GLENCOE, IL – The Chicago Botanic Garden will begin charging for admission next year for the first time since it was founded in 1972. The new fees for non-members will coincide with a reduction in the cost of parking, officials said on Friday. of the garden.
Built on portions of mostly unincorporated land belonging to the Cook County Forest Reserve District, the garden is county-owned and operated by the Chicago Horticultural Society. The 385-acre attraction has seen a 43% increase in attendance over the past 10 years, according to a statement.
Jean Franczyk, president and CEO of the garden, said in a statement that the new entrance fee and reduced parking fees will help cover the costs of maintaining the garden to meet the increased demand while ensuring accessibility.
“Nature is in demand,” Franczyk said. “We know that people live happier and healthier lives when they spend time in nature. People come to our garden to surround themselves with beauty, find respite from the stress of today’s world and be inspired by nature. “
Tickets will range from around $ 10 to $ 26, with discounts available for purchase before a visit and 2022 prices not exceeding $ 24 for residents of Cook County. Parking will remain free for members. For non-members, the rate will drop from $ 20 to $ 30 per car to a year-round flat rate of $ 8.
Free or discounted tickets and parking will also be available for Chicago Botanic Garden members, teachers and school groups, active-duty military personnel, Illinois Link cardholders, and others.
The garden will also offer 52 days of free admission per year to align with other museums and zoos in the region. The program will include 14 free days during the peak spring and summer season and several public holidays, according to the release.
Admission fees will include seasonal offers such as the Grand Tram Tour, Butterflies & Blooms, and the Model Railroad Garden: Landmarks of America.
Garden officials hope to incentivize more memberships by offering perks such as priority access to paid events, discounted entry to special exhibitions and other events, as well as parking and a free entry.
According to the horticultural society Annual Report, taxpayers provided about $ 9 million of the district’s $ 53 million in operating revenue last year.