In the mood for spring greening? Monday, 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

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.

Apr. 13 & 14, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Admission: Most activities are free; $25/car parking
Chicago Botanic Garden, 1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe

Trash to Treasure at Morton Arboretum
Morton Arboretum invites families to discover the world of recycling through fun games and making a recycled craft to take home.  This is a self-guided hands-on discovery activity.

Daily in April, 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

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.

Sat., Apr. 13, 9 a.m.
Admission: Free
Kent Fuller Air Station, 2400 Compass Rd., Glenview

photo: Adler Planetarium

Earthfest at Adler Planetarium
Join Adler Planetarium for Earthfest, where kids of all ages will explore the time scales between weather and climate and examine the science behind climate change. As a family, participate in citizen science projects, view art pieces that spark discussion and meet with climate change experts. By reflecting on our day-to-day choices with an eye towards the future, we have the power to make the biggest impacts.

Apr. 13, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Admission: Free with general admission; $12/adults, $8/ages 3-11
Adler Planetarium, 1300 S. Lake Shore Dr., Museum Campus

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.

Sun., Apr. 14 , 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m.; Recycling event Apr. 13 & 14in North Parking Lot
Admission: Free with general admission; $21.95/adults, $15.95/ages 3-11; (discounts available online)
8400 31st St., Brookfield

Animals in Spring at Wonder Works
For Earth Day, Wonder Works will celebrate the wild animals that live in the Chicago area. Young children and their caregivers can explore, play and create as they discover what mammals, birds, turtles, frogs, and bugs do as spring arrives in our parks and neighborhoods. Participants can dig for soil creatures, investigate pond life with magnifiers and microscopes, touch preserved specimens of mammals and birds, make tracks like those found near their homes, and play with plush and plastic creatures in the art room and Great Outdoors Exhibit.

Fri., Apr. 19 & Sat., Apr. 20; 10 a.m.-noon
Admission: Included in general admission, $8/person
Wonder Works, 6445 W. North Ave., Oak Park

Earth Day Celebration at Kent Fuller Air Station Prairie
Join the Glenview community for 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.

Sat., Apr. 20, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Admission: Free
Kent Fuller Air Station, 2400 Compass Rd., Glenview

Wag! Earth Day Clean-up
Wag!, the on-demand pet walking and boarding app, is mobilizing dog walkers, pet parents and dog lovers for a pet-friendly cleanup in Grant Park. Wag! believes everyone should have safe, clean destinations to enjoy outdoor adventures with dogs. Unfortunately, litter and environmentally destructive waste can take away from these special places. Earth Day Weekend is the perfect opportunity to rally walkers and pet parents on the Wag! platform, along with other pet and park lovers, to join a neighborhood cleanup in one of Chicago’s most dog-friendly spaces. Volunteers will help remove trash from the park, giving back to a dog-friendly location pet parents love so dearly.

Sat., Apr. 20 , 9 a.m.-noon
Admission: Free
Grand Park, 951 S. Columbus Dr.

Earth Day at Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
Pay tribute to Earth Day by visiting nature at Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and enjoy activities with Gotham Greens throughout the day.

Sun., Apr. 22, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Admission: $9/adults $6/ages 3-12
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
2430 N. Cannon Dr., Lincoln Park

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 30th Annual Chicago Earth Day Clean-Up & Celebration. 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. For other Chicago Park District clean-up opportunities, check the Friends of the Parks website.

Sat., Apr. 27; Cleanup and tree planting, 9 a.m.-noon; Celebration, noon-2 p.m.
Admission: Free
1440 N. Humboldt Dr., Humboldt Park

Party for the Planet at Cosley Zoo
This zoo is small (just five acres!) but mighty—especially for Earth Day. Explore various ways you and your family can get involved in conservation initiatives by visiting with local organizations and businesses and learn how to “Spring into Action!” this year. Also, be on the lookout for the Lorax! 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.

Sat., Apr. 27, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
Admission: Included in regular zoo entry fee of $7/adults; Free for Wheaton residents and ages 17 & under
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. The entire family will celebrate nature with games, activities, music, food and a native plant sale.

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.

Sun., Apr. 28, noon-4 p.m.
Admission: Free
650 Brummel St., Skokie

Cradles to Crayons Earth Day Drive
This Earth Day, help protect the environment and help a child by recycling children’s items to Cradles to Crayons Chicago. Families can drop off donations of new and gently used clothing at nine pop-up collection sites in Chicago and nearby suburbs. Items needed: clothing, jackets, and shoes (newborn-adult), infant and tween toys and books.

Earth Day Dropoff Locations:
• The Giving Factory (4141 W. George St., Irving Park), 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
• Garfield Park Conservatory (300 N. Central Park Ave., Garfield Park), 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
• Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum (2430 N. Cannon Dr., Lincoln Park), 8 a.m.-1 p.m.
• South Side YMCA (6330 S. Stony Island Ave., Woodlawn), 10 a.m.-1 p.m.


— Maria Chambers


Nature Centers with Wild Perks for Kids

Hiking Trails That Even Toddlers Will Love

8 Easy Activities to Do as a Family on Earth Day & Every Day, Too