Grass Nature Museum
860 Hart Road, Round Lake | (847) 740-9823
Admission is free.
Explore the ecology of Lake County at the free Prairie Grass Nature Museum.  At this museum you will find habitats, live animals, and many more activities. In addition, they offer a variety of nature-related programs for both families and adults, year-round.

River Trail Nature Center, Northbrook
Photo Source River Trail Nature Center Facebook page

River Trail Nature Center
3120 Milwaukee Ave, Northbrook | 847-824-8360 
Admission is  free.
River Trail Nature Center tells the story of native plants and animals that remain in the area. Younger children may enjoy River Trail’s nature discovery area, where kids can climb in an eagle’s nest, crawl in a fox den, create their own puppet shows, and more. Programs and special events are held throughout the year.  One not to miss is the program, “Whats on the Menu”  where you can see the feeding time of various wild animals.

The Grove Interpretive Center
1421 Milwaukee Ave, Glenview | (847) 299-6096 
FREE Admission
The Grove is owned and operated by the Glenview Park District. The center is run by volunteers and is home to countless birds, native plants, snakes, turtles, and fish.  Children and adults can learn about nature through hands-on exhibits and workshops. 

Wildlife Discovery Center, Lake Forest
Photo Source City of Lake Forest website

Wildlife Discovery Center
1401 Middlefork Drive, Lake Forest | (847) 234-2600
Admission is free for families with less than eight people, but donations are recommended.
The Wildlife Discovery Center is one of Lake County’s hidden gems.  Visitors come face-to-face with a variety of reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals. There are also interpretive trails and nature-based programs for all to enjoy. In addition, there are classes, story times, and other events. Check out Loralies 2012 review!

Volo Bog, Volo
Photo Source Friends of Volo Bog Facebook page

Volo Bog State Natural Area
28478 W. Brandenburg Rd. Ingleside | 815-344-1294
Admission is free.
While most people think of the Volo Bog as a place for primarily outdoor activities; that is not true. They have an indoor visitor’s center that was formerly an old dairy barn. Inside the visitor’s center is a program room, restrooms, exhibits, a gift shop, a hands-on discovery area, and a library.


Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, Chicago
Water play at the Nature Museum. © M. Haak | Little Lake County.com | 2015

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
2430 N. Cannon Dr., Chicago | 773-755-5100
FREE admission on Thursdays.
With a butterfly garden, hands-on habitats, animals, insects, reptiles, and water play exhibits, visiting this museum is a wonderful way to spend a day in the city. Check out Melissa’s 2015 review.

©T. Rubel | Little Lake County.com | 2015
©T. Rubel | Little Lake County.com | 2015

Shedd Aquarium
1200 S. Lake Shore Dr, Chicago | (312) 939-2438
Admission is $8 (adults) , $6 (children)
Meet over 32,000 different animals and take a peek at their habitats. If you have time, try and get there around lunch time when they feed all the fish in the giant tank.  We went last year on a free day and my son got to touch a stingray and a starfish, which was a great experience. Want to save money? Go on one of the free days for Illinois Residents.

The Field Museum, Chicago
Photo Source The Field Museum website.

The Field Museum1400 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago | (312) 922-9410
Admission is $22 (adults), $15 (children). Some exhibits cost additional money.
While most of the museum is not about nature, there are still some exhibits that teach about nature such as Underground Adventures, “For the Birds,”geology rooms, as well as numerous other animal displays. Want to save money? Go on one of the museum free days for Illinois residents.

Where is your favorite place to explore nature indoors? Tell us in the comments! 

About Tracy Rubel 58 Articles
Tracy dreams of someday being considered a “cool” mom and she can still remember the days when she had time to put on makeup in the morning. She is a young, single, stay-at-home mom to an awesome little boy named Jayden. She recently graduated college with a degree in Early Childhood Education and has lived in various parts of Lake County her whole life. Every day, she and her son set off in her Jeep, rocking a pair of oversized sunglasses, in search of a new and exciting adventure to go on. In her free time she enjoys photography, reading, dancing, yoga, shopping, and pinning kid’s activities on Pinterest. She truly believes that if she was given enough Starbucks that she could rule the world.

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