VISIT & explore

July-August Events at The Morton Arboretum

The Grown-Up Play Date in August is among many popular events taking place this summer.
April 13, 2017

The Morton Arboretum is celebrating the sun-filled days and warm evenings of July and August with awe-inspiring exhibitions, events and programs for everyone in the family. 

On display all summer long is Origami in the Garden. Visitors can marvel at 25 displays of magnificent large-scale metal sculptures inspired by the ancient Japanese art of paper folding, and enjoy origami-inspired programs and drop-in activities in our Children’s Garden. In July, we will screen the acclaimed animated film “Kubo and the Two Strings” during an outdoor Movie Night. In August, a new opening ceremony with a luminous Japanese lantern display will usher in our Destination Asia Festival.

Returning summer events include Bikes, Branches and Bites, a chance to explore our wooded grounds by riding bikes along vehicle-free roads, as well as the popular Grown-Up Play Date, during which adults can trade their normal responsibilities for some carefree kid fun in our four-acre Children’s Garden.  This year marks the second for our Wine and Art Walk, which will feature artwork for sale along the trail encircling picturesque Meadow Lake, as well as the return of the alfresco dining experience in August’s Farm to Table Dinner.

Throughout July and August, visitors can enjoy favorite events such as our weekly Wednesdays, Woods and Wine series, Thursday Family Nights, and Theatre-Hikes®.

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 prior to publication, as times and dates may change.


July-August Highlights

NEW! Origami in the Garden
Daily, July through October 22,  7 a.m.-sunset
Free with Arboretum admission
Visitors will be awed by 25 displays of metal sculptures based on the traditional Japanese art of paper folding as they walk paths through the Arboretum’s spectacular landscape. Created by Santa Fe-based artists Kevin and Jennifer Box, the Origami in the Garden exhibit features installations, gallery works, and the Box's own compositions, as well as collaborative works with some of the world’s top origami artists.

Wednesdays, Woods and Wine
Wednesdays through August 30, 5:30-8 p.m.
Wednesday is the new Friday. Unwind with live music and drinks on warm summer evenings in the Arboretum’s courtyard.

Thursday Family Nights
Thursdays through August 24, 5-8 p.m.
Enjoy live music, kid-friendly fare, and entertainment after hours in the Children’s Garden.

NEW! Movie Night featuring “Kubo and the Two Strings”
Saturday, July 8, 8 p.m.
Free with Arboretum admission
Join us for a summer movie night featuring the epic animated action-adventure “Kubo and the Two Strings.”  Before the film, visitors can walk the Arboretum’s grounds and take in the 25 displays of Origami in the Garden.

Chicagoland Daylily Society Show
Saturday, July 8, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Free with Arboretum admission
Marvel at the wide range of colors and varieties of daylilies and participate in the judging as the Chicagoland Daylily Society presents this day-long show.

Bikes, Branches & Bites
Saturday, July 15, 4:30-sunset
Free with Arboretum admission
Explore the beautiful tree collections on two wheels as you cycle on miles of vehicle-free, paved roads. Take a break from riding to enjoy a variety of food truck favorites. 

Dragonflies and Daiquiris  
Tuesday, August 1, 7-9 p.m.
Enjoy a daiquiri as you discover the intriguing world of dragonflies with a naturalist. These ancient insects are not only big and beautiful; they are also fierce predators, acrobatic flyers, and have a fascinating relationship with water. Learn about a variety of dragonflies found right at the Arboretum.

NEW! Destination Asia and Opening Ceremony
Friday, August 4, 6-8:30 p.m.
Kick off our fourth-annual Destination Asia Festival with a formal ceremony, engaging performances, culinary delights, and a breathtaking Japanese lantern display on Meadow Lake.

Destination Asia Festival
Saturday, August 5 and Sunday, August 6, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Free with Arboretum admission
Join us for a trip around Asia with our fourth-annual Destination Asia Festival. Explore diverse cultures through music, including Japanese drumming, dance, food, and a bonsai show. The festival will also include performances by champion sumo wrestlers.

Grown-Up Play Date
Friday, August 18, 6-9 p.m.
Get in touch with your inner child and celebrate at our Grown-Up Play Date in the Children’s Garden. Join us for a night of childhood fun as you explore, climb, and slide through all the wonders of our four-acre garden. All “kids” must be 21+ to attend. For pricing details, please visit

Wine and Art Walk
Saturday, August 19 and Sunday, August 20, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Free with Arboretum admission
Enjoy live music, sip wine, and shop for art as you stroll around Meadow Lake. Browse this juried art show featuring photography, woodturning, jewelry, digital and traditional painting, fused glass, and more from Midwest artists. The art show is free with admission; there is a fee for the wine and other beverages. 

