A day spent with cousins is a good day indeed. My sister in law picked the most magical day trip for us and we all loaded up the vans to go on a troll hunt at the Morton Arboretum.

There is no shortage of places to explore and wander when visiting Chicago. Our favorite thing though is enjoying time with our family. The downside of living so far away is that our children don’t get to play with their cousins often. So when we are together, we try to give them as much time together as we can. For this visit, my sister-in-law heard about a new exhibit at the Morton Arboretum. Part sculpture and part immersive art experience, heading out on a troll hunt on a blustery Chicago day was more fun than we could have even imagined.

Smile! I wonder where she learned it from. The trolls were magnificent! The best part: a photo of the cousins smiling at the same time!

Scattered throughout the 1700 acres of this living museum; are whimsical sculptures of Trolls. The Trolls, handmade out of recycled materials, were created by a Danish artist named Thomas Dambo. His work can be seen throughout the world and as a special display at this arboretum in Lisle, Illinois. Dambo, along with his team, scour the local waste and recycling centers for materials to create the giants. Two other of his scultures were on display for a Halloween festival in Suwanne, Florida back in 2015. The delightful Trolls of the Morton Arboretum will be on display through the summer of 2019, depending on how well they survive the Chicago winter.

The first part of our journey we spent a bit of time at the Children’s Garden at the Arboretum; which in of itself is worth a separate visit. It’s a whimsical garden with a series of 15 hidden gnomes do look for throughout the space. With the diligent eyes of the children we managed to find at least 13 of them. Soon after that, everyone was beginning to get hungry, and luckily I had a few graham cracker packages stashed away to help hold everyone over. (Note: always have snacks. ALWAYS). Then we were off on a hike to find the Trolls! The first two were quite easy to spot and fairly close to the visitor center, through a disco ball filled forest and around a hill. It is worth noting – access to one of the Trolls is restricted during the holiday light installation. Once we were driving away from the visitor center to find the rest of the Trolls, everyone’s enthusiasm returned and we were soon racing up a hill against the Chicago wind to get to the guardian Troll on the hill. That one turned out to be my favorite, due to the incredible size of the spear sculpture and the detail of the Troll’s hair.

Gramps standing guard with Joe the Guardian. It was a cold and steep hike up to see the delightful Troll, but well worth it to see the sculpture up close! The detail in the flowing Troll hair and the massive spear were fantastic!

It was such fun watching the kids race from the trail head to find the Trolls, each kiddo buzzing with excitement. One of the Trolls hiding places had some wonderful trees to climb, and climb they did. Five little monkeys in the tree, all looked down and smiled for me. I’m so grateful for these photos and the memories we made on this adventure.

Perhaps the highlight of our adventure, finding the Trolls “secret” hideout was such a joy. Filled with whimsy and no detail overlooked. You can find photo ops in all corners and enjoy exploring around the trolls home, complete with Troll toothbrushes and a cauldron big enough¬† for a human or two.

Oh dear. It seems that I am going to be made into Troll stew! Finding the Troll hideout was a highlight of our day!

If you are able, I recommend visiting the Trolls sooner rather than later. They will be around until the Spring. However, Chicago winters are known for being harsh. Here’s to hoping you can still see them next summer when the arboretum is in full bloom!¬†

Thank you so much for visiting our site. I hope this article inspires you to seek out some spontaneous adventure of your own. Thank you for following along and may your day be filled with wonder as you wander. - Nichole