In the mood for spring greening? Sunday, April 22 is Earth Day and prime time to show your love for the parks that make this a bright, happy place. Celebrate — and help spruce things up a bit — at family events happening everywhere from Humboldt Park to Skokie. Read on and get hands-on with cleanup and conservation.

photo: Chicago Botanic Garden

Earth Day Celebration at Kent Fuller Air Station Prairie
Join the Glenview community in family activities, nature walks, environmental exhibits and learn the history of the Air Station Prairie’s 32-acre tall grass prairie that once stretched for millions of square miles.

Held Sat., Apr. 14, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Admission: Free
Kent Fuller Air Station
2400 Compass Rd., Glenview

Celebrate Earth Day with Unearth Science Fest
Best way to learn science is to DO science. The Unearth Science Fest features hands-on activities, demos and experiments that will help kids explore the natural world with a full weekend of programming.

Held Apr. 20-21; see website for Friday, Sat. & Sun., 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Chicago Botanic Garden
1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe

Restoration Work Day at Kent Fuller Air Station Prairie
Slip on your gardening gloves and make a difference in the environment by collecting seeds or removing non-native invasive plants to make way for gorgeous wildflowers, grasses and tress. Meet at the Tyner Interpretive Center and enjoy a morning digging around in the dirt.

Held Sat., Apr. 21 & Sat., May 5; 9 a.m.-noon
Admission: Free
Kent Fuller Air Station
2400 Compass Rd., Glenview

photo: Adler Planetarium Earthfest

Earthfest at Adler Planetarium
Join Adler Planetarium for Earthfest: Seeing the Big Picture, where kids of all ages will learn about the impacts humans have had on the world, both intentional and unintentional. Lightbulbs were invented to help us see in the dark, cars were invented to help us move faster, but these marvels of human ingenuity make it harder to see the stars at night with the glittering lights and are heating up the Earth with the fuels we burn. Be a party of the discussion on how our species continues to shape our environment and celebrate the planet we call home.

Held Apr. 21 & 22; 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Admission: Free with general admission; $12/adults; $8/ages 3-11
Adler Planetarium
1300 S. Lake Shore Dr., Museum Campus

Build-a-Tree Eco-Workshop at Morton Arboretum
Morton Arboretum invites families to participate in a self-guided, hands-on discovery activity using natural and recycled materials to create a nature keepsake. A bottle cap tree, a newspaper bird, a popsicle flower . . . where will your creativity lead you? Keep coming back to build, because materials could change daily.

Held Daily in April and May; 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Admission: Free with admission; $15/adults; $10/ages 2-17; discounts available on Wednesdays
The Children’s Garden at The Morton Arboretum
4100 IL. Rte 53, Lisle

photo: courtesy of USFWSmidwest via flickr

Humboldt Park Earth Day Celebration
This one is a biggie. The park spans 219 acres and every corner turns up a new discovery, including a boathouse, fishing area, garden, outdoor swimming pool and beach and they’re hosting their 29th Annual Chicago Earth Day, “Your Earth, Your Legacy”. The park will provide T-shirts and gloves for the cleanup for those that register in advance, while supplies last. The day starts with cleanup and a tree planting and workers are rewarded with live music, celebration and lunch.

Held Sat., Apr. 21; Cleanup and tree planting, 9 a.m.-noon; Celebration, noon-2 p.m.
Admission: Free
1440 N. Humboldt Dr., Humboldt Park

Ping Tom Park Earth Day Clean-Up
Join Friends of the Parks’ Earth Day Park & Preserves Clean Up and Celebration at Ping Tom Park.  Earth Day do-gooders can clean up Ping Tom park and then head to Humboldt Park for the celebration from noon-2 p.m.


Held Sat., Apr. 21; 9 a.m.-noon
Admission: Free
Ping Tom Park
300 W. 19th St., Chinatown

Party for the Planet at Cosley Zoo
This zoo is small (just five acres!) but mighty — especially for Earth Day. Stop by its annual party to learn from businesses and conservation organizations about a wide variety of conservation efforts related to nature and wildlife. A local gem, this zoo focuses on domestic farm animals and Illinois native wildlife, so you’ll get up-close to a curious red fox, playful raccoons, adorable goats and more. There are also plenty of “creepy crawlies” such as snakes, insects, frogs and turtles.