July 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, and 29-30, 6:30 p.m.
August 5-6, 12-13, 19-20, 26-27, 6 p.m.
In July, join Theatre-Hikes® for a walking production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream." August brings a performance of "Around the World in 8 Plays" to the scenic wooded grounds of the Arboretum. Visit for further details.


The Arboretum Store

Summer Clearance Sale
Daily, July 21 through August 11, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Shoppers can enjoy markdowns of 30 to 60 percent off spring and summer home decor items in addition to savings on books, desktop items, apparel, jewelry, garden items and more. Members receive an additional 10 percent off.


Dining Events

Farm to Table Dinner
Friday, August 25, 6-8:30 p.m.
Experience elegant outdoor dining surrounded in 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. Visit for pricing details.

Children’s Garden Programs

Tree Pose Yoga  
Mondays in July and August, 10-11 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. The fee includes Arboretum admission.

Wonderful Water (18–35 months)
Tuesday, July 11 or Wednesday, July 19, 9:30-10:45 a.m.
Splash, play and learn in this sensory-based program all about water.  We’ll even hike to the pond and check out what lives in water. This program is recommended for children 18-35 months and accompanied by an adult.

Wonderful Water (3–5 years)  
Wednesday, July 12, Tuesday, July 18 or Thursday, July 20, 9:30-11 a.m.
Splash, play and learn in this sensory-based program all about water.  We’ll even hike to the pond and check out what lives in water. This program is recommended for children 3 to 5 years old and children should be accompanied by an adult.

Going on a Bug Hunt (18–35 months)  
Tuesday, August 8 or Wednesday, August 16, 9:30-10:45 a.m.
Hike, listen to stories, and play games in this interactive sensory-based program.  Crawl, buzz and jump like the insects we find on our bug hunt through the garden. This program is recommended for children 18-35 months and children should be accompanied by an adult.

Going on a Bug Hunt (3–5 years)   
Wednesday, August 9, Thursday, August 10 or Tuesday, August 15, 9:30-11 a.m.
Hike, listen to stories, and play games in this interactive sensory based program.  Crawl, buzz and jump like the insects we find on our bug hunt through the garden.  This program is recommended for children 3 to 5 years old and children should be accompanied by an adult.

Youth and Family Programs

Acorn Express Adventures
Wednesdays and Fridays throughout July and August, 11-11:45 a.m.
Join us on the Acorn Express tram for a family-friendly ride and adventure through the Arboretum. We’ll seek out fun destinations to hike, make a craft, and explore new topics each week. The fee does not include Arboretum admission.

Acorn Express Adventures– Homeschool Journey
Wednesday, July 5 and Wednesday, August 2, 9:30-10:15 a.m.
Join us on the Acorn Express tram for a family-friendly ride adventure through the Arboretum. We’ll seek out fun destinations to hike, make a craft, and explore nature topics.  Gather with other homeschool families from the Chicago area and bring snacks to enjoy in the Children’s Garden picnic area after the program.  The fee does not include Arboretum admission.

Family Explorers Backpack
Daily in July and August, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Looking for a unique experience in the Children’s Garden? Check out a self-guided family backpack and enhance your visit. Backpack rental includes science tools, guides and fun props to explore nature as a family. The fee does not include Arboretum admission.

Family Twilight Adventures
Fridays, July 14 or August 25 or Saturdays, July 29 or August 19, 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.  Come see what happens at the Arboretum at night. Children must be accompanied by an adult registrant.

Children’s Garden Campout
Friday, July 21 through Saturday July 22, 6:30 p.m.-9 a.m., or Friday, August 11 through Saturday, August 12, 6:30 p.m.-9 a.m.
$37 per person
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 cozy tent and snooze the night away. In the morning, wake to the sound of birds singing, a light breakfast and a chance to explore the Children’s Garden with your family before it opens to the general public.


Wellness Programs

Nature Rx: Forest Therapy Walks (3 hour)
Select Mondays, August 14 through September 25, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., select Saturdays, August 12 through September 23, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
$25 per class, $92 for the series
Experience the healing and wellness promoting effects of Shinrin-Yoku, the practice of bathing the senses in the atmosphere of the forest. Take a mindful walk with a certified forest therapy guide on an Arboretum trail as you awaken your senses and reconnect with nature. The walks will visit different locations at the Arboretum and will include a variety of awareness-raising exercises, concluding with tea made from edible plants foraged along the trail. 

