Go Outside

Photo credit: Oscar Shen (Creative Commons)

Chicago Wilderness > GO OUTSIDE
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Places to Visit   

Nature getaways are inspiring, healthy and fun. For an hour, a day or a weekend, explore a local preserve or natural area and be reinvigorated by the landscape you help Chicago Wilderness protect. Engage your family in the outdoors and build the memories that will last a lifetime. 

You can explore nature close by your home, or discover someplace new.  Many places are accessible by public transit. 


The Chicago Wilderness region – stretching from southern Wisconsin, through northern Illinois, into northwestern Indiana and southwestern Michigan – contains great biological diversity (biodiversity). Biodiversity is the variety of plant and animal species and ecosystems within a geographic area. A natural area is considered “healthy” when there is a high level of biodiversity, an optimal balance of plant, animal, and fish species.

The Chicago Wilderness region holds a variety of types of natural areas, or habitats, including prairies, woodlands, wetlands, and waters.

Eleven Fresh Ways to See Nature

When you take a walk in a woods or prairie, are you experiencing it with all the vivid intensity nature offers? Learn 11 ways to shift your awareness into high gear.

Prepare for Your Visit

Checklist for a safe and enjoyable adventure:

Hydrate. Drink lots of water, especially during longer or more strenuous activity.

Protect yourself from sun & scratches. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses, closed-toed shoes, long pants and shirt (dress in layers in colder weather), and apply sunscreen and lip balm.

Repel bugs. Check your whole body for ticks within 24 hours. Ward off chiggers with a little bug spray on your ankles.

Avoid lightning. If you’re caught in a thunderstorm, head for (in order of preference): a building, your car, tree cover (but stay away from the biggest trees, and never seek refuge under a lone tree).  Not options? Lie flat or get low until the storm passes.

See far in the wide-open spaces. Don’t forget your binoculars and a camera.