Nestled right outside metro Chicago, this stop boasts breathtaking scenery and an unbelievable array of unique and exquisite flowers. With over 24 gardens and 385 acres, you are bound to discover something new each time you visit. Adding to the charm of this Real Chicago scenic sanctuary is the fact that it can be visited year-round. For with every season you’re offered a new bloom of extraordinarily distinctive sights, sounds, and smells. This Real Chicago experience was submitted by Caroline, a Chicago native and busy professional. She has found this oasis to be the perfect escape from her hectic life and loves spending afternoons taking in the sunshine and natural beauty. Caroline states, “The Chicago Botanical Gardens are truly a Real Chicago experience. The peaceful environment will captivate you for hours at a time and your farewell will leave you anticipating your next visit.” The Chicago Botanical Gardens opened to the public in 1971 with a mission to promote enjoyment, understanding and conservation of plants and the natural world. It is one of the most visited public gardens in the United States with approximately 760,000 visitors each year. With so much to see and smell, it is no wonder that so many people visit each year. The gardens encompass 9,000 different varieties of plants, ponds and waterfalls, you are sure to find a spot that will become your new retreat. The official start of summer is less than a week away and this plant museum is the perfect place to spend a warm, sunny afternoon. Be sure to check out the Heritage Garden, the Sensory Garden and the Waterfall Garden as those are some of Caroline’s must see gardens. Visit The Chicago Botanical Gardens at: 100 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe, IL 60022. Hours are 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily from June 5 through September 5. Admission is free but parking varies between $7 to $60 depending on the day and size of vehicle. Be sure to read our blog for other great Real Chicago ideas from the Drake Hotel. Ready to come? Book your hotel room in Chicago at the Drake Hotel.