Create Your Own Adventure This Summer in the Forest Preserves of Cook County


Endless ways to explore 70,000 acres of wild and wonderful

With summer just around the corner, now is the perfect time for area residents to begin planning an adventure in the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Forest Preserves’ nearly 70,000 acres of wild and wonderful offer numerous opportunities to escape life’s hustle and bustle for an hour, a day or even a night. Residents can feel free to boldly explore 300 miles of trails, learn about archery, visit a Nature Center, or pitch a tent at one of five campgrounds. The Forest Preserves of Cook County have all of the programs, tools and equipment for a summer full of adventure:

While spending the night under the stars at one of the Forest Preserves’ five campgrounds, campers can enjoy free weekend activities between Memorial Day and Labor Day – including Friday and Saturday evening programs and night campfires, and Saturday afternoon activities and hikes. The Forest Preserves also offers a free Camping 101 programs to learn the basics of camping.

Swimming and Aquatics:
Kids can play and swim, and families can relax all summer long at one of three aquatic centers. The Forest Preserves aquatic center management team, Swim Chicago Southland, offers a swim school, aquatic fitness programs and water rehabilitation – as well as the expected 100,000 gallons of water fun. On Saturday, May 27, the Forest Preserves is offering free admission at all three Aquatic Centers, and on May 28-29, families can enjoy half-priced admission.

Ziplining and Treetop Adventures:
For residents looking to create an exciting adventure, the Go Ape Treetop Adventure and Zip Line Course offers a unique two- to three-hour trek through the forest canopy. The course includes 40 obstacles situated more than 40 feet high and five zip lines for a total of 2,837 feet of exhilaration.

The Forest Preserves’ summertime film series – Films in the Forest – features films with a nature connection presented along with family-friendly activities based on the movie. This season’s movie lineup includes “Batman,” “The Angry Birds Movie,” “Finding Dory” and “Zootopia.” Attendees can pack a dinner picnic and enjoy a relaxing evening of fun and entertainment at scenic preserves throughout the summer.

For music lovers, the Forest Preserves’ summertime Forest Jams series offers the opportunity to join a group jam session, learn about making instruments from natural and recycled materials, and enjoy concerts by local musicians.

Nature Centers:
Each of the Forest Preserves’ six Nature Centers offers a unique experience, while highlighting local geology, native plants and animals, and provides a number of educational, family-friendly special events and programs throughout the season.

Residents can plan a day on the water while paddling in the preserves, with eight boating lakes throughout the Forest Preserves, and numerous boat launch locations along the Des Plaines River, Little Calumet River and North Branch of the Chicago River. Boat rentals are also available at Busse Reservoir, Maple Lake, Tampier Lake and Skokie Lagoons.

Anglers can drop a line at one of the Forest Preserves’ 40 managed sport fishing lakes. Some of the species found within FPCC waters include largemouth bass, walleye, muskie, northern pike, bluegill and crappie.

Residents looking for a relaxing way to spend a morning or afternoon can consider hitting the links at one of the Forest Preserves’ 10 golf course and four driving ranges.
To learn more about the Forest Preserves of Cook County, visit A complete listing of all events and programs is posted to the Forest Preserves’ events website at, with seasonal brochures that can be downloaded.

About the Forest Preserves of Cook County
Don’t you sometimes just want to escape? Explore the natural beauty of Cook County for an hour, a day or even a night. When you’re surrounded by 70,000 acres of wild and wonderful there’s no better place to feel free.
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