We were so sad when hailstorms this past July took a toll on our beloved Garfield Park Conservatory. For years, I have been taking my children to this stunning conservatory, designed by famed Chicago landscape architect Jen Jensen and opened to the public in 1908.  Often referred to as a "landscape under glass," the conservatory is home to plants from all around the world.  It is our tropical vacation within the city, and has given us lush respite from many a brutal Chicago winter.

I am happy to report that the conservatory is recovering from the hail damage and is still well worthy of a visit. We trekked on over recently and as usual, we enjoyed a lovely tropical "vacation." The Fern Room still managed to transport me back to dinosaur times. As always, my kids chased one another past the waterfalls and through the moss-covered passageways. The large Palm Room, with its towering trees and delicious flowery fragrance, brightened up the day.

For families, the Elizabeth Morse Genius Children's Garden is a must-visit. Kids can peer into and climb a giant seed, water the planet life, dig for dinosaur bones, or simply sit in a quiet, green corner and read a book from an extensive selection of children's books related to flora. The star of this garden within the conservatory is the slide: kids can climb up above the garden for a bird's-eye perspective and then slide down to the jungle-like main floor. If your kids are anything like mine, they'll do it again and again and again. The Garfield Park Conservatory is the key to curing cabin fever in our family!

Every Saturday and Sunday, the Garfield Park Conservatory also offers a free family fun activity. Drop in anytime, year round, between 1pm and 3pm,  and you'll have the chance to participate in hands-on activities that your little ones won't soon forget.

The Garfield Park Conservatory is located at 300 N. Central Park Ave., 10 minutes west of downtown Chicago, and can be easily reached via public transportation: Take the CTA Green Line to the new Conservatory-Central Park Drive Station.

For more information on fun family programming, upcoming events and more, visit garfield-conservatory.org