If you’re looking for something to do indoors take a trip to the Garfield Park Conservatory which is open 365 days a year and is always free (suggested donation).
Below are events for adults and children.
Garfield Park Conservatory
300 North Central Park Avenue
Main Phone: 312-746-5100
Open 365 days a year. Daily Hours: 9 am – 5 pm and Wednesdays: 9 am – 8 pm. Admission to the Conservatory is free although they do ask for a suggested donation at the door, and during special events and exhibits. Free parking is located just south of the Conservatory’s main entrance in the visitor parking lot.
Please check the Events page for more detailed information. All events are subject to change.
All of the following events and activities are free:
- Introductory Tours Registration is first come, first serve starting at 9 am the day of the tour. A sign-up sheet will be located at the front desk for in-person sign-ups; they do not accept advance registration for these tours. The tour includes a 45-minute walk around the campus. Date of tours varies see schedule here.
- Ask a Master Gardener Every Saturday from 11 am-4 pm
Bring your gardening questions to a University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener. Volunteers are stationed at the main entrance lobby to help with your gardening questions.
- Morning Glories Monday’s 10 am-12 pm
Enjoy learning together with your child during this weekly drop-in session at the Elizabeth Morse Genius Children’s Garden. Activities are fun, interactive, and encourage children’s curiosity about the natural world. Children and their care-givers rotate to different stations around the Children’s Garden. Stations include planting projects, soil digging stations, tours, story-time, and more. Participation is free, but donations for material costs are appreciated.
- Wild Wednesday’s: Wednesday’s 4 pm–7pm
Whether inside or out, children will explore nature, get their hands dirty and discover new things about plants, animals and nature. In addition to a dig pit and spray bottles, there will be a wild animal guest several times a month.
- Fiddleheads: Saturday’s and Sunday’s 12 pm–4 pm
Each weekend they offer different projects that get kids and families wondering about the plants and the natural world in a different way, with activities changing weekly.
- Juicebox: Select Saturday’s 11 am-12 pm
A free series of cutting-edge performances, in Horticulture Hall. Juicebox is geared to toddlers but is engaging for the whole family. Get your kid’s creative “juices” flowing with this free music and performance series for the stroller set. Juicebox website.
- Play and Grow Garden is open: March 15 – November 15
The Garden is open daily 12:00PM-4:30PM weather permitting. Families with children ages 0-8 are invited to visit the garden during its open hours to build, imagine, and challenge themselves. Kids can experiment with pebbles, make mud pies, walk the stump obstacle course, or make music on a wooden xylophone. Play & Grow is outside: exit through Sugar from the Sun and turn right; it’s just past the labyrinth. Children should be supervised at all times in the Play & Grow Garden.
- Conservatory Scavenger Hunts
Pick up your scavenger hunt at the door and enhance your adventure at the Conservatory by using it to explore the different greenhouses and gardens throughout the Conservatory. Themes will vary throughout the year and include: Backyard Bingo (outside), Candyland, African American History, and more.
- Composters at Work: Saturdays, December through May Hours: 11:30 am – 12:30 pm. Drop in any time during the program hours for free tips, techniques, and useful information about composting at home. Our trained volunteer composters will be on hand to answer your questions about composting in the city, and they will have a working worm bin to discuss and explore.
- Beekeepers at Work resumes in late spring 2016. Curious about bees and beekeeping? Join us throughout the summer as our volunteers and Head Beekeeper demonstrate techniques with active beehives and explain their work. Demonstrations are for all ages and interest levels.
- Other Conservatory programs and information
The GPC also offers many reasonably prices classes in beekeeping, composting, and indoor composting ranging in price from $50 to $120. Here’s the course listing.
The Garfield Park Conservatory is one of the largest conservatories in the nation. When it opened in 1908 it was referred to as “landscape art under glass.” The conservatory occupies approximately 4.5 acres inside and out, where thousands of rare plant species are on display throughout eight indoor display rooms and vast outdoor gardens during the summer.
The Conservatory’s eight themed and multifaceted display houses are: Palm House, Fern Room, Sugar from the Sun, Elizabeth Morse Genius Children’s Garden, Aroid House, Desert House, Horticulture Hall and The Show House. The outdoor gardens include a city garden, a sensory garden, a labyrinth, lily pools and a demonstration garden.
Most recently, the Garfield Park Conservatory sustained catastrophic damage from a hail storm that swept through the area in June, 2011, shattering 60 percent of the facility’s glass roof. The public display houses most affected by the damage include the historic Fern Room, Show House, and Desert House, along with the all 10 production greenhouses. Reconstruction and repairs are complete and all rooms have reopened.