Chicago Botanic Garden Zig Zag BridgerSince it opened more than 45 years ago, the Chicago Botanic Gardens has matured into one of the world’s greatest living museums and conservation science centers. With more than 1 million visitors annually, this North Shore destination is worth the stop for any native or visitor to Illinois.

The Chicago Botanic Gardens is made up of 27 gardens and an additional four natural areas, which can all be reached by foot or by the Gardens’ tram service. The Gardens are uniquely situated on 385 acres on and around nine islands, with six miles right on the Lake Michigan shoreline.

One site the Gardens are most renowned for is the Bonsai Collection, which boasts nearly 200 species of bonsai plants. There is also a sensory garden: an area meant for visitors to see, smell, hear and even touch the flowers and plants there . The Gardens also include a number of family-friendly attractions, like the Children’s Growing Garden, a place for kids of all ages to engage with nature as they learn to water, weed and harvest plants. 

No two visits to the Gardens are the same. The season, weather and a regularly changing calendar of events can all have an impact on the kinds of sights and experiences the Gardens can provide.

The Chicago Botanic Gardens are located in Glencoe and open every day of the year. Admission to the Gardens is free, but there is a fee for parking for non-members. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, visitors much pre-register to visit. More information on the Gardens and how to visit can be found on their website here.

meerkats zoo animals zoological gardenIt’s time to meet some of the most exotic animals in the world, because today is National Zoo Lovers Day! Illinois is home to many zoos that provide residents and tourists the opportunity to witness some extraordinary and loveable animals.

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Charles MoundCharles Mound is the highest natural point in Illinois, at 1,235 feet above sea level. It’s located on rolling farmland, 11 miles north of the Mississippi River town of Galena and less than half a mile from the Wisconsin border.

The northwest area of Illinois is part of a unique geological region called the “Driftless Area.” The land was not covered by glaciers during the last Ice Age, which created a tall plateau cut by deep river valleys, most notably around the Mississippi River.

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Susan Lawrence Dana House 7167054249The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is offering virtual tours of the Dana Thomas House historic site in Springfield. Designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the house is thought to have one of the most intact interiors designed by Wright in the United States. Take a fun and informative journey through a piece of American history.

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Second City2

If you watched the Golden Globes this past Sunday, you might have recognized a few famous actors, actresses and comedians that got their start through Chicago’s world-famous improv comedy theater, The Second City.

Founded by Bernard Sahlins, Paul Sills and Howard Alk, the improvisational comedy theater opened its doors in December of 1959. The venue put on shows that were a mix of semi-improvised and scripted scenes, often offering satirical commentary on current events. At first, the theater hosted one resident company, but that quickly expanded to two, and soon multiple touring companies also took the stage.

Today, The Second City still resides in Chicago with training centers in Toronto and Hollywood. Locations offer classes to aspiring comedians and a circulating lineup of themed shows.

The list of award-winning actors who got their start at The Second City is long, with many going on to find fame in well-known movies or on shows like Saturday Night Live. Alumni of The Second City include Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Bill Murray, Eugene Levy, John Belushi, Chris Farley, Stephen Colbert, Steve Carrell and Aidy Bryant, just to name a few.

With awards show season upon us, take note of how many nominees might have gotten their start at this stronghold of comedy, based right here in Illinois.

For more information on The Second City visit their website.