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A city of superlatives

Chicago has been called the “most American city” for its dizzying melting pot of cultures and its can-do attitude. It has been called the “world capital of modern architecture”, having been given a second chance to build stunning structures after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Its politicians through the decades have been pegged as “colourful”, which in some cases was a gentler word for “corrupt”. Lately Chicago has been singled out as one of the hottest restaurant cities in the United States. It is an exciting time to visit Chicago, no matter where your interests lie.

Heliconius butterflyWildcat Dunny / CC BY 2.0

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Locals' Pick Nature museum in ideal Lincoln Park setting

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Heather Kendall

Founder of Chicago Museum Blog

Looking to be one with nature? Head to Chicago’s own luscious getaway in the exhibit “Judy Istock Butterfly Haven” where exotic butterflies roam or head to the “Hands-on Habitat” to go underground as a worm or chew through wood as a beaver. Find live Chicago area turtles, fish, and snakes in “Mysteries of the Marsh, ” join the nature museum staff as they release the butterflies, or meet one of those resident turtles or snakes in a Creature Connection. These kinds of programs occur daily.

Traveler reviews
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Nature museum in ideal Lincoln Park setting Editors' Note

The location of the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, along Lincoln Park’s North Pond, is ideal. Its $31-million, 73,000sq ft (6,600sq m) building is grand. And the fanfare that greeted its opening in 1999 was enormous.

Still, the Notebaert Nature Museum is a bit of a disappointment, due chiefly to the fact that few of its exhibits are as exciting as they should be. Highlights include the Extreme Green House, a mock bungalow that aims to teach kids domestic science; and the Hands-On Habitat, which aims to teach kids about how animals live. The temporary exhibitions also occasionally hit the mark. But the museum’s main selling point is the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven, a glass topped space populated by over 50 species of butterfly.

The most attractive parts of the museum are the outdoor pond and walkway; these can be enjoyed for free, leaving the admission fee to be invested in a good lunch instead. For a few dollars more, it’s well worth heading to North Pond, one of Chicago’s premier eateries.

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
2430 N Cannon Drive, Chicago
1-773 755 5100
9am- 4.30pm Mon-Fri; 10am-5pm Sat, Sun.