Escape to nature without leaving Chicago

As the dark and cold winter days set in, it’s easy to forget the beauty and spirit of nature. Just the smell of flowers or sight of greenery can transport you to a warmer place. Here are the best places to get a taste of the outdoors while still being inside this winter.

When the cold weather sets in for another long Chicago winter, it’s time to hit these local hot spots that will make you feel like you’re visiting the tropics.

With more than two acres of indoor display houses, the GarfieldPark Conservatory is the ideal place to spend a chilly winter day.From the moment you enter the display houses, you feel the warmthamid the exotic flowers, plants, ponds and lagoons. Don’t miss theElizabeth Morse Genius Children’s Garden, where kids explore andlearn about the plants and flowers with interactive displays. EachMonday morning, 10 a.m.-noon, the Morning Glories program lets kidsget their hands dirty in the dig pit, water plants and even do aproject.

  • 300 N. Central Park Ave.,Chicago
  • garfieldconservatory.org

Garfield Park Conservatory


To get a true taste of the outdoors, there is no better placethan the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, where natural landscapesand wildlife are brought indoors. You quickly can warm up in theJudy Istock Butterfly Haven that houses more than 75 species ofexotic butterflies and birds. With more than 1,000 butterflies andlots of tropical trees and flowers, it’s a breath of fresh air on adreary winter day. Also, the museum’s newest exhibit, AnimalSecrets, gives kids the chance to discover hidden habitats offorest animals from the animal’s point of view. You can interactwith animals such as the tiger salamander and spotted turtle,explore a dark woodland cave, or investigate how animals forage forfood and build their homes.

  • 2430 N. Cannon Drive, Chicago
  • naturemuseum.org

The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum


If you are up for making a trip to Navy Pier, the stunningCrystal Gardens will transport you to a warmer climate. With itssix-story glass atrium, the one-acre indoor palm court featurestowering palm trees and seasonal flowers and plants. Its dancing”leap-frog” fountains are sure to entertain and delight. Bring yourlunch, because with tons of seating areas, it’s a perfect place fora winter picnic with wonderful views of the city.

  • 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago
  • navypier.com

If you are up for making a trip to Navy Pier, the stunning CrystalGardens will transport you to a warmer climate. With its six-storyglass atrium, the one-acre indoor palm court features towering palmtrees and seasonal flowers and plants. Its dancing “leap-frog”fountains are sure to entertain and delight. Bring your lunch,because with tons of seating areas, it’s a perfect place for awinter picnic with wonderful views of the city.

n600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago

nnavypier.com

Navy Pier Crystal Gardens


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