Weekend Retreat: Garfield Park Conservatory

The workweek is done and you need to get away. Thankfully, you don’t have to travel far to find a relaxing spot to unwind.

There’s no feeling quite like coming home Friday evening with the whole weekend ahead of you. Weekends are gold for us here and we try to soak up as much time as we can getting out and exploring the city.

However, if gloomy weather has you perplexed about how to make the most of your time, don’t fret. A relaxing sanctuary awaits in Garfield Park, and if you’ve never been, now is the perfect time to check it out!

garfield-park-1Connect With Nature Without Leaving the City

When you first enter the Garfield Park Conservatory, it’s quite literally a breath of fresh air as the big, glass doors help keep the area temperature controlled even in below freezing temperatures. In the winter, it’s amazing to go from brutal cold to tropical paradise in under a minute!

You’ll feel instantly refreshed by the sights and smells of the conservatory, and many of the plants have descriptions of what they are and where they originate.

Also… did I mention it’s free?

Each Room Something New Awaits

There are many rooms to explore within the conservatory. When you arrive, you’ll go either direction in the Palm House, which is full of grand trees and tropical flowers on the conservatory floor. Walk right and enter the Showroom, where nature and art meet. The Solerise Exhibit, seen above, is on display until Sept 22. Hurry before it’s gone!

Continue straight through the Aroid House where — if it’s not already taken — there’s a picturesque bench by the Koi pond. During the week, it’s great to take a moment to meditate or journal here in the peaceful environment — if it’s not too busy.

The Desert House comes next. See cacti and flowering desert plants here that may change the way you think about vast, arid landscapes. The Children’s Garden follows, but I tend to pass through that en route to one of my favorite rooms, called “Sugar From the Sun.” This room features fruit and vegetable plants like bananas, papaya and many more. I love to garden and cook, so this is always an interesting stop on my tour.

Saving the best for last, there’s the Fern Room. This area has plants that are native to the Illinois landscape, preserved as though it were 100 years ago. The beautiful water feature is a perfect place for your #GarfieldParkConservatory Instagram shot. (Just saying.)

There are a few more rooms and some additional outdoor sights to be seen,  but I’ll leave those to you.

So When Should I Go?

If you have the luxury of time, weekday crowds are smaller. Weekends, especially in winter, can become quite congested since it’s one of the only escapes we locals have! Still, it’s not as packed as other Chicago sites, so whenever you decide to go, you should have a wonderfully relaxing visit!

To see more happenings at the conservatory and plan your visit, check out www.garfieldparkconservatory.org.

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