North Park Village Nature Center

  • 5801 N. Pulaski Rd.   Chicago, Illinois 60646 [View Map]
  • Park Hours:
  • Park Supervisor: Julie Sacco
  • Park Phone: (312) 744-5472

North Park Village Nature Center features a 46-acre nature preserve and educational facility, which are situated within the 155-acre North Park Village campus. The nature preserve offers trails that wind through woodland, wetland, prairie and savanna. A discovery room, a hands-on table of natural objects, and interactive displays are highlights of the Nature Center.

There are public programs for preschoolers, school age children, families and adults. EcoExplorers summer day camp focuses on nature-based games and learning activities for children aged 5-14 years old. Neighborhood Naturalists is a special outreach program serving third graders in Chicago Public Schools. Volunteers find many ways to express their interests at the Nature Center, including helping lead field trips, assisting during festivals, greeting visitors at the reception desk, and participating in ecological restoration efforts.

The mission of North Park Village Nature Center is to provide visitors with an opportunity to interact with and learn about wildlife and natural resources in an urban setting. There are programs, events and activities for all ages to enjoy while discovering our shared natural heritage at the first nature center within the city of Chicago. Open 7 days a week (excluding Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's holidays) from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm.

Whether you seek serenity, a place to spot a rare bird, or a place to volunteer your time and talent, visit this oasis of nature in the city – this hidden gem. 

History

The Nature Center is often described as a hidden gem in the city. But this site was well known to generations before us, and clues to how people used the land can be found here. The wild onion and wild leek growing in wet woods here inspired American Indians to name this area the “land of the stinking onion” which was translated to “Chicago” by European settlers. In the early 1800s, farmers drained the wet areas to plant crops. And in the late 1800s, a tree nursery was established under the ownership of Norwegian immigrant Pehr Petersen. The very successful Mr. Peterson provided all the trees and shrubs for the World’s Fair in 1893, most of the trees in Lincoln Park and up to seven-eighths of all the trees planted in Chicago’s parkways and boulevards by 1910.

In 1911, Chicago acquired the land from Peterson’s family and used 158 acres to create the Chicago Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium. This buffer of nature was used to prevent the disease from spreading, and to heal the patients admitted here. Portions of the land were changed into paths, gardens for growing food, fields to play and a pond for recreation. The building that would become the Nature Center was originally the Sanitarium’s dispensary, where certain patients could come to get their medications. Patients were here into the 1970s when the Sanitarium was closed.

In the 1980s, plans were to raze the land and construct strip malls and condominiums. However, community activists rallied against these plans, ushering in the preservation of North Park Village. In 1989, an easement was enacted to prohibit any development of this property and to define how it was to be maintained as a natural area for 75 years. Efforts are being made by today’s community activists to extend this protection into perpetuity.

Now, in a short stroll, visitors can experience a forest, a prairie, wetland and oak savanna. And in the 1980s, a sweet new tradition was begun: the Maple Syrup Festival, which taps into the very trees that Pehr Peterson planted more than a century ago. Eventually, programming and visits to the Nature Center grew with additional events such as the Harvest Festival, Winter Solstice, and City Wilds Fest.

On April 1, 2004 the Nature Center became part of the Chicago Park District. Whether you seek serenity, a place to spot a rare bird, or a place to volunteer your time and talent, visit this oasis of nature in the city – this hidden gem.

Parking/Directions

For directions using public transportation visit www.transitchicago.com.

North Park Village Birding Area

North Park Village Birding Area

Location Notes: 5801 N. Pulaski Rd.

North Park Village Path and Trail

North Park Village Path and Trail

Location Notes: 5801 N. Pulaski Rd.

North Park Village Prairie/Grassland

North Park Village Prairie/Grassland

Location Notes: 5801 N. Pulaski Rd.

North Park Village Savanna and Woodland

North Park Village Savanna and Woodland

Location Notes: 5801 N. Pulaski Rd.

North Park Village Wetland

North Park Village Wetland

Location Notes: 5801 N. Pulaski Rd.

Events

AUG
15

Theater Hikes at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

AUG
16

Theater Hikes at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

AUG
30

All About Turtles at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

AUG
30

Monarch Palooza at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

SEP
5

Fall Migratory Bird Walks at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

SEP
16

Armchair Explorers at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

SEP
18

Campfire Story Time at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

SEP
27

All About Turtles at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

OCT
3

Family Camping at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

OCT
6

Appealing Apples at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

OCT
10

Harvest Festival at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

OCT
11

All About Turtles at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

OCT
11

Harvest Festival at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

OCT
16

Theater Hikes at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

OCT
17

Theater Hikes at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

OCT
22

Appealing Apples at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

OCT
23

Campfire Story Time at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

NOV
1

Handcrafting Skills at NPV

Location: North Park Village Nature Center, Chicago, IL  IL

Click on the program name links below for program descriptions, availability information and to register online now (if available).

