The Morton Arboretum is the jewel of the western suburbs of Chicago. Located in Lisle, IL … this 1,700 acre outdoor museum champions trees from around the world through their vast collections, conservation efforts, and educational programs. If you love trees, care about trees, and want to learn more about trees … the Morton Arboretum is a must see!
A Man of Salt and Trees
Salt magnate Joy Morton established The Morton Arboretum back in 1922. Today this special place holds more than 222,000 live plants representing 4,300 species from around the world. The Arboretum is planned and planted to nurture and display trees and shrubs in environments conducive to their growth.
The Arboretum conducts leading scientific research on tree health and tree improvement, collects and displays trees for study and enjoyment on the grounds, offers educational programming for adults and children, and presents nature-related activities year-round for people of all ages and interests.
Get Outside and Connect with Nature
Besides the varied 16 miles of hiking trails, also on the grounds are the Visitor Center with The Arboretum Store (beautiful selection of nature-inspired goods!) the Ginkgo Restaurant and Café, a four-acre Children’s Garden, a Maze Garden, the Sterling Morton Library, a Plant Clinic, and nine miles of roads.
The arboretum logo features a grand, white oak … the state tree of Illinois. It symbolizes the following: the leaves to the left of the base of the tree represent the years that have passed. The full-grown tree signifies the present. The acorns to the right of the tree anticipate the future.
Take Your Dog for a Walk!
Several times a year dogs are allowed on the arboretum grounds. We recently attended the “Tails on the Trails” event with our dog friend, Bella the yellow lab. She had a ball walking around the lakes and hiking the trails among hundreds of other happy, well-behaved pooches!
Many pet vendors were on hand and, of course, I stopped to buy some homemade dog cookies from a local pet bakery … mini chicken pot pie treats that Bella gobbled down with glee. There were also several pet demonstrations, games and activities for the four-legged guests and their pals. Each dog attendee receives a complimentary arboretum bandana.
How To Navigate the Arboretum
Your first visit to the Morton Arboretum? I highly recommend hopping on the Acorn Express, a narrated one-hour tram ride around the grounds (tickets can be purchased in the Visitors Center). This presents a fantastic overview of the layout of the park … you can also plan what areas you would like to explore further. Each time I’ve taken guests on the tour I learn something new and interesting!
Another way to see the arboretum and all its majesty is to drive on the paved roads on both the east and west side of the park. This is the perfect way to take in the seasonal changes without hiking, especially if you have family members who are unable to navigate by foot, or if you have time constraints. The roads are well-marked and a map is provided at the admission stand as you enter.
De-Stress Among the Trees
Research shows being in nature, reduces stress, anger, and anxiety, plus increases pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical well-being, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones.
“Nature deprivation,” a lack of time in the natural world, largely due to hours spent in front of computer screens or television, has been associated, unsurprisingly, with depression.
I enjoy the Morton Arboretum so much that I became a Member several years ago. When I worked close by, I spent many a lunch hour in the arboretum escaping from the fast pace and stress of my supervisory job. Even a short visit can restore your spirit and provide a respite for our overactive minds, refreshing us for new tasks.
There’s always so much to see … no matter the season. Spring brings the cheery daffodil glades and other colorful bulbs emerging after a long, cold winter. The spring-flowering trees beckon with their fragrant flowers …
In Summer all the trees and shrubs are “fully clothed” and look fantastic! Enjoy a picnic in the shade of one of the beautiful specimens. Get your exercise on one or more of the trails and take in the sights and sounds of nature.
Fall brings a kaleidoscope of leaf colors and autumnal displays of pumpkins and mums. Perfect time for a stroll around one of the scenic lakes plus spectacular photo opportunities …
Come winter enjoy the peacefulness of the “resting” trees. It’s a joy to see the timbers and appreciate their elaborate branch structures.
Grab a hot chocolate and take in the annual “Illumination: Tree Lights at The Morton Arboretum”. You’ll be surrounded by color as you walk a one-mile paved path amid interactive lighting effects synchronized with music. It truly highlights the beauty of trees in wintertime. This popular event is so magical! Bundle up and enjoy this seasonal feast for the senses.
The Children’s Garden
At The Morton Arboretum, imagination lives, curiosity grows, and kids flourish in the 4-acre Children’s Garden. Splash through secret streams, climb colossal acorns, and slide down giant tree roots. Cool off during the summer months with a wading pond and more. Pack a lunch and enjoy a picnic in the designated areas or grab a bite in the Gingko Cafe.
The Fragrance Garden
Follow your nose to the inviting fragrance garden, just west of the Thornhill Education Center, at the north end of the paved Joy Path. This secluded half-acre garden contains plants with fragrant flowers, fruit, or foliage. The garden was built and planted in 1984 and includes more than 95 types of trees, shrubs, and perennials.
The Grand Garden
As part of the Arboretum’s centennial celebration in 2022, a grand new garden is now open—commemorating one hundred years of planting and protecting trees for a greener, healthier, and more beautiful world.
The Gerard T. Donnelly Grand Garden serves as a central new attraction for gathering and enjoyment during the Arboretum’s second century. This splendid new addition to the Arboretum showcases the beauty and diversity of plants alongside delightful water features and spaces for celebration and joy.
Visit Often and Enjoy the Scenery
Once you visit the Morton Arboretum, you will be hooked! This crown jewel in Lisle, IL always offers scenic vistas to get away from it all. Take in an art exhibit, savor a hike, sign up for a class, or listen to music with the trees as a backdrop.
For more info on the arboretum, go to Morton Arboretum to learn more about their current programs, what’s in bloom, interesting events, and seasonal updates. Don’t miss the fabulous gift shop with a terrific selection of nature inspired items!
We hope you found this post about the Morton Arboretum interesting and helpful. Let us know your thoughts and what you like about the arboretum by visiting our contact page …