Garfield Park Conservatory- Bringing the Outdoors Indoors

| December 14, 2009 | 0 Comments

With winter in full force, I am already missing green grass and flip-flops.  And it is just the beginning of snow and frigid temps and brutal wind-  a.k.a. all the things that come with the territory of winter in Chicagoland.    In order to survive this winter with my two rambunctious boys and one rambunctious pup, I am making a list of places we can go to get out of the house and have a little energy-burning indoor fun.  At the top of that list for us, is the Garfield Park Conservatory.

The Garfield Park Conservatory is an indoor botanical garden just outside the city.  It is like a little oasis of green and natural beauty in the midst of the bustling city around.  They have several different rooms, all with a different theme or type of plant habitat.  There is the fern room and the desert room and the palm room, …  One exhibit is called “Sugar from the Sun” and the room is filled with all kinds of fruit-bearing plants including a banana tree, a papaya tree, oranges, limes and even the somewhat obscure kumquat tree.  You can’t pick the fruit but it is surely a sight to see a ginormous papaya tree growing in December only 15min from Lake Michigan.  They also have a small little children’s garden complete with play area for the babies, a giant seed the kids can climb on and a fun twisty slide for the older kids.  There is even a dig pit where at certain times they allow the children to get in there and get dirty.  How awesome to be able to do that when it is 10 degrees outside! Kids love mud anytime of year!  The folks at Garfield Park weekly arrange several neat activities for the kiddos and the kids-at-heart.  You can even take classes on beekeeping if that is your cup-of-tea.  And because the Garfield Park Conservatory is part of the Chicago Park District, admission is totally free!   They even have a free-parking lot right next to the entrance.  This just keeps getting better and better.  The conservatory is just 10min outside the city on the green line for those city-dwellers who need a bit of green now and then too.

Going on now until January 10th, their show room is filled to overflowing with every imaginable type of poinsettia plant.  It is all decked out for Christmas and is absolutely beautiful!  This is the one room where a little snow would fit right in, but I was certainly grateful for the warmth.  It is next to impossible to not be in the holiday spirit when surrounding by these breath-taking plants.  This display is something you definitely don’t want to miss.

My boys and I walked around, seeing all the different plants, for almost two hours.  We sat on a bench and ate our lunch amidst the poinsettias, a little indoor picnic of sorts.  It was just the thing we needed on that cold, cold day.  I have a feeling we will become fairly regular visitors to the Garfield Park Conservatory this winter and beyond.  It is like being outside, minus the wind and the bugs and extreme temps.  Count me in!

Garfield Park Conservatory
300 N. Central Park Ave.
Chicago, IL 60624-1996
Daily Hours: 9 am – 5 pm Wednesdays: 9 am – 8 pm
Closed Christmas Eve and New Years Eve, Open Christmas Day and New Years Day

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Category: Art & Leisure

About the Author ()

Farrah Brown is a part-time nurse and full-time babywearing mom who is always on the lookout for those "hidden gems" in the western suburbs. She can also be found blogging at BabyLove Slings and ChicagoMomsBlog and her newest project, DupageMamas. Oh, and check out her beautiful handmade slings at

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