Spring is right around the corner - the spring season officially starts this Thursday! But for those who don't want to wait for the temperatures to rise and the flowers to bloom, here are three places where you can ditch your winter jacket and pretend spring has already sprung.
With eight show houses and 4.5 acres (inside and out), the Garfield Park Conservatory is one of the largest conservatories in the nation. The building is still recovering from hail damage from 2011 (on a recent trip, the Desert House was closed for repairs), but the bulk of the houses remain open for exploring. Bring a picnic lunch and find an empty table in the Horticultural Hall to relax. (Open 9am-5pm Thursday through Tuesday; 9am-8pm Wednesdays. Admission is free.)
Opened in 1895, the Lincoln Park Conservatory has been a tranquil escape for Chicagoans for well over a century. This conservatory is on the smaller side, with four display houses: the Palm House, Orchid House, Fern Room and Show House. Walk on manicured pathways through a canopy of ferns, pause for a moment in front of the koi pond, and take the time to take in all the variations at the Orchid House. You might even want to bring a book, grab a bench and stay awhile. (Open 9am-5pm daily. Admission is free.)
The Chicago Flower and Garden show kicked off this weekend, providing inspiration to the city's green thumbs and an oasis for winter-tired Chicagoans. There's a ton to explore, from tablescape inspirations to live chef demonstrations-but it's worth a trip just to get lost while strolling through the more than 25 gardens. The exhibition runs through Sunday, March 23. (Check out the official site for hours and pricing.)