Explore Nature’s Playground at Garfield Park Conservatory

Chicago is home to one of the largest conservatories in the nation and it’s completely free to visit!

Gather up your kiddos and prepare to leave the Midwest weather behind with a tropical escape to Garfield Park Conservatory.

Located at the center of the city’s original West Side parks — Douglass, Garfield and Humboldt parks — the conservatory is a lush, green paradise located right here in Chicago.  

Quick details about Garfield Park Conservatory

Garfield Park Conservatory
Photo credit: Brian Kinyon

  • Hours: 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday-Sunday. Last entry is 90 minutes before closing. 
  • Getting there: The conservatory is just steps away from the Conservatory-Central Park Drive CTA green line station. A Divvy bike station is also located in front of the conservatory. 
  • Parking: Free parking is available in the visitor parking lot. Limited street parking is also available in the area. 

Explore tropical rainforests, arid deserts and more exciting climates housed in a glass-dome greenhouse. The conservatory also boasts 10 acres of outdoor gardens, including peaceful ponds, gardenscapes with skyline views and children’s play gardens. 

Whether you’re looking for a quiet escape from the urban hustle and bustle or for a place to bathe in the vibrancy of nature on a gloomy day, the Garfield Park Conservatory is an amazing, affordable option for all families. 

Read on to discover our favorite botanical sights and activities to enjoy with kids, and get some tips for making your day at the Conservatory one that every member of the family will enjoy. 

Things to do with kids at Garfield Park Conservatory

Photo credit: Brian Kinyon Photography

  • Explore 10 acres of outdoor gardens, including a Sensory Garden and a Play & Grow Garden for kids ages 0-8. 
  • Walk through impressive indoor showrooms that house tropical, desert and colorful plants. Tip: Little ones that love dinosaurs will love seeing the ancient cycads and ferns in the prehistoric Fern Room
  • Stop and smell seasonal blooms in the Show House, the venue for rotating flower shows. 
  • Find botanical-themed glass artwork in the Aroid House.
  • Enjoy a snack or find family programming at Horticulture Hall
  • The Elizabeth Morse Genius Children’s Garden is closed for renovations, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t add this beloved space to our list. Coming in 2025, the new garden and playscape will provide an exciting, nature-based adventure for families. Expect an accessible spiral ramp that leads to the historic glass roof, and a climbing space designed just for the conservatory. 

Tips for visiting Garfield Park Conservatory with kids

Photo credit: Garfield Park Conservatory/Brian Kinyon

  • When planning your visit, check the conservatory’s calendar for family programming like weekly Wild Wednesdays or Roving Naturalists programs on Saturdays. The conservatory also hosts gardening workshops, guided tours and more nature events. 
  • Children under 17 must be accompanied by an adult at all times. 
  • Wear comfortable shoes with some grip. The conservatory is a working greenhouse, which means some walkways can get a bit wet and slippery. 
  • Restrooms and a water fountain are at the front entrance. Plan on using the bathroom before you begin your visit. 
  • Strollers and small wagons are allowed. 
  • Snacks and non-alcoholic beverages are allowed, but must be consumed in the Horticulture Hall or the outdoor gardens. 
  • An unattended coat rack is available if you’d like to shed those winter coats and feel the tropical breeze. 
  • A limited number of wheelchairs are available for free on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Other things to do nearby

  • Visit Wonder Works Children’s Museum, just outside the city in the nearby Oak Park. 
  • Explore nearly 200 acres of Humboldt Park. The park offers plenty of sports fields and courts, scenic walking trails around a fishing lagoon and seasonal bike and swan boat rentals. Find family-friendly programming like Shakespeare in the Park, Movies in the Park and other Night Out in the Parks special events.
  • Visit the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture, the only self-standing Puerto Rican cultural museum in the country for more than 20 years.

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Nikki Roberts
Nikki Roberts
Nikki Roberts is the assistant editor on the Chicago Parent team. She is always on the lookout for the coolest and trendiest new attractions, restaurants and events for Chicagoland families. Her newsletters, online family guides and exciting digital content keep families informed on all the latest happenings around town.

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