A Little Time and a Keyboard: Indoor Tropical Splendor at Garfield Park Conservatory {Chicago}

Indoor Tropical Splendor at Garfield Park Conservatory {Chicago}

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The tropical palm room of the Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago.
A warm welcome to the conservatory in the Palm Room!
A tropical oasis thrives in Chicago! Our recent visit to the Garfield Park Conservatory revealed a wonderland of year-round warm temperatures and greenery. A warm weather adventure was very much welcome with our natural landscape still dull and few plants emerging!

Stunning from beginning to end:

When we first walked into the conservatory, we were immediately treated to the tropics with the Palm Room. Seeing so much greenery and occasional bursts of colors from blooms was refreshing on a winter day. I was also nursing a cold and the humidity did wonders for clearing it up!

Brilliant blooms await in the Show Room at the Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago.
How could you not take a picture in the Show Room?
Room after room unfolded before us each with its own theme. Next, we entered the Show Room which was populated with brilliant flowers including an early explosion of daffodils throughout! While I am sure we will be seeing daffodils emerging in the weeks to come, seeing them Sunday was invigorating. I felt that this room was well laid out and one of the better ones for taking pictures.

Sweet daffodils!
The Desert Room was easily one of our favorites! I am always amazed by the number of cacti and succulents there are--in a wide variety of sizes. Music playing in the room was created using various fronds and needles of plants. Really cool!

Desert Room Garfield Park Conservatory
Fun for kids:

While the gardens provide many discoveries for families, the Elizabeth Morse Genius Children's Garden affords opportunities for children to get more hands-on. Kids can spy inside of a seed to see a plant ready to emerge, slide down the vine of  green slide, touch a sensitive plant that has leaves that curl in response to touch and more. From time to time, there are additional activities in this garden.

Kids' area Garfield Park Conservatory.
Take a peek to see a plant ready to emerge!
Favorite highlights:

Other highlights included visiting tranquil waterfalls and ponds, seeing elaborate root systems of the rainforest, learning interesting facts about many of the plants in the conservatory and being able to pause and take a moment to enjoy a little bit of summer in winter.

Elaborate rainforest root system at Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago.
What a root system!
The areas featuring water elements are quite popular. However, I was able to snap a quick picture of the pond and waterfall in the Aroid House which features many of the houseplants you may already be familiar with.

Coy in a pond at Garfield Park Conservatory.
Serene coy pond and waterfall.
A little history:

Garfield Park Conservatory was originally constructed between 1906 and 1907. At 4.5 acres inside and out, the conservatory ranks among one of the largest in the nation. At the time of its construction, Designer Jens Jensen's concept of creating multiple indoor landscapes under glass was revolutionary. The conservatory suffered considerable damage during a hailstorm in 2011. Repairs have been quite a process but it is amazing to see that conservatory has been able to successfully reopen to the public.

Peeking through the vines in the conservatory at Garfield Park.
Peeking through the vines!
The indoor gardens are supplemented with outdoor gardens during the warmer months including the Monet Garden which is an interpretation of Monet's garden at Giverny. The outdoor Play & Grow Garden gives children another opportunity to experience nature hands-on.

Nature ablaze.
Our visit was just the respite we needed! I look forward to visiting again once the outdoor gardens are in bloom!

  • Scavenger hunts are available online for you to print off in advance of your visit
  • Wear layers that you can easily take off. The warmer areas of the conservatory may take you by surprise, so be prepared for temperatures that differ from that outside.
  • Bring water and take sips along the way to prevent dehydration.
  • The Garfield Park Conservatory is open every day of the year making it an easy attraction to add to your Chicago itinerary as well as a spur of the moment attraction for locals!
  • There is a gift shop in the conservatory that has light snacks.
  • Admission is free but donations are suggested to help keep this wonderful treasure available to the community!


  1. Wow! Beautiful place and beautiful photos!

  2. I love the Lincoln Park Conservatory but haven't been to this one - now I really want to go!

  3. Oh, It looks so beautiful and warm! Would be a great day for a cold winter visit!