Chicago, Garfield Park Conservatory: A Novel Place to Sit and Be Still
April 19, 2017

Chicago, Garfield Park Conservatory: A Novel Place to Sit and Be Still

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Have you read The Secret Garden? I’m long overdue for a reread, myself. Dust off your copy and bring it with you to this gem in Chicago, Garfield Park Conservatory. It’s a magnificent wonderland of green palms and flowers sashaying amongst warm temperatures that swell your senses. Aren’t I romantic? Maybe I should have titled this, 50 Shades of Green.


If you happen to be visiting (or live in) Chicago, Garfield Park Conservatory is a must. This inner-city oasis offers a great time for everyone in the family, or couples! Did I mention 50 Shades of Green? Although, it’s probably most similar to the movie adaptation of Great Expectations. I digress…Cal and I came here quite a bit, even before Punky was born. 

Conveniently located along Chicago’s Green Line, the train stop (not the beer) is about half a block from the entrance. I say, “ride the L!” The train ride can be part of the adventure! The short walk from the L makes this an ideal place to visit during Chicago’s cold winters and our sweltering summers. If you don’t want to take the train, no worries there is plenty of free parking. Yes, free parking still exists in Chicago…for now.

At the entrance,  what I presume to be, a volunteer notifies you that the conservatory “accepts donations”. I’ve never felt pressured to give a donation, which also adds to the appeal of this gem. This is a great place to spend the day for large families, low-income families or if you’re just cheap, like me. (Being cheap saves you money! Read about how I do, here). The conservatory is truly just magical, not just because I’m cheap.

Of course, if it’s on your heart to donate it’s a great exercise in supporting conservation. Use the experience as a conversation starter on citizenship for the youngsters. Give, even if you don’t have to, for the greater good…seriously, I am so romantic.  I tend to overuse “romantic” so just stay with me.

Chicago, Garfield Park Conservatory

Speaking of romance, what’s to love at
Chicago, Garfield Park Conservatory?

In short, everything! But as any great romance writer should, I’ll give details.


Size doesn’t matter.

Whether your breath is taken away by the wide shot of the Palm House or by the tiny peppercorns growing in the “Sugar in the Sun” exhibit, this enchanted garden offers studies in perspective from every angle.  You have to come here with an open mind though because you can easily walk through in just 20 minutes. If you’re too quick you’ll have missed a great opportunity to literally stop and smell the roses…which again is me being romantic. I’m not even sure that I’ve ever seen a rose here. But I’ve smelled fresh cardamom and cocoa. This experience is about noticing small details which make a big impact, either in the greater eco-system or just to relax the mind. 

Chicago, Garfield Park Conservatory

Be still

During the day, you can find Chicago, Garfield Park Conservatory filled with moms whose kids are playing in the Children’s Garden. You’ll also notice freelancers just sitting around working. On my last trip, there was a mom sitting in The Fern Room just sitting on a bench with her baby lying next to her and they were both just quiet. Take in the serenity of the space.  How often do you get to just be still?  Of course, I was there with Punky & Cat so they are all about, “Mami come here!” “Look at the turtle!”  “Look at the fish” “Cat fell and her shoe is wet.”  To which I replied, “No, I’m not coming. You can sit here, with me, with your eyes closed and try to use your other senses, or not, but that’s what I’m doing.”  Take a moment to be still, you’ve earned it…the shoes will dry.

Let the kids run

The outdoor gardens are 12 acres of open space. On a recent trip it was barely 50 degrees, Cat and I still went outside to hop about.  This was a different trip from the shoe incident, promise. I didn’t take her to play outside with a wet shoe.  The outdoor gardens have been a great place for us to spend Mother’s Day. By that time of the year the flowers are blooming and if it is sunny, it’s perfect. Add this stop to your Mother’s Day agenda, and if you’re like Punky pack a picnic! 

Whether you’re packing a book to enjoy some quiet Mami time or taking the kids to enjoy the beauty that nature has to offer your trip to Chicago, Garfield Park Conservatory will not disappoint the senses. Let me know if you spot me in the outdoor gardens, I’ll be the one reading The Secret Garden.

Happy Adventuring! 


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7 thoughts on “Chicago, Garfield Park Conservatory: A Novel Place to Sit and Be Still

  1. Looks beautiful! I took the Green Line train for years to and from work and would only look at it from above. Another friend recently recommended I go there with my family. Definitely paying it a visit this summer!

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