If knowledge is power, then nature museums can provide humanity with the strength to subdue super volcanoes with one steely glance. Gain the upper hand against wily Mother Nature with today’s Groupon: for $30, you get a one-year family membership to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, which is valid for two adults, any children under 18 in the same household, and caretakers (a $60 value).
Whether you love the outdoors or prefer to watch it on TV, the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum will change the way you see the midwestern prairie on your next camping trip and revolutionize your understanding of the Chicago waterways you pass on your commute. Add a flutter of color to Chicago winters at the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven, one of the museum's most beloved permanent exhibitions. Housed in a 2,700-square-foot greenhouse, pools of water and tropical flora provide lush perches for more than 75 species of butterflies and birds, enough to perform musical numbers with more than a dozen Disney princesses simultaneously. Study 1,000 butterfly wings to inspire your latest art project, or let their delicate flight take your imagination to new heights, like World 5, where you get Kuribo's shoe.
Discover the mysteries of the marsh as you learn about its endangered species and spooky creatures, such as black widow spiders, water scorpions, and stick bugs. Let your ear for music and eye for design rove over the colorful plumage and melodic songs of Chicago's birds. The nature museum's visiting exhibitions track migrating images, such as Lost Panoramas, as they journey north to nest in photo preserves. When the weather warms up, head out to the museum's outdoor restored natural prairie and take a birdwalk to discover wildlife that flits across the city skyline.
A family membership provides a plethora of benefits, letting members partake in all the museum's natural glory. Membership includes unlimited admission for family members and caretakers, 10% off at the museum shop and café, subscription to Nature Museum News, free or discounted admission to hundreds of museums nationwide, and a foolproof butterfly disguise.
- even jaded adults will be excited when bright yellow butterflies land on their shoulders. – Fodor's
- Perhaps the most popular spot among the post-puberty crowd is the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven, which is home to more than 250 species of butterflies and open year-round. In summer the 2,700-square-foot greenhouse is a relaxing retreat; in winter the splash of color offers a refreshing pick-me-up and a reminder that winter can't last forever. – Kate Rockwood, Centerstage Chicago
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
The Chicago Academy of Sciences created a library and collection of flora and fauna specimens that burnt in the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, just 14 years after its inception. By 1894, the academy had regrouped and rebuilt its collection in Lincoln Park, where it stood for more than 100 years. In 1999, the academy turned it into the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, a family-friendly museum filled with exhibits that let visitors explore the flora, fauna, and ecology of the Great Lakes region.
The 6.35-acre campus hosts more than 15,000 plants, 13,000 birds, and 22,000 amphibians and reptiles in its specimen collections. As visitors walk through Popular attractions include the Judy Istock Butterfly Haven, where visitors can stand in a swirl of 1,000 exotic butterflies, and Mysteries of the Marsh and the Istock Family Look-in Lab, which feature dozens of living creatures, such as turtles, snakes, and giant bugs. The two-story Extreme Green House offers a hands-on look at the materials and technologies that surround us.
In addition to educating the public, the museum is a local leader in wildlife conservation. It's nestled in acres of restored prairie, where visitors can spot migratory birds and other native critters and plants. Outdoor exhibits include 17,000 square feet of green roofs, a restored-prairie nature trail, and a rooftop birdwalk.