VISIT & explore

July-August 2016 At The Morton Arboretum

The outdoor walking play, Nature, will take place at the Arboretum in July.
May 23, 2016

The Morton Arboretum is celebrating the long days and warm evenings of summer with fantastic exhibits, events and programs for the whole family.

New this summer, take a journey through time with Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau during the acclaimed outdoor walking play “Nature,” July 8-31. Appearing for the first time in the Chicago area, this unique theatrical performance connects audience members to the beauty of the natural world through masterful storytelling, humor, music and dance. Playing to rave reviews, “Nature” is truly a one-of-a-kind experience! In late August, join us for a leisurely stroll around Meadow Lake while shopping from local artists during our first-ever Wine and Art Walk, August 27-28. And cyclists won’t want to miss the new Bikes, Branches and Bites event on August 13. Bike on vehicle-free roads, and enjoy live music and food trucks!

Returning summer events include the Destination Asia Cultural Festival, August 6-7, featuring exciting performances, including live music and dance as well as authentic cuisine, the Grown-Up Play Date, July 29, in the Children’s Garden, and the Farm to Table Dinner, August 26, an elegant evening of al fresco dining.

Throughout July and August, visitors can enjoy favorite events such as our weekly Wednesdays, Woods and Wine series, Theatre-Hikes® and Thursday Family Nights as well as the 23 whimsical frog sculptures of Ribbit! The Exhibit.

The Morton Arboretum’s Plant Clinic offers extended hours during the summer and fall. Those with plant-related questions or concerns can call on our experts from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. This helpful resource is available for free by calling 630-719-2424 or by email at

A list of July and August Arboretum events and details is below. For more information, visit All prices listed are for the general public and information is accurate as of the date of this release, but we encourage media to check the website as times and dates may change.

July-August Highlights

NEW! “Nature”
Opening day Friday, July 8, 6 p.m.
Thursdays through Sundays through July 31, 6 p.m.
Featuring a talented ensemble cast and praised by theater critics,  the outdoor walking play “Nature” arrives at  The Morton Arboretum for a limited engagement.  “Nature” leads audience members on a journey of spectacle and human drama, using humor, music, song, dance, ritual, and the spell of the landscape to conjure up the lives of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. The two 19th-century writers were close friends: Emerson owned the land in Concord, Mass., where Thoreau built his cabin and lived the solitary life chronicled in his hugely influential book, “Walden.” How they created and lost their friendship is the poignant tale of the play.  At the same time, it explores, as did Thoreau and Emerson, the role of nature in our lives. Their beliefs on the importance of nature to our collective humanity have done much to shape our country’s approach to conservation, including the important work of the Arboretum as it plants and protects trees for a greener, healthier, and more beautiful world. 

NEW! Bikes, Branches and Bites
Saturday, August 13, 3-9 p.m.
Free with Arboretum admission
Cyclists and foodies, enjoy vehicle-free roads, music, and a social featuring food trucks with dishes for purchase.

NEW! Wine and Art Walk
Saturday, August 27-Sunday, August 28, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Free with Arboretum admission
Sip wine and shop for art as you stroll around the Arboretum’s picturesque Meadow Lake on Saturday and Sunday, August 27 and 28, 2016, from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  View unique nature-themed artwork from Midwest artists. As you browse, enjoy live music. The art show is free with admission; there is a fee for the wine and other beverages. 

NEW! Monarchs and Margaritas
Tuesday, July 12, 7-9 p.m.
Enjoy a margarita and chips and salsa while learning about the monarch butterflies’ amazing migration between Mexico and North America. Discover the reasons behind the dramatic drop in their population, what this means for people, and how you can help. Learn about the international and local efforts to save and restore Monarch habitats essential to their survival. The evening includes a visit to the Arboretum’s Monarch waystation.

Grown-Up Play Date
Friday, July 29, 6-9 p.m.
Get in touch with your inner child and celebrate at our second annual Grown-Up Play Date in the Children’s Garden. Join us to explore all the wonders our four-acre garden has to offer while enjoying kid treat-inspired cocktails at the open bar as well as a snack buffet.

