By Emalee Kay Photos by Daniel Marques
During the cold winter months in Chicago it can be very easy to get into the habit of just staying home. For those looking to break the streak of ‘Netflix and chill’ this season, there are a number of fun and free things to do in the city this winter.
The first place that we are featuring in the ‘Winter is the new Summer’ series is The Garfield Park Conservatory. As you can assume, the location of this spot is in the west side neighborhood of Garfield Park in Chicago, Illinois. The Conservatory conveniently offers free parking and admission with the suggestion that if you have something to give, donations are accepted. If you are in need of public transportation, the Garfield Park Conservatory is located right off the Green line at the ‘Conservatory’ stop. The Conservatory is open daily 9a.m. to 5p.m. and until 8p.m. on Wednesday.
Enough logistics though, what makes this place so awesome? Well, besides the fact that it is a warm place to hang out in the winter, the place is a giant indoor garden! The Conservatory features multiple types of gardens from multiple types of climate zones.
The first garden you enter is called the ‘Palm House’, featuring a warm and humid temperature that houses tropical palms and plants. The ‘Palm House’ section of the Garfield Park Conservatory features a massive Scheelea Palm which the founders state “is probably the largest of its kind in any conservatory in the country. “
The center, and largest room in the conservatory, is the ‘Fern Room’. This epic piece of the conservatory was created in 1906 by designer Jen Jensen, and depicts her vision of “giving the visitors a glimpse of what Illinois might have looked like millions of years ago. Featuring native ferns, rocky terrain, and a custom indoor lagoon completes the humid, damp, swampy atmosphere that was present in prehistoric Chicago.
Another great feature of the Garfield Park Conservatory is the ‘Sugar from the Sun’ installation. This room features many of the fruits that we buy at our local super markets growing from the source. Some of the plants that you can witness in action are grapefruits, oranges, bananas, lemons, limes, and a cinnamon tree! If this isn't’ enough the exhibit also features landmarks throughout the trail explaining and depicting the process of photosynthesis.
These are just a couple of the rooms featured in the wonderful Garfield Park Conservatory, others include; The Children's Garden, The Dessert House, The Aroid House, The (seasonal) Show House, and The Horticultural Hall. These are of course the ones that are open during the winter months, during the summer there is a whole world of things to explore outside as well! Another reason to head to the Garfield Park Conservatory is the fact that they offer several low cost classes that teach anything from composting to beekeeping. So the next time you are bored, looking for an inexpensive place to take a date, maybe babysitting, or have some time to kill, check out the amazing Garfield Park Conservatory!
Info:Garfield Park Conservatory 300 North Central Park Ave., Chicago, Illinois 60624-1945 Daily Hours: 9 am - 5 pm Wednesdays: 9 am - 8 pm Admission is FREE! http://www.garfieldconservatory.org/
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