When you need a little springtime, right this very
minute (not whenever it decides to show up in Chicago), you have
two options: Raid the kids' college fund and fly south, or stay
home and visit one of the area's conservatories, which offer a
whiff of spring for free.
My family's favorite has always been the Garfield Park
Conservatory, the granddaddy of Chicago conservatories and one of
the world's largest. It recently underwent a multimillion-dollar
Kids won't care that the conservatory was the brainchild
of famed landscape architect Jens Jensen, who wanted to create a
prairie landscape under glass. But they will care that both the
Garfield Park and Lincoln Park conservatories, along with the much
smaller conservatory in Oak Park, cater to kids as well as
Conservatory: The Elizabeth Morse Genius Children's
Garden is open whenever the conservatory is open. But every
Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., there's some kind of
special programming, whether it's planting an imaginary garden or
building a tropical habitat or reading a book. If you've got 20
minutes to spare any time before 2:45 p.m., let the kids make
something to take home-a plant bookmark, bee goggles or a
Special spring programming includes:
Conservatory: This conservatory at the north end of
Lincoln Park Zoo is always a great midway resting point during our
family trips to the zoo. It has four display areas: the Palm House,
Fern Room, Orchid House and Show House, which is home to the annual
Spring Flower Show through May 8.
Oak Park Conservatory:
Owned and operated by the Park District of Oak Park, this
conservatory draws up to 30,000 visitors annually, including
children who attend summer nature camps and "Exploration Station"
programming for children every Saturday from 10
When you visit, stop in the Tropical Room to say hello to
George, the Double Yellow-Headed Amazon Parrot. He'll answer
Cindy Richards is the mom of two who gets her muse from traveling the world, usually with kids in tow. She also writes for TravelingMom.com, where she also serves as editor.
See more of Cindy's stories here.
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