Recharge and revitalize, connect with nature, yourself, and loved ones, hike, bike, or ski… plus, take in a resplendent pictorial of nature all at the same time when you visit the 1,700-acre Morton Arboretum! Morton is known as one of the top arboretums in the entire country. Trees, shrubs and flowers originate from all over here: wide-ranging areas such as the Appalachians and northeast Asia, the Illinois prairie and the woods of Europe. Guests should begin at the visitors’ center for a map before heading out on any of the paths (or take along our Top Ten list below!). With more than 3,000 varieties of trees and shrubs, the park is a prime spot to take in blazing seasonal colors in summer, spring, winter and autumn. The Chicago-area arboretum owes its existence to one of the nation’s first ecology minded families. Julius Sterling Morton, founder/originator of Arbor Day and Secretary of Agriculture under President Grover Cleveland, had a passion for trees and horticultural science. That passion was passed on to his son, Joy Morton, founder of the Morton Salt Company. In 1921, the Morton family estate in Lisle was transformed into what today is the Arboretum’s Thornhill Education Center, where visitors can literally stop and smell the roses at the Fragrance Garden. Today the Morton Arboretum is an out-and-out wonderland during every season. Each spring, blooming flowers explode across its acres: there are butter yellow blossoms in the Daffodil Glade, blooming Crabapples along the lake, and riotous wildflowers in the woodlands and meadows. Summer offers perennial flower gardens along Joy Path, cool shade on the Conifer Trail, and sugary sweet smells in the aromatic fragrance Garden. In the fall, sumacs and crabapples drop their heavy fruit, while the Maples and Oaks burst into flaming hues. One can also choose a winter path and go to the eastern sector to circle Lake Marmo and Sterling Pond. You’ll break a path through white powdery snow and enjoy barren trees under leaden skies; or sit and reflect in the inky waters of the east branch of the DuPage River. Snow-laden evergreen trees at you to provide relief in an otherwise stark yet stunning winter landscape. At Morton, outdoor enthusiasts also enjoy year-round availability of the six miles of trails. Don’t miss it’s sustainability initiative either: it’s formed as a Rooftop Garden, with elements that demonstrate its commitment to energy efficiency, reducing the carbon footprint, and beautifying the world. So next time you’re visiting Chicago, take a day trip west to visit magnificent Morton. And don’t forget to take the attached Top Ten Fan Favorites List with you; use it as an adjunct to any information you’ll receive upon free entry. This lists details the best of the best at Morton for you, and it’ll make navigating the gargantuan grounds a bit easier for you. 1. Maze Garden
Perhaps one of the coolest attractions at Morton and in all of the entire Chicago area is the one-acre Maze Garden. It’s a total adventure for young and old alike. Basically, visitors are challenged to find their way through this living puzzle. It isn’t easy—the maze changes from season to season. If you’d rather watch from above, climb to a 12-foot high lookout platform built around a stunning, 60-foot tall Sycamore tree. Enjoy a bird’s-eye-view of family and friends as they navigate the maze.