Nature Rx: Forest Therapy Walks (1 hour)
Wednesday, August 16 or Wednesday, August 30, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
$7 per class
Experience the healing and wellness promoting effects of Shinrin-Yoku, the practice of bathing the senses in the atmosphere of the forest. Take a mindful walk with a certified forest therapy guide on an Arboretum trail as you awaken your senses and reconnect with nature. The walks will visit different locations at the Arboretum and will include a variety of awareness-raising exercises, concluding with tea made from edible plants foraged along the trail. 

FIT4MOM Stroller Strides® 
Thursdays, August 24 through October 26, 10-11 a.m.
$21 per class, $135 for a series
Experience the Arboretum’s beauty as you get fit with your little ones along for the ride. Stroller Strides® is a stroller-based fitness program designed for moms with little ones. Each 60-minute, total body workout incorporates power walking/jogging, strength, toning, songs and activities.

Arboretum Yoga 
Wednesdays, July 5 through August 2, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
$19 per class, $85 for the series
Improve your health and well-being with yoga. We will practice poses, breathing and meditation in the tranquil setting of The Morton Arboretum.

Meditation and Essential Oils  
Mondays, July 10, July 24, August 7, or August 21, 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.

Sunset Hike and Yoga
Tuesday, July 18 or Thursday, August 17, 6-7:30 p.m.
$21 per class
Feel your best and focus on total body health and well-being with a short hike outdoors followed by a yoga class set to the sounds of nature.  This experience will leave you feeling relaxed and peaceful. 

Aerial Tree Yoga
Tuesday, August 15 or Wednesday, August 30, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
Try out this sampler session of aerial yoga. Stretch, strengthen, and release stress while having fun, cocooned in a hammock suspended from the trees.  Aerial yoga offers wonderful benefits to the mind, body and soul, and is suitable for beginners as well as experienced yogis.


Woodland Stewardship Program
The Woodland Stewardship Program is an in-depth training and certification program in natural areas restoration. Classes are easy to fit into a busy lifestyle, and include online, classroom, and field components.  The Woodland Stewardship Program is open to anyone involved or interested in the stewardship of our natural heritage, regardless of prior experience. 

Plants of the Prairie
Thursdays, July 6 through July 13, and Tuesday, July 11, 6-8 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. This class can be taken as a component of the Woodland Stewardship Program in natural areas management.

Intro to Ecological Restoration
Online component begins: Wednesday, July 12
In-person component: Wednesdays, July 19 and August 2, 6-8 p.m.
Discover the principles and practice of ecosystem restoration. Ecological restoration is a process for improving the quality of our regional forests, water, air, and biodiversity. Engage with experts in natural resource conservation and fellow participants and volunteers to challenge your assumptions and have conversations about ecological restoration. Explore what we mean when we say ecological restoration, examples in concept and practice, and discuss the implications of this work. The program will include both online learning modules and in-person discussions; additional online material will be available between the first and second in-person sessions.

Wetland Ecology
Wednesday, July 12, 6:30-8:30 p.m., and Saturday, July 15, 8 a.m.-noon
Learn the essentials of wetland ecology and the management techniques necessary to maintain threatened wetland ecosystems. Wetlands are critical habitats in the Great Lakes region. Today, these ecosystems are threatened by encroaching development, invasive species, and pollution. Discuss the principles of wetland ecology underlying restoration practice, visit sites that represent different stages of restoration, and explore the management of these systems. This class can be taken as a component of the Woodland Stewardship Program in natural areas management.

Tools for Management
Online component begins: Tuesday, August 1
In-person component meets: Tuesday, August 8, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Learn to effectively and efficiently use the tools of the trade to tackle different restoration jobs. Get to know your tools, pick the right tools for the right tasks, and learn to use the different tools safely. We’ll discuss how to plan and run safe workdays, meet site safety guidelines, and how to care for equipment.

Volunteer Leadership
Online component begins: Friday, August 11
In-person component: Saturday, August 19, 10 a.m. -4 p.m.
Strengthen your skills leading volunteers in natural areas management with this interactive primer for volunteer stewardship activity planning, group dynamics, safety, and volunteer empowerment. Learn how to plan and run a productive volunteer workday for activities such as invasive brush removal and seed collection that inspire volunteers to keep coming back. Discover methods of bringing volunteers together with social media, mailing lists, and in-person meetings. Gain skills to recruit, retain, and empower volunteers to lead others with community organizing fundamentals.

Woodland Stewardship Program Orientation
In-person component: Thursday, August 24, 6:30-8 p.m.
Online: Visit to access the online orientation.
Join us for a free orientation program on the Woodland Stewardship Program, which includes classes with online and in-person components.  Discuss the education and volunteer aspects of the training program and get information on how you can volunteer to help make a difference in the woodlands, prairies, and wetlands in your community and at the Arboretum.

