The day was rainy and we knew that no matter what we did that we were going to be crazy busy with a one year old and an almost three-year-old sibling.
We realized that we needed a few things from the store, so at first, I thought the older would accompany me to the store, something she loves to do.
I then thought of the Grove, a place we have grown to love over the years. Our three boys were taken here more than once and when I was taking care of our eight year old granddaughter, she and I went there once for a visit. It was and has been a favorite. It is nearby, it is a hidden gem, it is generally not crowded, and it works on a rainy day. Win and win!
MK and I decided to pack up the kids, in our whirlwind decision, and we went to the Grove. As it happens, our two charges are children of parents even married at the Grove. It seemed like just the right thing to do on a rainy day.
We arrived and the two owls outside the information center were there for us to see. That set the mood for our charges. The beauty of this place is that the set up is such that even a one-year-old toddler can see things and not get into trouble. There are stuffed animals (of the taxidermy variety) of all sorts and types and the turtle set up that you see at toddler level catches the attention right after you enter the building. The main room has beautiful displays of the turtles, snakes, every type of local fish imaginable in lovely aquariums, and even a kestrel. The adjacent room has tadpoles, bullfrogs, toads, kissing cockroaches, mice, snakes, fish, and more.
The staff is wonderful and helpful, and when I was unable to help the almost three-year-old up onto a stool (my one year old charge was frightened for some reason), a staff member did. This was to take us into a room where the resident skunk is kept. That was an extra special treat. Needless to say, said skunk had been treated so she could not spray.
They even opened their gift shop for us early and it is stocked with wonderful items that are educational and meaning filled.
The place is nearby, free, and a place that we need to revisit more often, it is truly a gem on the North Shore of Chicago that many people just seem to ignore.