Chicagoland Daylily Society Show
Saturday, July 9, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Free with Arboretum admission
Marvel at the wide range of colors and varieties of day lilies and participate in the judging.

Wednesdays, Woods & Wine
Wednesdays in July and August, 5:30-8 p.m.
$15, Arboretum admission fee is waived after 5 p.m.
Wednesday is the new Friday! Unwind after work with intimate live music, drinks and light fare. A menu offering an assortment of tapas plates and beverages will be available for purchase. No advanced registration. Ages 21+.

Thursday Family Nights
Thursdays in July and August, 5-8 p.m.
Arboretum admission is $5 after 4:30 p.m.
Enjoy live music, kid-friendly fare, and entertainment after-hours in the Children’s Garden. Be sure to explore the Children’s Garden, Maze Garden, and Tree House Tales. No registration required.

Theatre-Hikes® at The Morton Arboretum
Weekends in August, 1 p.m.
$20 for adults, $10 for children
Child admission is ages 2 to 17
Join us as we travel to the ancient Mediterranean for a crash course in all things Greek in this spoof, “The Iliad, the Odyssey, and all of Greek Mythology, in 99 Minutes or Less” by Jay Hopkins and John Hunter.  With a beautiful backdrop of nature and a ticking clock for all to see, the cast speeds through all of Greek mythology. A low-impact hike suitable for strollers, walkers and wheelchairs will take place on August 7. Each performance lasts approximately two and a half hours. We recommend participants wear comfortable shoes, weather-appropriate clothing and bring a chair or blanket, water bottle and insect repellent.

Destination Asia Cultural Festival
Saturday, August 6-Sunday, August 7, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Free with Arboretum admission
Join us for a trip around Asia with our third annual Destination Asia Cultural Festival. Explore diverse cultures through music, including Japanese drumming, dance, food, and a bonsai show. The festival will also include champion sumo wrestlers.

Ribbit! The Exhibit
Through Sunday, September 25
Free with Arboretum admission
This summer The Morton Arboretum’s Ribbit! The Exhibit will showcase 23 whimsical, larger-than-life frog sculptures fashioned from copper. The copper sculptures are created by North Carolina artist J.A. Cobb. Each frog has his or her own name, story and personality.

Dining Events

Farm to Table Dinner
Friday, August 26, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Come experience elegant outdoor dining surrounded by natural beauty. This one-of-a-kind meal features fresh, local ingredients expertly prepared and served under our White Pine Pavilion. Join us for a night of delicious, farm-fresh food and enjoy live music on an enchanted summer evening. In addition, the menu items will feature honey from the Arboretum grounds. Learn more about this event at

The Arboretum Store

Semi-Annual Clearance Sale
Friday, July 22-August 14, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Free with Arboretum admission
Shop at The Arboretum Store's semi-annual clearance sale and save on home decor, jewelry, desktop, apparel, books, and more. Shoppers can enjoy a savings of 30 to 60 percent off.

Meet the Beekeeper
Saturday, July 30, noon-3 p.m.
Free with Arboretum admission
Stop by The Arboretum Store and meet our beekeeper.  Hear fascinating facts about bees and the delicious honey they produce. Try a sample of the Arboretum's 2016 harvest of honey and purchase honey and bee-related merchandise.

Children’s Garden Programs

Frog Pads
Daily in July, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Free with Arboretum admission
Not all frogs live among lily pads.  Explore different types of frog homes and design your own to take home in this self-guided hands-on discovery activity.

Frogtastic Play
Daily in July and August, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Free with Arboretum admission
Hop, croak, and splash your way into imaginative play. We’ll set out froggy play activities every day to spark your creativity in this self-guided hands-on discovery activity.

Creature Feature
Saturday, July 30-Sunday, July 31, 11a.m.-4 p.m.
Free with Arboretum admission
From tails to scales to slimy skin, come and meet some real reptiles and amphibians!  Deb the Frog Lady will be here to showcase this incredible group of animals and kids will even get to hold a few.

