(Brenna Hernandez / Shedd Aquarium)

If you’re seeking activities that don’t break the bank this winter, look no further than local museums, zoos and gardens. A number have announced free admission days in 2024.

(Field Museum / Facebook)
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Admission for a Chicago adult will increase from $9 to $15 at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and from $18 to $21 at the Field Museum. The Park District Board of Commissioners approved the hikes Wednesday.

A freshly molted cicada, near an exoskeleton. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Region / Flickr Creative Commons)

What's that you say? Cicadas have been uncommonly loud all day long? There's likely a simple explanation for the sustained volume.

The Nature Museum will reopen July 8. (Courtesy of Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum / Facebook)

Though many Chicagoans found refuge in nature during the pandemic, the physical Nature Museum in Lincoln Park has been shuttered since spring 2020. 

Volunteering looks different during the pandemic, but organizations still need support. (Courtesy of Northwest Side Solidarity Network)

Volunteering looks different during the pandemic, but organizations still need support. The Chicago Volunteer Expo is moving forward with its annual event, where people can learn about opportunities at scores of nonprofits, but has shifted to a virtual platform.

Monarch butterflies have started their 2,000-mile migration south to Mexico. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

The annual migration of monarch butterflies is currently at its peak in the Chicago area. Several roosting sites have been spotted around town as the creatures use the city as a pit stop on their 2,000-mile journey to Mexico.

Regal fritillary butterfly. (Doug Taron)

Similar in size to the monarch, the regal fritillary is also a stunner in the looks department, but the native prairie butterfly has nearly disappeared from Illinois. To save this pollinator, we need to save the prairie.

Dandelions are an important food source for pollinators, especially in the spring. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

The dandelion — a once-prized plant that gardeners used to exhibit at county fairs — now holds the title of Public Lawn Enemy No. 1. But is this reputation deserved?

Dr. May Berenbaum, professor of entomology and head of the Department of Entomology at the University of Illinois (Courtesy University of Illinois)

The polar bear has become the poster child for climate change, but increasing temperatures impact many forms of life – including insects. Dr. May Berenbaum weighs in on what that means for the rest of life on Earth. 

One of 52 Blanding’s turtles released Wednesday at a DuPage County Forest Preserve site. (Ashley Hosmer / Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum)

After spending their first year at Chicago’s Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, dozens of endangered Blanding’s turtles were released into the wild as part of a preservation effort that started more than 20 years ago.

A monarch butterfly (Pixnio)

It’s a colorful sign of summer: brightly colored butterflies floating on the wind. From nature museums to forest preserves to beachfront parks, Chicago has plenty of spots to see these beautiful insects. Here are 10 of the best. 

 “Dreamcatcher” (2000), © Thomas D. Mangelsen

A world-renowned nature photographer visits Chicago for the opening of an exhibition of his truly magnificent wildlife pictures at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum.

A Fowler’s toad (Courtesy Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum)

By tracking the types, frequency and intensity of frog mating calls, experts hope to gauge the success of conservation efforts in an area commonly referred to as the city’s dumping ground. 

Shirlee, a Blanding’s turtle, as a new hatchling in 2017 (Courtesy Forest Preserve District of DuPage County)

A rare yellow-hued Blanding’s turtle who called Chicago home has moved out to the suburbs, where she’s helping to spread the word about the plight of her endangered species throughout Illinois.

Conservationists are preparing to release about 20 smooth green snakes, like the one pictured here, into an enclosed setting on July 25. (Courtesy Lincoln Park Zoo)

Conservation-minded volunteers in suburban Barrington are attracting snakes to their own backyards – on purpose.

(Courtesy of Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum)

We peek behind the scenes at an exotic butterfly sanctuary in Chicago, and learn how volunteers help scientists track butterfly populations.