When people think of Chicago, they think of downtown. The Sears (Willis) Tower, Chicago River, the Bean: these are the iconic sights tourists flock to. This trip, I’m skipping downtown and staying in one of the northern suburbs to be closer to my cousins, and I am down the street from one of my new favorite Chicago destinations: the Chicago Botanic Garden.

The Garden covers nearly 400 acres – 1/5 of which is water – and is made up of a number of islands. There is one main island, and several smaller outer ones, connected by bridges. The gardens are diverse, they are beautiful, and admission is free! (Note that parking is expensive, though.)

There is a rose garden, a Japanese garden, an edible garden, a waterfall garden, a model train garden, and even a beer garden!

If you love gardens, you don’t want to miss this!

Above: the Crescent Garden, currently featuring Brazilian plants.

Above: bridges connect the two islands of the Japanese Garden.

Above: a water feature in one of the greenhouses.

Above: the vast lawn of the Rose Garden

Above: the salad I could have had for lunch in the Edible Garden

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