Garden Story Time
Fridays in July and August, 11 a.m.
Free with Arboretum admission
Gather in the Children’s Garden for a nature-themed story and fun.

Busy Bees - 18-35 months
Wednesday, July 13, Thursday, July 14 or Tuesday, July 19, 9:30-10:45 a.m.
We’ll explore honeybees, their favorite flowers, and honey in this sensory-based program. The program will end with a hike to the Arboretum’s honeybee hives. Adults must accompany children.

Busy Bees - 3-5 years  
Tuesday, July 12 or Wednesday, July 20, 2016, 9:30-11 a.m.
We’ll explore honeybees, their favorite flowers, and honey in this sensory-based program. The program will end with a hike to the Arboretum’s honeybee hives. Adults must accompany children.

Extremely Interesting Reptiles and Amphibians
Daily in August, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Free with Arboretum admission
Did you know that Illinois is home to skinks, soft shell turtles and worm snakes?  Find out some fun facts about all of the reptiles and amphibians in Illinois, and use a rock to design your own herpetological “pet” to take home in this self-guided hands-on discovery activity in the Children’s Garden.

Tree Pose Yoga  
Mondays in July and August, 9:30-10:30 a.m.
Experience nature from a new angle through fun animal and tree yoga poses. Young students will learn about the environment while stretching, moving, and breathing like the creatures around them. We’ll practice outdoors if the weather allows.  Class will not take place on July 4.

Beautiful Butterflies - 18-35 months 
Wednesday, August 10 or Tuesday, August 16, 9:30-10:45 a.m.
Hike, listen to stories, and play games in this interactive sensory-based class.  We’ll dress up like butterflies, sip some nectar and play butterfly seek and find. Adults must accompany children.

Beautiful Butterflies - 3-5
Tuesday, August 9 or Wednesday, August 17, 9:30-11 a.m.
Hike, listen to stories, and play games in this interactive sensory based class.  We’ll dress up like butterflies, sip some nectar and play butterfly seek and find. Adults must accompany children.

Hooray for Herpetology! 
Sunday, August 14, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Meet some live amphibians and reptiles that will slither their way to your heart. The Children’s Garden will host Lake View Nature Center and introduce us to their slimy and scaly friends.

Family Programs and Classes

Acorn Express Adventures
Wednesdays and Fridays in July and August, 11-11:45 a.m.
Join us on the Acorn Express for a family-friendly tram ride adventure through the Arboretum. We’ll seek out fun destinations to hike, make a craft, and explore new topics each week. 

Acorn Express Adventures-- Homeschool Journey
Wednesday, July 6 and Wednesday, August 3, 9:30-10:15 a.m.
Join us on the Acorn Express for a family-friendly tram ride adventure through the Arboretum. We’ll seek out fun destinations to hike, make a craft, and explore nature topics.  Gather with homeschool families from the Chicago area and bring snacks to enjoy in the Children’s Garden picnic area after the program.  

Family Explorers Backpack
Daily in July and August, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Looking for a unique experience in the Children’s Garden? Rent a self-guided family backpack and enhance your visit. Backpack rental includes science tools, guides and fun props to explore nature as a family.

I Went For a Walk Today: Family Theater Workshop
Tuesday, July 12, 6:30–8 p.m. and Saturday, July 23, 1 -11:30 a.m.
Connect with the outdoors though theatrical play with the cast from “Nature”—A Walking Play, a performance about the lives of 19th century writers and friends Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.  Professional actors will connect your family to nature through walks, theatrical play, and reflective journaling.  Each workshop attendees will receive a “Nature” field journal to take home. 

Family Twilight Adventures
Fridays, July 8 and August 5, 7-9 p.m.
Saturday, July 23 and August 20, 7-9 p.m.
Join us for a fun-filled adventure after hours at the Arboretum.  We’ll hike, do activities and roast marshmallows before going on a silent tram ride through the woods after dark.  Come and see what happens at the Arboretum at night. Children must be accompanied by adult registrant; please, plan to have at least one adult per five children and dress for the weather.