Name Number Type Category Ages Gender Dates Fee
Eco Explorers at NPV 116299CampsCamps - Special InterestAt least 13 but less than 15Coed2015/08/10 14:00From August 10, 2015 to August 14, 2015
Each Monday from 9am to 3pm
Each Tuesday from 9am to 3pm
Each Wednesday from 9am to 3pm
Each Thursday from 9am to 3pm
Each Friday from 9am to 3pm
$92.00
Eco Explorers at NPV 116293CampsCamps - Special InterestAt least 11 but less than 13Coed2015/08/03 14:00From August 3, 2015 to August 7, 2015
Each Monday from 9am to 3pm
Each Tuesday from 9am to 3pm
Each Wednesday from 9am to 3pm
Each Thursday from 9am to 3pm
Each Friday from 9am to 3pm
$92.00
Yoga at NPV 117885InstructionWellness - Yoga18 and upCoed2015/07/05 14:30From July 5, 2015 to September 27, 2015
Each Sunday from 9:30am to 10:30am
$0
Name Number Type Category Ages Gender Dates Fee
Yoga at NPV 147589InstructionWellness - Yoga18 and upCoed2015/10/04 14:30From October 4, 2015 to December 27, 2015
Each Sunday from 9:30am to 10:30am
Except the following dates:
Sunday, October 11, 2015
Sunday, December 6, 2015
Sunday, December 20, 2015
Plus the following dates:
Saturday, December 5, 2015 from 9:30am to 10:30am
Saturday, December 19, 2015 from 9:30am to 10:30am
$0
Yoga at NPV 147589InstructionWellness - Yoga18 and upCoed2015/10/04 14:30From October 4, 2015 to December 27, 2015
Each Sunday from 9:30am to 10:30am
Except the following dates:
Sunday, October 11, 2015
Sunday, December 6, 2015
Sunday, December 20, 2015
Plus the following dates:
Saturday, December 5, 2015 from 9:30am to 10:30am
Saturday, December 19, 2015 from 9:30am to 10:30am
$0
Yoga at NPV 147589InstructionWellness - Yoga18 and upCoed2015/10/04 14:30From October 4, 2015 to December 27, 2015
Each Sunday from 9:30am to 10:30am
Except the following dates:
Sunday, October 11, 2015
Sunday, December 6, 2015
Sunday, December 20, 2015
Plus the following dates:
Saturday, December 5, 2015 from 9:30am to 10:30am
Saturday, December 19, 2015 from 9:30am to 10:30am
$0

Photos & Videos

Reviews

Description

North Park Village Nature Center features a 46-acre nature preserve and educational facility, which are situated within the 155-acre North Park Village campus. The nature preserve offers trails that wind through woodland, wetland, prairie and savanna. A discovery room, a hands-on table of natural objects, and interactive displays are highlights of the Nature Center.

There are public programs for preschoolers, school age children, families and adults. EcoExplorers summer day camp focuses on nature-based games and learning activities for children aged 5-14 years old. Neighborhood Naturalists is a special outreach program serving third graders in Chicago Public Schools. Volunteers find many ways to express their interests at the Nature Center, including helping lead field trips, assisting during festivals, greeting visitors at the reception desk, and participating in ecological restoration efforts.

The mission of North Park Village Nature Center is to provide visitors with an opportunity to interact with and learn about wildlife and natural resources in an urban setting. There are programs, events and activities for all ages to enjoy while discovering our shared natural heritage at the first nature center within the city of Chicago. Open 7 days a week (excluding Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's holidays) from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm.

Whether you seek serenity, a place to spot a rare bird, or a place to volunteer your time and talent, visit this oasis of nature in the city – this hidden gem. 

The Nature Center is often described as a hidden gem in the city. But this site was well known to generations before us, and clues to how people used the land can be found here. The wild onion and wild leek growing in wet woods here inspired American Indians to name this area the “land of the stinking onion” which was translated to “Chicago” by European settlers. In the early 1800s, farmers drained the wet areas to plant crops. And in the late 1800s, a tree nursery was established under the ownership of Norwegian immigrant Pehr Petersen. The very successful Mr. Peterson provided all the trees and shrubs for the World’s Fair in 1893, most of the trees in Lincoln Park and up to seven-eighths of all the trees planted in Chicago’s parkways and boulevards by 1910.

In 1911, Chicago acquired the land from Peterson’s family and used 158 acres to create the Chicago Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium. This buffer of nature was used to prevent the disease from spreading, and to heal the patients admitted here. Portions of the land were changed into paths, gardens for growing food, fields to play and a pond for recreation. The building that would become the Nature Center was originally the Sanitarium’s dispensary, where certain patients could come to get their medications. Patients were here into the 1970s when the Sanitarium was closed.

In the 1980s, plans were to raze the land and construct strip malls and condominiums. However, community activists rallied against these plans, ushering in the preservation of North Park Village. In 1989, an easement was enacted to prohibit any development of this property and to define how it was to be maintained as a natural area for 75 years. Efforts are being made by today’s community activists to extend this protection into perpetuity.

Now, in a short stroll, visitors can experience a forest, a prairie, wetland and oak savanna. And in the 1980s, a sweet new tradition was begun: the Maple Syrup Festival, which taps into the very trees that Pehr Peterson planted more than a century ago. Eventually, programming and visits to the Nature Center grew with additional events such as the Harvest Festival, Winter Solstice, and City Wilds Fest.

On April 1, 2004 the Nature Center became part of the Chicago Park District. Whether you seek serenity, a place to spot a rare bird, or a place to volunteer your time and talent, visit this oasis of nature in the city – this hidden gem.

For directions using public transportation visit www.transitchicago.com.