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Children's Garden

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Prevention

The Morton Arboretum is currently reopening its grounds and buildings in phases, with adjusted hours and operations aimed at protecting public health during the ongoing response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. Starting June 15, the Visitor Center, The Arboretum Store, and the Ginkgo café will reopen with modified operations. The Plant Clinic, the Ginkgo Restaurant, the Sterling Morton Library, the Thornhill Education Center, the Children’s Garden and Maze Garden remain closed. Manual wheelchairs and strollers will not be available for loan until further notice. Please see the Phased Reopening of Buildings page for further details and updates. Please reference the admission and timed-entry FAQ for details on visiting the Arboretum during the phased reopening.

For more information regarding the Arboretum’s coronavirus (COVID-19) prevention efforts, please visit this webpage.

Stay connected with the Arboretum during this time through online learning opportunities, and by following Arboretum FacebookTwitter, and Instagram social media channels.

Children's Garden

The Children's Garden is currently closed until further notice. Check this Arboretum webpage for ongoing updates.

At The Morton Arboretum, imagination lives, curiosity grows, and kids flourish in the Children’s Garden. 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.

The Children's Garden includes two main garden areas: Backyard Discovery Gardens and Adventure Woods, linked by a Central Plaza. The three areas incorporate ten themed gardens, each with engaging and interactive activities that children will find irresistible.


A map of the Children's Garden at The Morton Arboretum.

PDF iconPrintable Map of Children's Garden (PDF)


Central Plaza

Central Plaza is the entrance to the garden and serves as a space for orientation, gathering, public events, and making connections to other areas of the Children's Garden. learn more

Kids' Tree Walk and Tree Finder Grove

Backyard Discovery Gardens

Backyard Discovery Gardens present familiar things that children might recognize in their own backyard, in a way that encourages deeper exploration. learn more

Curiosity Garden
Bloom, Zoom, & Sprout
Every Which Way
Windmill Garden

Adventure Woods 

Adventure Woods present the world beyond the backyard and show how the trees and plants in the Children's Garden reflect those of the Arboretum at large and the rest of the natural world. learn more

Wonder Pond
Under the Trees
Grotto and Secret Stream
Grassy Meadow
Evergreen Walk and Lookout


March through October
9:30 a.m - 5:00 p.m. daily
Thursdays, open until 6:00 p.m.
Members only: Fridays and Saturdays, 9:00 - 9:30 a.m.

November through February
Daily, 9:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. 

Closed during severe weather and Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult while visiting the Children's Garden.

A family stands in front of a giant watering can

Water Features 

Be sure to check out our giant watering can that acts as a mister. Learn how it feels to be a plant that is being watered. The mister will be active from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend.

Kid and Family Programs

Drop-in nature activities at the Children's Garden are just the beginning of The Morton Arboretum's educational programs to get the entire family hooked on science, nature, and trees. LEARN MORE


The tadpoles that hatch each spring in the Children's Garden are American toads. This is a natural occurrence and their arrival depends on the temperature of the water.


Beyond the Children's Garden 

To nurture your family's love of nature, we recommend you also explore beyond the Children's Garden. There are paths to bike or hike on, groves of trees to explore, and gardens with interpretation to enrich your experience. We've added two nature play spaces on our grounds! Near Parking Lot 20 you'll find Mud Kitchen, depending on the weather, children (and adults!) can make mud pies, dirt cakes, or snow cones if you visit in the winter. Word Garden is near Parking Lot 13; this garden features rocks painted with words, letters, and pictures. Nature play spaces are designed for creative, unstructured, outdoor play!


Room to Explore

The entire Arboretum has been certified as a Nature Explore Classroom, rich with opportunities for healthy learning. The unique areas of the Children's Garden work as casual, outdoor classrooms that blend active learning and multi-sensory adventures. They include interactive elements like musical instruments made of natural materials, gardens designed to encourage home planting (some managed by students), and natural materials for visitors to build and create art. Research consistently shows that children who learn and grown in Nature Explore Classrooms exhibit enhanced concentration, develop creativity and problem-solving techniques, manage stress in healthy ways and develop skills across the spectrum of academic and creative learning. 

Nature Explore Certified Classroom logo