Held Sat., Apr. 21, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Admission: Included in regular zoo entry fee of $7/adults; Free for Wheaton residents and ages 17 & up
1356 N. Gary Ave., Wheaton


photo: Emily Oaks Nature Center

Emily Oaks Nature Center Earth Day Celebration
Skokie’s peaceful oasis is beckoning you to its annual bash. This year is special because they’re celebrating their 30th birthday. Reflect with them on three decades of memories as you participate in engaging activities along the trails. Earth-friendly food will also be available for purchase.

Although just a compact 13 acres, Emily Oaks is filled with adventure areas and a wealth of wildlife. There are two main trails: a ¼-mile paved trail that loops through the woodland (perfect for strollers) and a ¼-mile wood chip trail around the pond.

Held Sun., Apr. 22, noon-4 p.m.
Admission: Free
650 Brummel St., Skokie
847-674-1500, ext. 2500

Family Fun Run and Walk the Earth Day at Wildwood
Do good for the Earth and make your Fitbit happy at the same time! Get in on the ground floor of this 1st annual Earth Day 5K and 2K Fun Walk/Run that celebrates our planet. Take in the fresh spring air as you make your way through Wildwood and stick around to help clean up the park and mulch the treas. Food and drinks will be available for purchase.

Held Sun. Apr. 22; arrive by 8:30 a.m., race starts at 9 a.m., cleanup until noon
Admission: $10-$30 for run/walk
Wildwood Park
6950 N. Hiawatha Ave., North Edgebrook
Online:, register at

brookfield-zoophoto: Jim Schulz/Chicago Zoological Society

Party for the Planet at Brookfield Zoo
Every day is Earth Day at this wild, wonderful spot. But one day a year, they throw a bash in honor of this big green world we live in. The day is filled with educational and fun activities for the entire family including tree planting, pansy planting in front of the Hamill Family Play Zoo, zoo chats, a showcasing of over 40 earth-friendly vendors at Eco Expo and more. Bring along items for their recycling event in the North parking lot. See their website for a complete list of accepted items.

Held Sun., Apr. 22, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Recycling event in North Parking Lot, 9:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.; Eco Expo, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Admission: Free with general admission; $21.95/adults, $15.95/ages 3-11; (discounts available online)
8400 31st St., Brookfield

Kids Earth Day Baking Class Extravaganza
Take the kids for a special Earth Day cake pops and cookies instructional class and demo that includes and apron and chef’s hat to wear during class, recipes and baked goods to take home and a Sugar Bliss tote bag.

Held Sun, Apr. 22; 1 p.m.-2:30 p.m.
Admission: $40
Sugar Bliss Cake Boutique
115 N. Wabash Ave., The Loop

photo: Shedd Aquarium courtesy of Maria Chambers

Washed Ashore at Shedd Aquarium
A 500-lb sea lion pup, a 13-foot eel and a 150 lb. Sea Jelly. See those and more in Shedd’s special exhibition featuring larger-than-life sculptures of aquatic animals, created entirely from plastic beach trash. The exhibit was created to illustrate how plastic pollution has become one of the gravest threats to both ocean and freshwater animals and help the public become a part of the solution.

Held daily through Sept. 30; Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat. & Sun., 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Admission: $39.95/adults; $29.95/ages 3-11
Shedd Aquarium
1200 S. Lake Shore Dr., Museum Campus

Earth Day at Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
Pay tribute to Earth Day by visiting nature at Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Swing by for drop-in cleaning workshops and composting demos before exploring the  beautiful grounds on nature walks.

Held Sun., Apr. 22, walks departing at 11 a.m. & noon
Admission: $9/adults $6/ages 3-12
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
2430 N. Cannon Dr., Lincoln Park

For other ideas on how to spend Earth Day at a park near you, visit the Friends of the Park website.

How are you going to celebrate Earth Day? Let us know in the Comments!

— Maria Chambers