Lincoln Park Conservatory’s Spring Rising treats winter-weary souls

Today is the first official day of this buds-on-the-trees and rain boots-to-your-knees season. However, is March in Chicago going to feel like is it really spring? Or am I going to have to waddle like a penguin to avoid falling on the sheet of ice that turns my building’s driveway into a never-ending rom-com called “Girl Meets Cement?”

Cue the solution to winter dread: Lincoln Park Conservatory.

Breath of fresh air

The urge to hibernate is fierce during the on-again/off-again fling with spring, but you just have to get out there. Need some incentive to hit the road to the Conservatory? Admission is always free, and it seems strange for a busy area like Lincoln Park, but you can actually find free parking along Stockton Drive. We visited on our toddler’s schedule (i.e. way too early on a Sunday), and we actually scored a free spot. There is a paid lot if the holy grail of free city parking proves to be elusive.

As you walk into the Conservatory the steamy air feels more like a tropical island than the Windy City. Just make sure to dress your kiddo crew in layers, so everyone can adjust and be comfortable for the fun inside.

Pops of color

There are some stairs inside the Conservatory, but we made it straight to the “Spring Rising” exhibit on a stroller-friendly path. After all of the winter greyness, the bursts of bright pink, crisp white and cheerful yellow flowers were a welcome sight. The show features everything from azaleas and daffodils to tulips and orchids, so there is no shortage of beautiful blossoms.

We enjoyed pointing out the different types of flowers to our son. He is only one, so I am not sure how much registered, but it is never too early to start training him on mother’s day bouquet shopping, right?

The sniff test

Let’s be real, parenthood is not always kind to your sense of smell, so the powerful swirl of sweet flowers is a gift. Be sure to let your little ones join in the sniff-a-thon by stopping at the “Smell” signs to catch a whiff of scent-friendly flowers and plants such as lilacs.

Escape artist

Once you are done being dazzled by the colorful flowers and alluring aromas, look up! Chicago-based artist Michael Thompson’s creations are the crowning glory of this airy space. Thompson uses bamboo frames and stretched muslin, which he collages with treasures that he found in Chicago and on trips to China, Korea and Vietnam. Everything from kimonos to scrolls adorn his hanging sculptures throughout the exhibit and evoke a sense of his far-flung travels.

Squeeze in a quick visit to the “Spring Rising” exhibit or spend a couple of hours soaking in all of the lush greenery throughout the Conservatory, either way your family is in for a post-winter dose of natural beauty.

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