Exploring Nature on Chicago’s North Shore
by Serena Lorien
Discovering Chicago’s North Shore, which borders Chicago along Lake Michigan, is an educational and fun cultural experience, but it’s also natural and beautiful. I recently got to know the parks of the North Shore and was surprised to find such wonderful outdoor areas right outside the heart of Chicago.
Tranquility at the Chicago Botanic Garden
One of the first stops I made was to the vast and stunning Chicago Botanic Garden. To say I was amazed would be an understatement. The sheer variety of gardens, plants and natural areas is truly a sight to behold. The garden covers an area of nearly 400 acres including nine islands, 26 gardens, four natural areas and more than 2.7 million plants. You can traverse the garden on foot or take a guided tram tour.
The Japanese Garden is a peaceful place to soak up the pure beauty of nature as you gaze out over the spectacular island or take a stroll down curving paths. Walk over the arched bridge for an even better view.
The English walled garden was another favorite for me. From the moment I entered the fairy-tale garden, with the sunlight peeking through the gaps in the beautifully constructed “rooms,” any stress just melted away. I enjoyed sitting on one of the perfectly located benches, watching the pretty fountain flow and the butterflies flying around me.
You also won’t want to miss walking around the Bonsai collection with its nearly 200 Bonsai masterpieces situated in two neighboring courtyards. And be sure to go to the waterfall garden, where the soothing sounds of a 45-foot-tall waterfall will transport you.
Evanston Parks and Beaches
A beach near Chicago? It turns out it’s true! Evanston has lakefront beaches that are very popular during the warmer months, from about May to September. Boating, kayaking and fishing are all enjoyed here, not to mention just relaxing on the sand and soaking up a gorgeous, sunny day.
The Impressive Baha´i House of Worship
Another great place to visit is the awe-inspiring Baha’i House of Worship. One of only seven Baha'i temples in the world and the only one in the U.S., this unique structure’s white walls of lace-like ornamentation and its dome rising 135 feet above the main floor, create a scene of unsurpassed beauty and tranquility. It is surrounded by exquisite gardens and fountains. Designated on the National Register of Historic Places.
I enjoyed my trip to Chicago’s North Shore immensely and loved soaking up the varied nature offerings. Getting to the North Shore area is a breeze, with city trains stopping there, so hop on board and explore everything this beautiful and diverse area has to offer.