The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is all too happy to remind Chicagoans that nature is closer than they think. And while heading indoors may not feel like the most intuitive way to study the world around us, this tightly-packed building, complete with outdoor exhibits, manages to offer something for everyone; exhibits range from the Hands-on Habitat, aimed at the 3-to-7-year-old crowd, to a study of eco-friendly building technology, which sparks discussion amongst adults.
Opened in 1999, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum has hosted more than one million visitors, including countless education programs and kid-friendly special exhibits. If you're supervising someone that's got energy to burn, head to the Hands-on Habitat. Its two-story tree house, bug-vision goggles, wind machine and wiggly worm slide will have you nostalgic for the time when you were knee-high.
To learn more about the real Midwest, stroll through the Wilderness Walk, where prairies, savannas and dunes have been meticulously recreated. Head outdoors to stroll through more than 17,000-square-feet of rooftop gardens; you can also check out the rooftop solar panels, water conservation system and three-story cliff garden.
Perhaps the most popular spot among the post-puberty crowd is the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven, which is home to more than 250 species of butterflies and open year-round. In summer the 2,700-square-foot greenhouse is a relaxing retreat; in winter the splash of color offers a refreshing pick-me-up and a reminder that winter can't last forever.
Tickets are $9 for adults and $6 for children under 12, with free admission on Thursdays.
Centerstage Reviewer: Kate Rockwood