Maps and Guides

Visiting with Children

Family members of all ages can connect and experience a fun-filled visit surrounded by trees and nature.

Content Detail

Plan Ahead

The Morton Arboretum is the perfect place for family members of all ages to connect and experience a fun-filled visit surrounded by nature. Centrally located 25 miles west of Chicago, the Arboretum is just west of Interstate 355 and north of I-88 on Illinois Route 53 in DuPage County. As you consider the Arboretum for your next family outing, be sure to explore these downloadable and printer-friendly maps which highlight paved and chipped-wood paths, visitor facilities, tree collections, gardens, water features, and more. Review these helpful visiting tips and the Know Before You Go web page for important safety guidelines.

Hours, Admission, and Membership

Hours

The Arboretum is open daily from 7:00 a.m. to sunset. Hours of operation change seasonally. The Children’s Garden is open every day, with exclusive members-only access during the morning. 

Guest admission

For information on how to reserve date-specific, timed-entry passes or tickets online, visit the Know Before You Visit and Admission and Timed-Entry FAQ pages for details.  

  • Adults, ages 18–64, $16 ($11 Wednesdays*)
  • Children, ages 2–17, $11 ($8 Wednesdays*)
  • Children age 1 and younger are free.
  • Seniors, ages 65 and older,  $14 ($8 Wednesdays*)

*Admission is discounted on Wednesdays.

Membership

Interested in becoming a member? The Morton 4 membership is the most popular family offering. You can find a membership level  for any size family. Members receive multiple benefits, including free admission, discounts on educational programs, discounted tickets for guests, special programs, and so much more. Join today!

Discounted admission

The Morton Arboretum offers discounted admission to: 

  • Active duty military and their families. 
  • Members of other arboretums and botanical gardens (some exclusions apply).
  • Museums for All participants.

Learn more>

What to Bring

For your family

  • Face masks. Guests over the age of two are required to wear masks inside all Arboretum buildings and the Children’s Garden in accordance with current State of Illinois requirements. Masks are required outdoors in spaces and situations when people cannot maintain a social distance of six feet or greater with people not in their visiting party.
  • Wheelchair, if needed. Wheelchair rental is not available during modified operations. View the Accessibility Guide for more information.
  • Printed or downloaded maps of the Arboretum grounds.
  • Walking shoes, water-repellent shoes, or boots for inclement weather.
  • Layers of clothing so you can add or remove layers to maintain your comfort level.
  • Sun hats and sunscreen if you will be in the sun.

For children

  • Masks are required for children over the age of two in designated areas.
  • Plan for wet and dirty play. Have an extra set of clothes handy. If your child is too young to walk long distances, bring a stroller.
  • Sandals or aqua shoes for the Secret Stream and Wonder Pond in the Children’s Garden.
  • Light-colored, long-sleeved shirts and long pants to protect against insects and poison ivy.
  • Insect repellent containing DEET for ticks.
  • Sun hats and sunscreen, if you will be in the sun.

What to Leave at Home

While we know that your pet is an important family member, please leave dogs and other pets at home, as they are not permitted in vehicles or on the grounds. Exceptions are made on specially designated Dog Admission Days and for service animals. 

Although Wonder Pond and Secret Stream are exciting interactive water experiences, please leave swimsuits at home. Additionally, balls, kites, rollerblades, Segways, drones, scooters, skateboards, and fishing equipment are prohibited on the Arboretum grounds. Please help us maintain a peaceful environment that prioritizes safety and the well-being of members, guests, employees, volunteers, and tree collections. View the full list of prohibited items and activities here. 

Gatehouse

Please have your timed-entry member passes or admission tickets ready when you reach the gatehouse to ensure a smooth entry process. The friendly Gatehouse attendant will be able to provide a paper map, answer preliminary questions, and direct you as needed.

Parking

Parking is free at the Arboretum. Guests will find 33 parking lots along the roads winding through the Arboretum, all indicated on the maps. Parking Lot 1 (P1) is nearest to the Visitor Center, Children’s Garden, restrooms, and dining areas, and is a popular parking area for families with kids. Located near the Thornhill Education Center, Parking Lot 21 (P21) is another main parking area for educational programs and exploring the Arboretum’s West Side.

