When life gets a little too crazy, take a trip to the Chicago Botanic Garden to stop and smell the roses...and the geraniums, daisies, irises, bonsai trees, prairie grasses...you get the picture. Or maybe you don't. Because with 23 gardens, three natural areas and a total of 385 acres of land, this is the kind of place you definitely need to see (and smell) for yourself.
Check it all out on your own (grab a free map at the Visitor's Center for some guidance) or get a little help via an educational Garden tour. Tours are given by foot ($10; must be pre-arranged) and by tram ($5; buy your ticket at the entrance), and will fill you with more flower-knowledge than you ever thought you needed.
Whichever route you choose, the sights and smells of this impressively large and well-kept garden will not disappoint. Walk among the waterways, woods and bridges to find all the garden has to offer. Visitor-favorites include the English Walled Garden, the Waterfall Garden and Evening Island (five acres of gardens set apart from the rest of the sights by the Great Basin).
The best non-floral feature? Entrance is free. The worst? Parking is not ($12; you can bike on a designated path from the city, though). Save a few dollars by packing your own lunch and eating it in the designated picnic area; or spend a little and dine at the Garden Cafe or the Garden Grill. Both places are a tad pricey, considering the basic food that's offered (plain old sandwiches, burgers, etc.), making it a good thing that visitors are more interested in geraniums than grub.
Centerstage Reviewer: Ashley Hamilton