There’s no better way to enjoy family time than in nature. Thankfully, the area around Westmont offers an abundance of outdoor spaces you can explore with kids. From protected wildlife preserves to public gardens, there’s something suited to adventurous families like yours. There’s never been a better time to get out and explore. Here are our seven favorite nature-filled experiences to see around Westmont, Illinois.

Hidden Lake Forest Preserve

Take the guesswork out of finding a place to explore and head to Hidden Lake Forest Preserve. This tranquil, 390-acre destination is in nearby Downers Grove. It features an ancient stand of red, white, and bur oak trees, a 15-acre lake, a 10-acre pond, and a river.

You can go kayaking, fishing, hiking, birding, and picnicking. This spot even features a new picnic shelter and a 2-mile walking trail.  Visit this pick in the spring, and you just might get to hear frogs like Peepers singing. The preserve is open every day from one hour after sunrise until one hour after sunset. Access the main entrance from Route 53, just south of Butterfield Road.

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve

A waterfall meets the river at a nature-filled experience in Westmont, Illinois

DSC00981-103” licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr by Joe K Gage

You don’t have to travel far from home to have an extraordinary outdoor adventure. Even your youngest family members will love Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve.  At 2,503 acres, it’s one of the largest and most popular destinations in DuPage County. 

The dynamic Rocky Glen waterfall is this park’s main attraction. There are also many other natural features that await you at this preserve. Here, families can get up close to Illinois wildlife, including more than 300 species of mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles. Bring your camera so you can photograph the kiddos playing in fields of blooming wildflowers or skipping down the path through a lush forest glade. Located in nearby Darien, you’ll access the park off Northgate Road.

Greene Valley Forest Preserve

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city this summer and head to Greene Valley Forest Preserve. This nature-focused spot In Naperville covers 1,388 acres and offers a spectacular 190-foot scenic overlook. Follow the road from the base of the hill and discover extraordinary views of Chicago’s skyline on weekends from May through October, weather permitting.

Greene Valley is also one of the area’s most botanically diverse sites, with an estimated 540 native plant species. The parking lot is on Greene Road, south of 79th Street. This family-friendly oasis offers 13.8 miles of trails for year-round fun. You can go:

  • Hiking.
  • Cross-country skiing.
  • Picnicking
  • Camping.
  • Birding.
  • Horseback riding.

The Morton Arboretum

Joy Morton of the Morton Salt Company established The Morton Arboretum in 1922. Located in Lisle, this 1,700-acre living museum and public garden offers guests a library, herbarium, an award-winning children’s garden, a maze, and 16 miles of walking paths. So whether you’re looking for a relaxing stroll or an active adventure with the kids, you’ll find it here.

Stop by for periodic events, like the annual Illumination experience. Everyone in the family will see trees in a whole new light at this one-of-a-kind gala featuring color, light, and sound. The Morton Arboretum also offers a variety of exhibitions, events, and dynamic educational experiences for all ages, like Little Acorns. Young explorers ages 18 to 35 months will hike, play, and learn with this hands-on program.

Illinois Prairie Path

The Illinois Prairie Path is one of the country’s first rails-to-trails conversion projects from the 1960s. This 61-mile path offers residents a vast network of trails throughout DuPage, Kane, and Cook Counties. Much of the trail is covered in crushed limestone, so it’s easygoing for most skill levels. You can also find restrooms and water fountains scattered along the way.

The path also intersects with many other popular hiking networks, including the Fox River Trail. Pick it up in nearby Naperville and follow it as it meanders under tree canopies and through open meadows. There’s something magical about strolling down the floating boardwalk where you may get the opportunity to spot egrets, herons, and other waterfowl.

Cosley Zoo

Organizers situated the Cosley Zoo on five modest acres in the Wheaton Park District. The parcel was once the site of a historic train station and today it’s home to many domestic animals and examples of Illinois’ native wildlife. This year-round facility is another prime destination for Westmont’s families.

This nature-filled experience offers many exciting programs for every animal lover in the family. For example, junior zookeepers can participate in the backyard bird identification program that kicks off every February. The zoo also features a tree-shaded picnic area plus seasonal concessions. Wander by exhibits and spot critters like:

  • White-tailed deer.
  • Red fox.
  • Blanding’s turtles.
  • Bobcat.
  • Coyote.

Chicago Portage National Historic Site

The Chicago Portage National Historic Site sits on the western end of the portage that links the Mississippi River with the Great Lakes. There are loads of activities here for nature lovers to do, like walking the Salt Creek Trail System, checking out scenic overlooks, birding, and volunteering. You can even book an interpretive tour if the history buff in your family wants to delve into the site’s details.

This 16.4-mile-long network of paved and unpaved paths runs along the Des Plaines River and offers residents scenic views of the area’s unique environment. Start your adventure at the Bemis Woods site on Wolf Road, south of 31st Street, if you’re new to hiking. This spot also offers a wide range of outdoor recreational amenities, including a canoe launch and cross country skiing.It can feel like a challenge to plan an outing when you’re not sure where to start. That’s why Crème de la Crème put together this list of Westmont’s most amazing nature-filled experiences. We hope our picks inspire you to grab the kids and explore the area. Do you have a favorite park, preserve, or nature spot we didn’t cover? Let us know so we can check out your recommended destination and add it to our list.