Children’s Garden Campout
Friday, July 15 to Saturday July 16 and Friday, August 12 to Saturday August 13, 6:30 p.m.-9 a.m.
Join us for a campout designed especially for families. Pitch your tent on the lawn inside the Children’s Garden and get ready for a night filled with fun.  Visit hands-on activity stations and enjoy snacks, night hikes and bedtime stories. When you get sleepy, retire to your tent and snooze the night away. In the morning, wake to the sound of birds singing before enjoying a light breakfast and a chance to explore the Children’s Garden with your family before it opens to the general public. The rain date for the July campout is July 16-17. The rain date for the August campout is August 13-14.

Wellness Programs

Adult Yoga  
Wednesdays, June 29-July 27, 6:30-7:30 p.m. or Thursdays, June 30-July 28, 10:30-11:30 a.m. or 12-1 p.m.
$19 per class or $85 for a series
Improve your health and well-being with yoga. We will practice poses, breathing and meditation in the tranquil setting of the Morton Arboretum. This class is for participants 18 or older.

Meditation and Essential Oils  
Mondays, July 11, July 25, August 8 and August 22, 6-7  p.m.
$21 per class
Explore meditative and self-nurturing yoga poses with the use of plant based essential oils to restore and rebalance the mind and body in the tranquil setting of the Morton Arboretum.  

Sunrise/Sunset Yoga  
Wednesday, August 3 or Wednesday, August 24 7-8 p.m.
Thursday, August 4 or Thursday, August 25, 7:15-8:15 a.m.
$19 per class
Release tension in this soothing yoga class promoting deep, slow moving stretches and meditation for complete relaxation.   Whether you’re strengthening the start of your day, or ending it on a positive note, sunrise/sunset yoga will bring balance to your day. This class is for participants 18 or older.

Botanical Art

Adult Coloring Night
Thursday, August 11, 7-9 p.m.
Kick back and relax with a night of coloring, complete with a cash bar and cheese and crackers. The evening will begin with a brief lesson from an expert botanical artist on how to elevate your coloring skills with a bit of color theory and shading techniques. Choose from the Arboretum-exclusive coloring sheets, created from the Sterling Morton Library’s historic Nancy Hart pen and ink collection.  Bring friends and you’ll each be entered into a raffle to win an adult coloring book from the Arboretum Store.

Arboretum Uncorked
Thursday, July 28, 7-9 p.m.
Enjoy a glass of wine and create a vibrant painting of a garden that holds a secret. Choose your subject from one of the images offered.  Work step-by-step with a skilled instructor and leave with visual memory of The Morton Arboretum.

Amphibian Art: Frogs Across Forms
Tuesdays, July 26, August 2 through August 9, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Learn how frogs have been interpreted in art. We will sketch frogs in our sketchbook, study how frogs were used as inspiration in jewelry and design and make a simple bead out of polymer clay.

Upcycled Art
Sunday, August 7, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Learn how to turn dress pattern paper, old magazine pages, found objects and even some organic objects into a beautiful piece of upcycled mixed media art for your home. Supplies are provided, but feel free to bring your own used paper material, dried leaves or flowers, or other items you’d like to incorporate into your artwork.

Learn about Nature

DIY Green Cleaning Products
Thursdays, July 7, 10:30 a.m.-noon
Thursday, July 14, 6:30-8 p.m. 
Saturday, August 27, 10:30 a.m.-noon
Make your own environmentally friendly household cleaners. Save money and reduce chemical use in your household with tried-and-true recipes for homemade natural cleaning products such as laundry detergent and all-purpose cleaner.  We’ll discuss the benefits of homemade cleaning products, talk about why they work, and then make five sample recipes in class.

Troubleshooting Vegetables
Friday, July 8, 10 a.m.-noon and Sunday, July 24, 1-3 p.m.
Save your vegetable crop from common midseason troubles. Learn to identify problems and learn solutions for pests, diseases, low production and more. Join our horticulturist as she troubleshoots common challenges in the veggie garden and shares tips to keep your garden thriving until harvest.

