Trade a Mother’s Day bouquet for a day at the conservatory

The last thing moms need on Mother’s Day is stress. Hosting a big meal means clean-up, before and after. Brunches are delicious, but on Mother’s Day, they’re also crowded and expensive.

What we want is to be with our families in a relaxing and beautiful environment, where kids can run free and we can stop a minute and smell the flowers. Lucky for us moms,Garfield Park Conservatory provides the perfect city oasis.

No matter what the weather outside, a walk through the conservatory means a walk through lush gardens, native prairies, a tropical rainforest and warm desert air. Mother’s Day, May 9, marks the final day of the gorgeous Spring Flower Show. Enjoy the reds, pinks and blues of spring blossoms, especially the featured hydrangeas. If you think kids will be bored, make a game of finding certain colors, shapes or flowers.

In fact, kids can stop at the Admission Desk and ask for a scavenger hunt. The hunt requires kids to locate trees, shrubs and flowers in each room of the conservatory using written clues and their keen eyesight. Be warned: the hunt is a challenge and little ones will need a parent’s help. But, at the end of the quest, kids feel a sense of pride in the finish and even qualify for a small reward.

If the weather is nice, take advantage of the beautiful outdoor gardens. It’s hard to believe that you can find so much open grassland, ponds with lily pads and gorgeous sculptures in an urban setting. I love to sit on a bench in the sun while my sons race across the grass and roll down the conservatory’s hills. We’ve bought ice cream bars and found that elusive “quality time” sitting at tables and watching butterflies fly from bloom to bloom each summer.

Admission to Garfield Park Conservatoryis free, although they do ask for a donation from families visiting during special events like the Spring Flower Show. Open every day of the year, the conservatory is located at 300 N. Central Park, with an adjacent free parking lot, and is just steps away from the Green Line El.

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