Accessibility

The Morton Arboretum welcomes members and guests of all abilities and strives to create a safe, enjoyable, and engaging experience for all. Visit the Accessibility Guide for additional information. Please direct accessibility-related questions to the Visitor Services team at 630-968-0074 or trees@mortonarb.org. Learn about accessible areas at the Arboretum, including the Children’s Garden. Select sensory-friendly events are also available. 

Visitor Center

The Arboretum’s Visitor Center is a central hub of activity and the perfect place to start your adventure. Stop by the Information Desk and Membership Services to get your visit off to a great start, to borrow strollers (when available), purchase tram ride tickets, and more. Browse The Arboretum Store for gifts for the whole family (yourself included!). The Ginkgo Café and Restaurant offer healthy and delicious dining options in a kid-friendly environment. The Visitor Center is a popular place to meet with friends, warm up in the winter, and cool down on hot summer days. The Visitor Center houses accessible restrooms, including a designated family restroom option with a changing station.

 

Restrooms and Changing Areas

Restrooms facilities with changing areas are located in the Visitor Center, West Pavilion, Children’s Garden (Central Plaza), and Thornhill Education Center. Family restrooms are available in the Visitor Center East and West Pavilions and the Children’s Garden. Portable restrooms without changing areas are available throughout the Arboretum, including in the bus lot (Visitor Center parking area), Big Rock Visitor Station (Parking Lot 13 on the East Side), and Prairie Visitor Station (Parking Lot 25 on the West Side).

Where to Eat

Explore family-friendly menus at the Ginkgo Café and Restaurant, featuring fresh and delicious kid’s menu options and a comfortable dining area for a break during your visit. Pack a picnic to enjoy among the trees. Picnic areas are located near P1 and Meadow Lake, and inside the Children’s Garden near the Central Plaza and across from the restrooms. 

Children’s Garden

Bring your family to The Morton Arboretum’s award-winning Children’s Garden, where imagination lives, curiosity grows, and kids flourish. Splash through secret streams, climb colossal acorns, and slide down giant tree roots all day long. Explore, learn, and play among trees and the natural world. Download a printable map to get an overview of all activities and play areas located within this immersive 4-acre garden. The Children’s Garden includes two main garden areas: Backyard Discovery Gardens and Adventure Woods, linked by a Central Plaza that features restrooms, a picnic area, and party space for birthdays and more. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult while visiting the Children’s Garden.

Maze Garden

The puzzling one-acre Maze Garden at The Morton Arboretum offers an adventure for young and old alike. Try to find your way through this living puzzle. Every adventure is different. The maze changes from season to season. If you’d rather watch from above, climb the stairs to a 12-foot- high lookout platform built around a stunning 60-foot-tall sycamore tree. There, you’ll enjoy a bird’s-eye view of your family as they navigate the maze.

A toddler maze offers a mini-challenge to the youngest of Arboretum visitors. Please note, the Arboretum may close the Maze Garden during periods of inclement weather. 

Family-friendly Trails

For little ones

Near the central Visitor Center area, you will find several stroller-accessible paved trails that the whole family can enjoy. Take a walk around Meadow Lake, with plenty of shady spots to stop and observe nature along the route. The Ground Cover Garden adjacent to Arbor Court is a beautiful and biodiverse path that winds through beautiful trees and colorful plants. Venturing out a bit further, explore the Conifer Walk, which winds around the perimeter of the Children’s Garden. 

On the West Side, park at P21 near the Thornhill Education Center and explore the Fragrance Garden and Joy Path, named after the Arboretum’s founder, Joy Morton. 

For big kids

On the Arboretum’s East Side, park near the Big Rock Visitor Station (P13) to explore the chipped Woodland Trail or venture out further to see Big Rock, a boulder deposited by a melting glacier, along the longer Heritage Trail. If you head in the opposite direction across the Main Route road, you will find the Arboretum’s iconic Spruce Plot and continue down Main Loop 3 through the Oaks, Maples, and Beeches collections. 

On the Arboretum’s West Side, park near the Prairie Visitor Station (P25) to hike through Main Loops 3 and 4, where you and your family will see a variety of habitats, including the Schulenberg Prairie, Willoway Brook, Sterling Pond, and the gorgeous Pine Hill.

Both the Big Rock Visitor Station and Prairie Visitor Station have portable restrooms and hand-washing stations, picnic areas, and accessible parking.