Prairie Plant ID
Tuesdays, July 19 through July 26, and Thursday, July 21, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Learn the identification skills to manage, restore, or simply enjoy prairie habitats. Prairies in summer are at the peak of their bloom and color, with diverse wildflowers and grasses showing their distinctive beauty. Learn to identify plants important for prairie restoration during the growing season, and practice your identification skills in the field with guidance from a local plant expert.

Full Moon Tram Tour
Tuesday, July 19 or Thursday, July 21, 7:30-9:30 p.m.
Discover what happens at the Arboretum at night, when no one is around. With the moon shining through the trees, a tram ride reveals a captivating symphony of sounds, mysterious spaces, and wildlife on the move. During our ride and short hikes, we will discuss night ecology, share stories of moon lore, and enjoy the magic of nature at night.

Nature at Night Hike
Friday, July 22, 8-9:30 p.m.
Discover what happens at the Arboretum at night when no one is around. During our hike, we will discuss night ecology, listen to a symphony of sounds, explore mysterious spaces, and hopefully view wildlife on the move. Learn more about our nocturnal animals and enjoy the magic of nature at night.

Bonsai for Beginners
Sundays, August 28 and September 11 through October 9, 1-4 p.m.
Learn the art of bonsai during this six-week hands-on course. Discover principles and techniques to appreciate and practice the craft of bonsai. Each session includes detailed instruction from bonsai expert practitioner Ivan Watters and individualized assistance with design, styling and wiring.

Bird Walks

Summer Bird Walks
Saturdays, July 16 or August 20, 8-10:30 a.m.
Enjoy summer at The Morton Arboretum by searching the woods, fields, and edges for summertime birds. Learn about the summer resident birds, their preferred haunts, foraging needs, and nesting behavior with an expert guide.

Shorebird Identification
Thursday, August 11, 6:30- 8:30 p.m., and Sunday, August 14, 8 a.m.-noon
Learn the identifying characteristics of local shorebirds. Learn the types and characteristics of shorebirds found in northern Illinois in the classroom, then spend a morning searching local hotspots to identify these birds in the field.

Guided Hikes

Prairie Scenes: Large & Small
Thursdays, July 7 through July 21, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., and Saturdays, July 9 and July 16, 8 to 11 a.m.
Explore the summer prairie through the lens of your camera. This photographic study of the prairie will begin with shooting the larger landscape and then transition to focus on the smaller details with close-up photography. The class will include two field sessions and two critiques sessions.

Summer Tree Walk
Thursday, July 7, 8:30-11 a.m. or Saturday, August 27, 8:30-11 a.m.
Enjoy a stroll along tree-lined trails with an Arboretum expert. Learn to identify trees by examining the leaves, flowers, branches, bark, and buds of these majestic wonders.

Summer Wildflower Walk
Friday, July 8, 8:30-10:30 a.m.
Explore the ever-changing colorful flowers and swaying grasses of the Arboretum’s prairies, woodlands and wetlands alongside an expert. Take a morning hike with an expert and enjoy hearing birds and insects, seeing the wildflower highlights in each month and learn about the complex interactions that support this diversity of life. A plant list will be provided but feel free to bring your own field guide and hand lens.

Nature Photography

Smartphone Photography
Saturday, July 9, 1-4 p.m.
Discover the best ways to use your phone to capture attractive images, a selection of good starter apps, and some basic post-processing of your photos.  We will be demonstrating with an iPhone and iPad but the techniques and apps apply to most smartphones. Remember, “the best camera is the one that’s with you.” Whether you are new to photography or an old hand, discover techniques for getting great nature images with your phone, and be prepared to capture the season.

Creative Use of Light in Nature Photography
Saturday, August 27 and Sunday, August 28, 8 a.m.-noon and Thursday, September 8, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Learn to creatively use light  and examine the quantity, color, and quality of light found during the course of the day and the seasons. We will discuss the various qualities of light that photographers encounter in shooting the natural landscape. Through practice in the field and classroom reviews, learn how to use different natural lighting creatively and effectively, what filters to use, and how to get correct exposures in each light quality.

The Plant Clinic is generously supported by Bartlett Tree Experts.