Basic Plant ID
Online component begins: Thursday, August 31
In-person component: Saturday, September 9, 9-11 a.m.
Get the botany basics you need to identify plants. From the comfort of your home or office, use new, self-paced online learning modules to learn about plant identification. These narrated slides and interactive, no-pressure quizzes will help you learn the vocabulary to name plants and describe their structures and life histories. Then attend a one-day, two-hour session at the Arboretum to apply these skills in the field while learning how to use a variety of field guides and tools with the guidance of an Arboretum plant expert.  Whether you are a gardener, naturalist, artist, or natural resources specialist or volunteer, this class provides the fundamentals you need to get started.



Summer Bird Walks 
Saturday, July 15 or August 19, 8-10:30 a.m.
Enjoy summer at The Morton Arboretum by searching the woods, fields, and, sedges for summertime birds. Learn about the summer resident birds, their preferred haunts, foraging needs, and nesting behavior with an expert guide. The fee does not include Arboretum admission.

Field Study: Birds of Fall 
Sundays, August 27, September 10, September 24, and October 1, 8-11:30 a.m.
Enjoy autumn’s amazing birding as you learn to identify the migratory birds filling the air. We are fortunate to be in two flyways, including the longest migration route of any in the Western Hemisphere. Learn fall migrants and newly arrived winter residents. Field work will concentrate on identification skills such as how molt, feather wear, and age vary a bird's fall plumage.


Green Living

Preserving the Harvest
Saturday, August 26, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Learn home preservation methods and continue to enjoy your seasonal bounty well into the fall and winter months. Learn how and what to freeze, dehydrate, ferment, and can. Watch a step-by-step canning or pickling demonstration, and go home armed with all the tips and tricks you need to do it yourself.



Bonsai for Beginners
Saturdays, July 8 through August 12, 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 behind dwarfed trees. Each session includes detailed instruction from a expert bonsai practitioner and individualized assistance with design, styling and wiring.

Intermediate Bonsai Level 1
Thursdays, July 6 through August 10, 6:30-9:30 p.m.
For those with considerable familiarity and experience with the fundamentals of bonsai, this course allows you to take your practice to the next step. Learn development techniques during this six-week hands-on course. Each session includes detailed instruction from an expert bonsai practitioner, work on trees, and critique of work completed during the course.

Advanced Bonsai Level 1
Saturdays, July 8 through August 12, 9 a.m.-noon
This six-week course focuses almost exclusively on supervised work on trees with an expert bonsai practitioner.

Perennial Maintenance Walking Tour
Wednesday, July 12, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Stroll the Arboretum's stunning perennial beds where you’ll learn about plant placement, dividing, transplanting, watering, fertilizing, mulching, and more. Knowing what to do and when to do it will help keep your perennial gardens looking good from spring through fall.

The Life of Flowers  
Saturday, July 22, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
Uncover the secret life of flowers. Join one of our horticulturists on a journey through the life of a flower. Learn how flowers develop and grow, and the end result of their lives, which is fruit. Learn botany basics with different types of flower and study how they work by dissecting a flower and observing it up close. Then head outdoors to explore the variety of flowers and the fruits they produce on the Arboretum’s grounds. Conclude the day with portraits of some of the most unique and complex relationships that flowers have with insects and other pollinators.

Combat Weeds: Know Your Enemy 
Wednesday, July 19, 2017, 7-9 p.m.
Learn about the pesky visitors that pop up in your garden uninvited. Find out what qualifies as a weed. Learn to identify common weeds and get effective strategies to prevent and eradicate weeds from your beds and lawn using non-chemical methods whenever possible. Get the low-down on the use of chemical weed killers and their place in your weed-control regimen.

Gardening for Bees  
Thursday, August 3, 6:30-9:30 p.m. and Saturday, August 5, 9 a.m.-noon
Bees, butterflies, and other insects play a crucial role in both nature and agriculture through the process of pollination. They pollinate everything from the flowers outside our window to the food we put on the table. But bees and other pollinators’ numbers are in decline. You can help by growing the types of plants that attract and sustain these important insects. On the first day, come to the Arboretum to learn about the plants pollinators love. Then see it all in action with a visit to an exceptional pollinator garden.

Grow a Stir Fry Garden 
Saturday, August 19, 10 a.m.-noon
This fall, grow all the veggies you need to make a delicious stir-fry dinner. Learn about both the common and more unusual vegetables that add flavor and nutrition to a stir fry. Get tips for planting and harvesting these vegetables in your own garden. Take home a recipe or two that uses many of the vegetables covered in class.

