The Hidden Oaks Nature Center in Bolingbrook is a great spot for kids to learn about nature, indoors and out. There is a lot to explore here during the summer months, but don’t discount its value during the colder months.
419 Trout Farm Road
Hours: Monday–Saturday 9 am – 5 pm; Sunday 12 pm – 5 pm
The nature center building itself is impressive. It boasts an award-winning, environmentally friendly design crowned by a green roof. When you walk in, you’ll find an interactive nature display, including a “match-the-sounds-and-scents” game that makes noises and shoots out different scents at the push of a button, a giant tree showcasing animal habitats, and small animal cages.
If you visit in the summer months, ask the front desk if they have any honey for sale from their beehives. The main level also has bathrooms and water fountains if needed.
Take the stairs or elevator up to the Discovery Room, where there is a color and drawing zone, sensory zone, and reading zone. This area also has more critters to discover, which include, tortoises, turtles, beetles, and more. This is a great activity during the winter months. Younger children, up to about 8, could easily spend an hour exploring this room without getting bored.
Also, you’ll find the rooftop picnic area, which has live plants on the deck during the warm months and a gorgeous view of the entire Hidden Oaks Conservation Area. Remember to pack your own food, as there’s none for sale in the building.
The grounds outside the center are beautifully landscaped. Birds flock to feeders and butterflies dance among wildflower patches. Explore the trails, check out giant metal sculptures, play in the nature-inspired playground, or walk down to the trout pond. (If you want to fish, you’ll need a permit.)
The entire area is worth exploring! Because some spots have lots of tree cover, I recommend bringing bug spray if you want to play outside. We forgot and really regretted not being able to stay in the play area longer.
All in all, Hidden Oaks makes a great day trip or even a quick stop for fresh air and new sights. Whether you stay inside or explore the outdoors, there is something here for all ages, maybe even the family dog. A perfect way to cap the trip off: stopping at the nearby Portillo’s for hot dogs or chocolate cake shakes!
Looking for more nature centers? Check out our full list!