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Family Travel Planning Made Easier

Get out in Nature in the Chicago Suburbs with Kids

What would your kids say if you asked them if they wanted to hunt for trolls? On our way home from a recent weekend getaway, we decided to take a slight detour to the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL, a Chicago Suburb, to experience Troll Hunting as a Family. We were blown away and what we thought would be a quick detour on the way home to stretch our legs turned into a 2+ hour experience. We can’t wait to go back and spend more time at this magical place less than an hour outside of downtown Chicago.


Morton Arboretum

The Morton Arboretum is a magical place, indeed. Considered “a living tree museum,” at the Arboretum curiosity grows, kids flourish and all ages learn to appreciate and respect nature. There are things to discover and magic to find in every corner of this 1,700-acre outdoor classroom including the recent Trolls Installation. The Trolls arrived in the Spring of 2018 and will guard the Morton Arboretum until 2019. They are stunning, larger-than-life art pieces crafted from reclaimed wood by Danish artist Thomas Dambo. According to the Arboretum website “The trolls share the Arboretum’s desire to care for trees; however, they seem suspicious of humans. We need you to join the investigation and help trolls and humans come to understand each other. What will you discover when you join the hunt?”

Know Before You Go:

  • Plan on at least 2 hours but you could easily spend an entire day here or more.
  • There are 16 miles of trails.
  • Ginkgo Restaurant and Cafe offers meals, snacks or specialty coffee or simply bring a picnic.
  • There is an entire adventure and garden area for kids.
  • You can drive, hike or bike around the entire 1,700 acres.
  • Be aware there are mosquitos as it’s out in nature so it’s probably a good idea to bring bug spray along.
  • There are a couple areas for the kids to get wet and splash around in the water so it’s probably good to have an extra change of clothes just in case. However, swimsuits are prohibited.

A great way to cool off on a hot summer day at Morten Arboretum.


Tips for a Successful Troll Hunt

  • Be sure to grab a Troll Hunt Map at the entrance of the Arboretum
  • If you only have a couple of hours you can start at the east side visitor center and see two trolls (by P2 and P1 – again, refer to the troll map.) Then head to the west side and drive around until you hit the parking lot P29. Park here and walk to the troll across the road lying on the ground. Then back in the parking lot (P29) look for a trail with wood chips and follow that to the secret Troll hideout. The Troll hideout alone is so well worth a visit here.
  • Remember to leave without a trace. If everyone picked a wildflower or grabbed a pine cone there wouldn’t be any left in nature.
  • View the YouTube video on the making of this incredible exhibit to further educate your kids on the process of these amazing art installations.

Have you ever hunted for trolls as a family?



Other Things To Do

  • Rent bikes at the visitors center or bring your own to explore this amazing place.
  • Go through the maze. There is a scavenger hunt you can follow, however, the devices that give the clues were not working properly when we were there.
  • Leave plenty of time for the Adventure Woods with the kids.
    • There are lots of climbing opportunities.
    • Kids of all ages can get “watered” with the watering can or take a walk in the stream to cool off.
  • Take your kids to the Sterling Morton Library to read about the trolls through books about trolls and nature and also build a model hideout.
  • Check out the list of events they have going on at the Arboretum such as Arbor evenings with music, the nature at night tram trail or the seasonal festivals and installations.


We were reminded during this adventure that sometimes, the most magical places are right outside your backdoor – or require a quick little detour from your original path. Whether troll hunting, learning the native trees in your area or simply discovering a new park on your travels, we encourage you to #optoutside with your kids for the ultimate family adventure – it’s good for their education…and their souls!

Kids imaginations come to life in the Troll hideout.



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