Japanese Garden Design
Tuesday, August 15, 6:30-9:30 p.m.
Create a Zen-filled garden haven at home. Japanese gardens inspire meditation and reflection. Learn to use the principles of Japanese gardening to create your own peaceful place with Midwestern plant species that achieve the same meditative aspects. Learn key features that go into making a Japanese garden successful and how you can incorporate those elements into your own gardens.


Nature Photography

Photographing Dragonflies & Damselflies
Thursdays, July 13 through July 27, 6:30-9:30 p.m., and Saturdays, July 15 and 22, 8-11 a.m.
Capture the beauty of dragonflies and damselflies with your camera. Learn to identify these distinctive insects that fill the summer air, and then photograph them with an expert’s assistance. Photographing these insects is both a joy and a challenge, yielding views of their behavior and their beauty.

Smartphone Photography
Saturday, July 15, 8-11 a.m.
This class will cover the best ways to use your smartphone to capture images, and recommend a selection of good starter apps for some basic post-processing of your photos.  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.


Botanical Art

Watercolor Workshop: Textures in Nature
Friday, August 4 and Saturday, August 5, 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.
$75 per session, $123 for the series
The botanical world is full of difficult textures to paint. Learn to conquer them in this intensive two-day workshop. We will head out onto the grounds to observe textures in context, then collect specimens to study and paint. We will work with watercolor and gouache to capture textures on paper. The first day will focus on leaves and textures of the woodlands, and the second will center on the flowers and textures of the prairie.

Painting with Pencils: Water-Soluble Colored Pencil Workshop
Friday, August 25 or Saturday, August 26, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Learn to use water-soluble colored pencils to create a vibrant painting of the Arboretum. Water-soluble colored pencils look and handle like a traditional colored pencil, yet they dissolve and blend in water. In this workshop, students will spend some time field sketching before returning to the classroom to develop a piece using pencils, water, and brushes.

Beginner's Drawing Workshop: Scratchboard
Saturday, August 19, or Sunday, August 20, 10 a.m.- 1 p.m.
Capture nature on scratchboard, a form of engraving. Beginning with a completely black surface, you will scratch white lines through the ink with a sharp blade. The result is a dramatic black-and-white image resembling a wood engraving. Under the guidance of an art instructor, you will enjoy this introduction to the unique medium and take home a creative piece of art to display in your home.

Japanese Papermaking
Sunday, August 20, 2017, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Make colorful, textured paper using eastern fibers in this Japanese papermaking workshop. We will work with the three main fibers that are used: Gampi, Kozo and Mitsumata. These materials make lovely textured papers with long fibers. We will add inclusions of dried organic material, dyed fibers, silk thread and more. Each student will walk away with at least 20 sheets of colorful and unique paper.


Learn about Nature

Wilderness Skills 101: What to Know Before You Go  
Saturday, July 15, 9 a.m.-noon
Learn skills you need to survive in the wilderness in this practical, hands-on workshop. Whether you’re planning to hike, backpack, mountain bike, paddle, or simply drive in remote areas, learning simple but effective survival skills apply to any outdoor adventure and can ensure you and your group return home safe. Through real-life examples and hypothetical scenarios, learn what common mistakes people make and how to make smart decisions that save lives.

Explore Illinois Beach State Park   
Saturday July 15, 2017 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Explore Illinois’s first nature preserve, Illinois Beach Nature Preserve at the south end of Illinois Beach State Park. In an outing led by a botanist, you will explore this designated National Natural Landmark that is also one of the richest and most biologically diverse areas in the state. Walk along two miles of trails, observing trees and wildflowers of prairie, savanna, and wetlands as well as the lake shore and small dunes. We will also take a short trail down to the lakeshore.

Prairie Ethnobotany
Friday, August 11, 8:30-11 a.m.
Learn how humans have used prairie plants on this summer hike. The prairie once served as a pharmacy, grocery store, fuel source, fortune teller, and more. Discover a different dimension of the prairie as you enjoy vibrant summer blooms and grasses and learn about their many historical and traditional uses.

Nachusa’s Bison  
Saturday, August 26, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Take a guided tour of the 4,000-acre Nachusa Grasslands in Ogle County. Learn about the reintroduction of bison to the area and the diverse wildlife that call the grasslands home, and enjoy a leisurely walk through the wealth of wildflowers that grow there.

Intro to Beekeeping 
Saturday, August 19, 10 a.m.- 1 p.m.
In this introductory class, learn what is required to keep bees. Learn about the required equipment, costs, time demands, and more. This class is a great opportunity to get a sense of what it takes to raise bees before committing to the Arboretum’s Beginning Beekeeping workshop in September.