This is the post for you to snag the the Chicago Nature Museum best tips!! The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum has always been one of my favorite Chicago museums with very young kids.
It’s much smaller than some of the behemoths – like the Field Museum and Museum of Science and Industry. It’s manageable, easy to navigate, and packed with fun for little ones. The hallways are wide and carpeted – perfect for doublewide strollers and toddling walkers to freely explore!
Things to See at the Chicago Nature Museum – Main Level
On the main level we enjoy the water exhibit and amphibian and reptile exhibits. The kids’ play area is another must-see on the main level, which includes lots of habitats for make believe play, a treehouse, and slide. This is a great “yes space” for kids to touch anything and explore everything. This enclosed play area also has a gate, making it a safe option for solo adults adventuring with multiple kids.
Things to See at the Museum – Upper Level
There’s lots more to see on the upper level as well. Our favorite exhibit is the butterfly haven. It’s such a hidden oasis, and stepping inside is magical for both kids and adults. Scheduled butterfly releases occur daily, so check what time the release will take place! My kids also enjoy the taxidermy exhibits featuring different habitats from around the US.
Logistics and Parking
This is a smaller museum, and you can definitely see most of the museum in 2-3 hours. You can certainly stay longer as well, but it’s a great museum for a smaller half day trip!
There is free parking all along Cannon Drive in front of the museum. If you cannot find parking on Cannon Drive, there is a large pay to park lot attached to the Lincoln Park Zoo. You can walk from this lot to the Nature Museum. An accessible parking lot is near the museum entrance for those who qualify to use it, and there is also a bus stop directly in front of the museum – big excitement whether of not you’re actually taking the bus.
In the past the museum was free for IL residents on Thursdays. At this time there is no charge for admission on the following Thursdays: July 22, July 29, August 5, August 12, August 19, and August 26 (summer of 2021); however, these are suggested donation days.
Chicago Nature Museum Best Tips – 3 Secrets You Might Not Know
- Live in Chicago? Grab a library pass and go for FREE! The Chicago Public Library has a system called Kids’ Museum Passports – they are free museum passes for card holders. Stop by the circulation desk, and you can see which passes are available. While very popular passes (like Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum) can be hard to snag, in my experience the pass for the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum is often available. Passes are valid for 2 adults, 2 kids, and you can keep it for 7 days. Details on the passes are here.
- Feel free to bring a cooler of food in the bottom of your stroller. There are outdoor tables and lots of trails and spots around the exterior of the museum that are perfect for a picnic, and there is also an indoor cafeteria. Currently no food is sold at the museum (as of July 2021).
- Want to keep the party going? The museum is very close to Lincoln Park Zoo, the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool, and Lincoln Park Conservatory – all are free. If you want to make a day trip out of the adventure, you can load the kids in the stroller and walk over to the zoo, lily pool, or conservatory!
It’s my goal to share low lift (doable!) ideas for adventuring, play, and parenting – this museum checks all the boxes! Thanks for reading the Chicago Nature Museum Best Tips with Kids, so that you can have a wonderful visit!!
Love adventures with your kids?! Be sure to check out the Best Museum Tips with Kids here!
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