Favorite Gardens in Illinois

Leigh Kunkel
| February 22, 2024 | 4 Minute Read
A still pond in front of a large greenhouse. iStock

Get lost in nature when you visit these beautiful, blooming Illinois gardens.

Garfield Park Conservatory, Chicago

Located on the west side of Chicago, the conservatory (above) houses more than a dozen acres of plants and gardens, representing ecosystems from around the globe. Visit the stunning Fern Room, designed to show what Illinois might have looked like when dinosaurs roamed the plains. In the Desert House, you’ll find cacti and succulents, many of which tower above visitors and some of which even brush against the glass ceiling. Outdoors, 10 acres of gardens include flowers, beehives, a meditation path and a stunning lily pond. You can also stop by the Demonstration Garden to learn about growing produce and composting.

Two young boys play in a man made creek with a rowboat and alligator-shaped fountain. Quad City Botanical Center

Quad City Botanical Center, Rock Island

These beautiful Quad Cities gardens have something for every traveler. Families can stop by the Children’s Garden (above), meant to represent the nearby Mississippi River with native plants, flowing water, and plenty of room to play and explore. Travelers with limited mobility can explore the Ability Garden, where the elevated garden beds make the plants available for visitors without requiring them to bend down. And in Pat’s Garden, you’ll find an enchanted grotto with ferns, fairy homes and even a hobbit house.

Japan House, Urbana

Japan House has been part of the University of Illinois since 1964, and its current iteration opened in 1998 under professor Kimiko Gunji. In addition to the serene tea rooms, where visitors can experience a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, there are also several beautiful outdoor spaces for people to enjoy. The Tea Garden consists of the Inner Garden and Outer Garden, which leads to the indoor tea rooms. The Dry Garden offers a raked gravel bed whose shape reflects the nearby ponds; it offers the opportunity for meditation and quiet reflection. And the grounds of Japan House themselves are located in the University of Illinois Arboretum, which surrounds everything with greenery.

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