Nature Play Areas

The Morton Arboretum features two Nature Play Spaces that are designed for creative, unstructured, outdoor play. These spaces are great spots to play games, tell stories, and make your own set of rules. Located on the East Side near P13, the Word Garden features rocks painted with words, letters, and pictures to allow you and your child to express yourselves in this quiet, creative nook. On the West Side near P20, you will also find the Mud Kitchen, which features a tree stump stove, pots, pans, and a shelving unit inside the cabin. A pit of dirt is paired with assorted digging tools. Tree stump tables and chairs wait outside the cabin. Depending on the weather, children (and adults!) can make mud pies, dirt cakes, or snow cones if you visit in the winter.

The Sterling Morton Library

Located in the Administration and  Research Center, the Sterling Morton Library is a quiet place to unwind during an active visit to the Arboretum, featuring stunning architecture and its intimate garden—the May T. Watts Reading Garden—a perfect place to spend a summer’s day reading a good book with your family. 

 There is plenty to explore, from the educational Plant Hunters exhibit to interactive quiet play areas for little kids that include puzzles and other age-appropriate activities. During the colder months, November through March, stop by the library on Fridays at 11:00 a.m. for Arbor Reading Adventures, an interactive storytime for children ages 2-6 accompanied by an adult. 

Exhibitions

Human+Nature: Opening spring 2021

The Morton Arboretum’s newest major exhibition, Human+Nature (pronounced: Human Nature), highlights the deep connections between people and trees. Trees and nature have the power to refresh and re-center us, reconnecting each of us to the living world. Built to create a sense of awe and wonder, five massive sculptures are featured within the backdrop of the Arboretum’s magnificent and mature tree collections. Grand in size and appearance (20 to 25 feet tall), the sculptures are crafted especially for Arboretum guests.

Biking

Hop on your bicycle and explore the expansive grounds in a new and adventurous way. You have access to nine miles of paved roads that wind through the Arboretum’s magnificent tree collections. Bike rentals are offered for cyclists of all ages during the summer months (depending on availability). Bike racks are available at the Visitor Center, Big Rock and Prairie Visitor stations, and at the Thornhill Education Center. View full Bicycling Guidelines. 

Please note, bikes are only allowed on the Main Route road and are not permitted on chipped or paved trails. 

Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing

On winter days, snowshoe and cross-country ski rentals are available when four inches or more of snow has accumulated on the Arboretum grounds. On such days, designated trails are groomed with classic-style skiing in mind. Even with plenty of snow, conditions vary and can affect rental hours. Please call the Visitor Center Information Desk at 630-968-0074 before your visit to confirm rental availability. Visit this page to learn more about seasonal availability, hours, and rates.

 

Educational Opportunities

Get your kids and entire family immersed in science, nature, and trees at one of the many family and kid programs at The Morton Arboretum.

Summer Science Camps

Unlock your child’s imagination with interactive outdoor adventures among 1,700 acres of trees at The Morton Arboretum or in your own backyard. Through science experiments, art, and creative play, the Arboretum’s innovative Summer Science Camps will inspire your child to become a Tree Champion. Discover more than 100 camps for children in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade, designed by Arboretum experts.

Youth and family classes

Empower your children to explore the outdoors and ask questions about what they encounter. The Morton Arboretum youth and family classes teach children about trees, about animal homes, and about how to use all your senses in nature. The classes focus on empowering you to become your child’s nature guide. The Morton Arboretum’s early childhood experts lead tailored programs to meet the learning needs and curiosities of each age group, from 18 months to 12 years. Programs are offered throughout the year at reasonable rates. Explore the Arboretum’s full list of offerings.

Little Trees

Play, explore, discover, and learn in this tree-centered early childhood program where preschoolers are spontaneous STEM learners, with Arboretum staff members as their guides. The September through May program takes advantage of the Arboretum’s extensive outdoor collections and programming resources to immerse children in a variety of outdoor exploratory experiences in a stimulating, rewarding environment. Children have the opportunity to play and observe nature throughout the changing seasons while developing literacy skills, social and emotional communication and intelligence, and self-confidence, through an exploration of their surroundings. Learn more about Little Trees.

Youth Volunteer Program

This multi-year program offers teens opportunities to explore environmental education, tree science, and STEM experiences while helping others. The activities are designed for youth entering grades 7, 8, or 9 who enjoy being outdoors, working with children, and gardening. The program is intended to be a multiple-year experience, as volunteers may return to the program each summer through high school. Learn more!

Become a Member

When a trip to the Arboretum inspires you to explore more, become a member to visit again and again.

Join now