Sunday was probably one of the hottest days this summer. With the heat index it felt like 100 degrees. We were crazy to spend part of the day outside – looking for a sunflower field in or near Chicago. And guess what? We found a sunflower field at Matthiessen State Park about 1.5 hour drive outside of Chicago!
(This sunflower field is so much closer than the Pope Farm Conservancy near Madison, Wisconsin – where we explored sunflowers three years ago.)
Matthiessen State Park is located in Lasalle County – near Oglesby, Illinois. For reference, it’s about 96 miles southwest of Chicago or 1.5 hour drive (without traffic). I have never heard of this state park before. Probably because the more well-known and popular state park – Starved Rock – is nearby. But I’m so glad I finally discovered it. There’s more to the park than just the sunflower field!
Okay, now back to the sunflower field at Matthiessen State Park. It’s free to enter and enjoy! But please don’t take any sunflowers home. The sunflowers are not as mature (meaning fully grown but I’m not a sunflower expert) as some of the other fields we’ve seen but they were still so pretty and vibrant. According the park’s website, the sunflowers bloom from mid July to through the first week of August. With this summer being so hot, it seems like the sunflowers are at peak bloom this week. Again, I’m not a sunflower expert, just guessing here. The sunflower field can be accessed through the second entrance of the park. Just follow the small sign with a sunflower on it. Parking was fairly easy and it was a short walk into the field.
We stayed at the sunflower field for about 45 minutes. We let the twins and Luke run around the grassy field next to the sunflowers before venturing in. But with the heat and humidity on Sunday, it felt a bit uncomfortable to be outside with limited shade. There were pathways within the sunflower field for us to walk along and be very close to the sunflowers. There seemed to be a lot of people there but the field was big enough for all of us to social distance from each other. We brought plenty of water and the boys ran around the field before they told us they were too hot. We made the mistake of bringing a stroller instead of a wagon for the twins. Although there were paths, it was hard to push the stroller along. But we managed to snap a view fun pictures before we ran back to the car for air conditioning.
I had a handful of questions from other moms when I posted the picture from the sunflower field on Instagram about whether this place is kid-friendly or worth the drive from Chicago. My answer is yes and no. I would not recommend going during the middle of the day in this summer heat. There is no shade. The breeze helps but not so much. I do recommend going early in the morning or early evening. Your kids will have fun running around the maze. But you will may get a bit tired chasing them around. There are other things to do at the state park than just the sunflower field. So if you’re up for a walk or hike, it would be great. But it all depends on you and the temperament of your child(ren). For us, it was worth the drive to discover a new place,, especially a state park.
We will definitely be back to Matthiessen State Park later this summer and fall to explore more of what the park has to offer and the surrounding towns!
Other Sunflower Fields Near Chicago
We wanted to share other sunflower fields near Chicago that we considered visiting before deciding on the one at Matthiessen State Park. We chose to visit Matthiessen State Park because it was somewhere we have never been before and we wanted to explore a state park, which we’ve never done before. And it seemed really close and convenient from Chicago. We were lucky that we didn’t sit in traffic getting to and from there.
Tip: It seems like sunflowers bloom or peak at different times, depending on the location. Check the websites or call before going to make sure the sunflowers are still in bloom.
Von Bergen’s Country Market
Von Bergen’s Country Market has a sunflower maze. Located in Hebron, Illinois. Admission is $5 per person (free for kids 3 and under). Open daily from 9 AM to 8 PM.
Distance from Chicago: about 75 miles outside of Chicago or 1 hour 20 minute drive.
Address: 9805 Route 173, Hebron, Illinois.
County Line Orchard
Distance from Chicago – about 44 miles outside of Chicago or a 1 hour drive. Admission is $1. Pay for what you pick.
Address: 200 S County Line Rd, Hobart, IN 46342
M&D Farms and Garden Center
M&D Farms and Garden Center is not only a garden center but also has a sunflower maze, which will open in August. Admission is free. Check website for hours of operation. Located in Homer Glen, Illinois.
Distance from Chicago: about 32 miles outside of Chicago or 45 minute drive.
Address: 14946 S. Bell Road, Homer Glen, Illinois
Fair Oaks Farm
Fair Oaks Farm describes itself as an agriculture attraction in NW Indiana. During the peak bloom, you can pick your own sunflowers in the sunflower patch $2/stem. Check the website for hours of operation and when sunflowers are in peak bloom. Located in Fair Oaks, Indiana.
Distance from Chicago: about 80 miles out of Chicago or a 1 hour 25 minute drive.
Address: 856 N 600 E, Fair Oaks, Indiana
Heaps Giant Pumpkin Farm
Heaps Giant Pumpkin Farm is more than just pumpkins. Apparently they have a Sunflower Festival in early to mid-September. Admission $15. Located in Minooka, Illinois.
Distance from Chicago: about 53 miles outside of Chicago or a 1 hour drive.
Address: 4853 Highway 52, Minooka, Illinois
Johnson’s Farm Produce
Johnson’s Farm Produce is holding its sunflower festival on September 12, 13, 19, and 20 this year. Activities also include access to the U Pick fields, jump pad, obstacle course, pedal karts, tram rides, and more for kids. Admission is $8. Located in Hobart, Indiana.
Distance from Chicago: about 42 miles outside of Chicago or a 1 hour drive.
Address: 8960 East Ridge Road, Hobart, Indiana.