Stopping to smell the roses at Chicago Botanic Garden will no longer be free starting in 2022.
The 385 acres of gardens in Glencoe boast millions of plants and flowers and host over 1 million visitors each year.
In the past decade, the Botanic Garden has seen a 43% increase in attendance.
“Nature is in demand,” said Jean M. Franczyk, the garden’s president and CEO. “Updating our admission structure will help us maintain the garden and meet that growing demand, while providing significant accessibility to the garden.”
Ticket prices will range from $9.95 to $25.95 per person. Admission fees will be discounted when purchased in advance and will not exceed $23.95 for a Cook County resident adult ticket in 2022, or $25.95 for a non-Cook County resident.
The garden is projected to earn about $2 million annually through admission fees based on economic modeling, according to Franczyk.
The parking fee, implemented in 1982, will be reduced in 2022 from $20-$30 per car to $8. Garden members will continue to have free parking.
Free and reduced admission tickets and parking will be available to these guests:
- Active-duty U.S. military personnel and/or their families, reservists and former prisoners of war. Military veterans on select days.
- Illinois teachers and self-guided school groups.
- Illinois LINK cardholders.
- Chicago Museum Library Pass Holders. (Additional admission passes are being shared with 198 Chicago and suburban libraries).
The Garden will also be offering 52 free admission days per year that will align with major Chicago-area museums.
Seasonal experiences like the Grand Tram Tour, Butterflies & Blooms and the Model Railroad Garden: Landmarks of America will still be available at no extra cost.
Many Chicagoans took to Twitter and Facebook to express their feelings about the change.
“No thanks. I’ll go to the nature preserve instead,” said Heather Leigh in response to WGN TV’s Facebook post about the new admission fee.
Another commenter, Alex Sasha, on the same post said, “You can look at weeds in your own yard. For free.”
“This makes me sad as I often used the Garden as a biking destination where I would bike there simply to have lunch and then turn back around and head home,” said Lynn Prindes in the comments to the Chicago Tribune’s Facebook post.
A supporter Michael Polydoris commented on the Tribune’s post about the garden’s admission fee.
“It’s an amazing place and worth it.”