Recently, my children and I visited the Garfield Park Conservatory for the first time. Wow, were we in awe of the beautiful, colorful, lush surroundings! It is especially inspiring leading up to spring as the colors, textures and smells heighten all the senses. I’d imagine the Conservatory is a wonderful place to visit year round, it occupies approximately two acres inside, where thousands of plant species are on display throughout eight rooms.
Garfield Park Conservatory
300 N. Central Park Ave. Chicago, IL 60624 Phone (312) 746-5100
Daily Hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm Wednesdays: 9:00am – 8:00pm
Admission is FREE every single day although donations at the door are greatly appreciated. There is free parking in the Visitor’s Parking Lot just South of the Conservatory entrance. It was very easy to find when driving from Chicago’s Western Suburbs (signs on and off the highway leading directly to the parking lot).
Currently, the Conservatory’s Show House is transformed into a celebration of baseball in Chicago with the special exhibit Spring Flower Show: Spring Training. My kids just loved seeing icons of Wrigley Field mixed in among the beautiful flowers and foliage. Some of the highlights include the iconic Wrigley Field Marquee, the ivy covered wall and the World Series Trophy. Hurry, this beautiful and unique exhibit will be on display through May 14, 2017.
We happened to visit on a Monday during the Morning Glories Program which is a weekly drop-in session. Activities are fun, interactive, and encourage children’s curiosity about the natural world. Stations include planting projects, soil digging stations, tours, story-time, and more. The weather happened to be so beautiful on our visit that Morning Glories was held outside in the outdoor Children’s Garden. We played with rocks, made music, and used our imagination with large pieces of fabric.
On Wednesday afternoon, visit for the Wild Wednesday program where families can get dirty and discover new things about plants, animals and nature.
Gardens and Collections
The GPC is a haven for gorgeous plants, flowers, foliage and landscapes. We felt so inspired moving from each area, it really prompted my kids and I to talk about the different colors, textures and smells that we were taking in. Just walking through each area and stopping to observe, talk and breathe took up several hours!
We ended our visit with a trip to the gift shop where they each purchased a small take home planting project (each cost around $4). Overall, we just loved our time together at The Garfield Park Conservatory as it helped us to see and appreciate the beauty in our surroundings. It is a place I know my kids will ask to go to again and I will very happily agree to take them! And that seems like a “W” for all of us!
Want to read more about Garfield Park Conservatory?
An earlier visit from September, 2012
By Annie Tandy
Garfield Park Conservatory is one of my favorite places to take my kids. It doesn’t matter what the weather is like outside, it’s always beautiful, fresh and fun there. We love to walk around the different houses, ducking under arches full of hanging plants, enjoying water falls, stepping over streams, exploring moss covered stones, watching fish in the ponds… and of course the children’s garden. I think I’ve said this before, but when we go it always feels like we’re on a tropical vacation!
Today I woke up and didn’t know what we were going to do, so funny enough I looked at the lists of places to go on Kidlist! I hadn’t gone to Garfield Park Conservatory since all the hail damage last year and missed walking around there. It turned out to be an awesome day to go because they have various kids activities on Mondays.
My kids learned how to save seeds from marigolds and make their own seed packet to keep them in. They went down the slide many times and played in a huge tub of dry dirt filled with buckets, shovels, pretend vegetables and flowers to plant. There were also tents set up to play in, storytime and various toys and blankets throughout the children’s area.
While we were playing in the kids area my daughter had to go to the bathroom, which happens to be at the front entrance to the conservatory. I am so glad we made it over there because in the little nook where the bathrooms are there is an art exhibit from the Museum of Contemporary Art! Imagine a room filled with about three feet of white balloons… it was like a dream.
(The balloons are a little bigger and thicker than normal, but I wouldn’t feel right unless I mentioned that you always have to be careful and not let kids put the balloons in their mouths.)
There is a representative from the museum there from 10am-5pm Monday through Friday making sure there aren’t too many people in the room at one time and all the balloons stay in there. It is so much fun! On the way home my kids asked me if we could fill one of the rooms in our house with balloons… Good thing the exhibit will be there until October 15. We will have to go back.
And all of this was FREE!
Here are the details:
Morning Glories for Families
Every Monday Morning
Date: Year Round
Time: Drop in anytime between 10 am – Noon
No registration required.
Location: Elizabeth Morse Genius Children’s Garden
Cost: Donations appreciated
“Half the air in a given space” Art Exhibit
Tuesday, September 11 through Monday, October 15
Hours: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Visit the MCA website for more information about this installation.
Garfield Park Conservatory
300 N. Central Park Ave.
Chicago, IL 60624-1996