Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum opens new 'Secret Forest' exhibit for kids

There’s a new activity for Chicagoland’s tiniest residents. They can enjoy the great outdoors from the comfort of the indoors.

At the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Lincoln Park, a new exhibit allows crawlers and tots to touch, observe and experience wilderness safely. It’s called the Secret Forest and is included in general museum admission.

"It reminds me of when we went camping at our cousin's house once," said Everett, a young guest visiting with his family. The exhibit features large canvass tents with a plush campfire, logs and rocks.

"I think I'm making a fire," said Everett’s brother, Clive.


Outside the tents are wild animals, painted on the walls, like a skunk.

There’s an indoor playset with a slide, a curvy tunnel and a wall featuring different types of faux animal fur to touch. There is a wooden ship, with wheels and knobs.

Large picture windows peer out into Lincoln Park. Every day a story time is offered.

"We have a special place for story time here in the secret forest," said Zack Ater, the Guest Experience and Engagement Senior Director. "Different parts of the museum are all ages, but here it’s for that young audience, ages 1 to 6."

"It's good for little ones. And you can also keep an eye on them in this exhibit," said Everett.

Parents can head to for a daily schedule of events at the Secret Forest.