9 Best Nature Centers in Illinois!

Nature centers provide the opportunity to step away from daily responsibilities and appreciate nature. They’re also ideal locations for children to explore and learn about the native wildlife and habitats of local areas. Illinois is fortunate to have many quality nature centers dedicated to preserving the land and educating the public on the importance of respecting the Earth. The following nature centers also have special programs and events for the entire family. 

Fullersburg Woods Nature Education Center, Oak Brook, IL

Fullersburg Woods Nature Education Center is a highly interactive center dedicated to educating children and the public on the effects humans have on the local ecosystem. Visitors can go on an excursion through the woods, view the skeleton of a 13,000-year-old wooly mammoth, and use the free Wi-Fi in the nature center. 

Lake Katherine Nature Center, Palos Heights, IL

This small and peaceful nature center in the middle of the suburbs is perfect for an afternoon stroll. Trees, flowers, waterfalls, geese, ducks, and other wildlife are visible along the walking path. The grounds are also clean and well-maintained, plus the nature center has activities for kids. 

Red Oak Nature Center, North Aurora, IL

Explore the hiking trails and cave at the Red Oak Nature Center. Located near the Fox River, this nature center is surrounded by lush forests and is home to a variety of native wildlife. Visitors can interact with nature first-hand and learn about the great outdoors. 

Adams Wildlife Sanctuary, Springfield, IL

This 40-acre bird and wildlife sanctuary is dedicated to preserving the diverse urban wildlife in the area. Visitors can enjoy the trails through the woodland, observe over 81 bird species, and enjoy the various tree varieties including silver maple, hackberry, cottonwood, and black walnut. 

North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL

The North Park Village Nature Center is a nature preserve in Chicago. With programs for all ages of children, this hand-on nature center is full of discovery and interactive displays. Visitors can also explore the many trails through the prairie, woodland, savanna, and wetland areas. 

Sand Ridge Nature Center, South Holland, IL

Explore 235 acres of diverse habitats including woodlands, oak savannas, prairies, and others at the Sand Ridge Nature Center. Visitors can view natural wildlife such as fish, turtles, snakes, and birds while discovering the rich natural history of the area. The nature center holds several events throughout the year, as well, celebrating Earth Day and Illinois Archaeology Day. 

Crabtree Nature Center, Barrington, IL

No matter the season, Crabtree Nature center is always beautiful and teeming with wildlife. Over 260 bird species have been spotted migrating over the 1,182 acres of woodland, prairies, and wetlands, which were all formed by glaciers thousands of years ago. The center openly welcomes visitors to explore the several miles of self-guided trails, as well. 

Little Red Schoolhouse Nature Center, Willow Springs, IL

A log cabin school once stood at the site of this nature center in Willow Springs. The Little Red Schoolhouse is now dedicated to teaching both kids and adults about preserving the Earth. Visitors can also still see the fruit orchard planted on the site back in 1906. 

Emily Oaks Nature Center, Skokie, IL

The Emily Oaks Nature Center in Skokie features 13 acres of savanna with native grasses, oak trees, and wildlife including flying squirrels, red foxes, river snakes, and more. A three-acre pond also sits on the property, as well. The nature center itself offers classes and interactive events for children and adults. 

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1000 Monroe Drive, Bloomington, IL
Our goal is to raise $130,000.00 to help keep the Mansion open, but we can't do it alone. Your donation/membership in the David Davis Mansion Found... Read More
Campus Box 9100, Fell Arboretum 116, Normal, IL
Mission:The Fell Arboretum is committed to collecting diverse species of trees and other plants integrated with art and architecture on the campus ... Read More
650 North Lombard, Mahomet, IL
The garden has evolved over a period of years from a small garden outside the museum to the eight acres it covers today. A major renovation in 1974... Read More
2520 North Prospect, Peoria, IL
Luthy Botanical Garden encompasses five acres and offers over a dozen theme gardens, a Conservatory, a garden gift shop educational programming, nu... Read More
5809 Forest Park Drive, Peoria Heights, IL
Nestled in the beautiful forested bluffs of the Illinois River, visitors to this unique 540-acre Nature Center and Preserve will experience the nat... Read More
Lincoln Avenue, Urbana, IL
The mission of the Arboretum at the University of Illinois is to discover, interpret and disseminate knowledge in the plant sciences and applied ar... Read More
1505 North Broadway, Urbana, IL
Located at the north end of Crystal Lake Park, the Anita Purves Nature Center is an environmental education facility open free to the public. Next ... Read More
2315 Clear Lake Avenue, Springfield, IL
In 1869, Justice of the Peace, L. B. Adams purchased a home and surrounding acreage in Springfield, Illinois, from Rev. Simeon W. Harkey, President... Read More
1501 S Grand Ave W, Springfield, IL
Washington Park on the west side of Springfield is a 150-acre site added to the park district in 1901. This is one of the historic parks, developed... Read More
1740 W Fayette Avenue, Springfield, IL
The Springfield Park District's Washington Park Botanical Garden is a place for enjoyment and education. The Garden provides a scene of tranquility... Read More
12000 Boy Scout Trail, Petersburg, IL
About Us:Located on 48 acres in southern Menard County, IL, Starhill Forest is a private arboretum owned andoperated by the Sternberg family since ... Read More
2301 East Lake Drive, Springfield, IL
The Garden represents the landscape Abraham Lincoln would have known growing up and living in the Midwest, containing plants native to the three st... Read More
2204 Dewitt Avenue East, Mattoon, IL
The Douglas-Hart Nature Center consists of 65 acres of native Illinois habitat including prairie, woodland, and wetland. The center includes a... Read More
25055 West Walnut Lane, Channahon, IL
The Four Rivers Environmental Education Center is a model of green architecture, featuring geothermal heat and air conditioning, recycled building ... Read More
110 West Madison Street, Yorkville, IL
Hands on fun awaits at the Laws of Nature Center. Exhibits on prairies, insects, Native Americans and more. Visit with live bees, snakes, salamande... Read More
23202 West Renwick Road, Plainfield, IL
A variety of fun and educational public programs are hosted seasonally at the Lake Renwick Heron Rookery Visitor Center, including bird viewing pro... Read More
5253 East US Highway 40, Altamont, IL
Our HistoryThe history of Ballard Nature Center originates with the nature center's namesake Mr. Ernest "Ernie" Ballard. Ernie Ballard had a dream ... Read More
2501 Highland Park Drive, Joliet, IL
If you enjoy nature, be sure to visit the Pilcher Park Nature Center. Bring your family out for hiking, biking or cross country skiing. The Nature ... Read More
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