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5 CHICAGO WINTER GARDENS TO ADD TO YOUR VISIT LIST

Escape from the chill of winter at one of Chicago's lush (and warm) winter gardens.

Tropical gardens may not be the first thing that come to mind when you think winter in Chicago. But the city is home to several conservatories and winter gardens that offer oases of green on a snowy day. Here are five that will warm your heart (not to mention your frost-nipped toes!).

LINCOLN PARK CONSERVATORY

Lincoln Park Conservatory

Built in the late 1800s and dubbed a “paradise under glass,” the Lincoln Park Conservatory is made up of four display houses: the Palm House, Fern Room, Orchid House and Show House, which hosts annual flower shows. Tropical any time of year, the free Lincoln Park Conservatory is the perfect place to warm up while wandering among the towering palms, ancient ferns and exotic flowers. During the Holiday Flower Show from late November through early January, the Lincoln Park Conservatory becomes a winter wonderland filled with colorful poinsettias, sparkling trees and model trains that wind through the plantings.

GARFIELD PARK CONSERVATORY

Garfield Park Conservatory Chicago

Spanning two indoor acres, the Garfield Park Conservatory is one of the largest conservatories in the nation, designed by legendary landscape architect Jens Jensen. Thousands of plant species are on display throughout eight distinctive rooms. The Conservatory’s Fern Room features rocky outcroppings and an indoor lagoon meant to replicate the swampy landscape of prehistoric Chicago. Visit the Aroid House and marvel at artist Dale Chihuly’s 16 glass-blown yellow lily pads displayed in the Persian Pool. In February, the Garfield Park Conservatory celebrates the Chinese New Year complete with dragons and fun family activities.

CHICAGO BOTANIC GARDEN

Chicago Botanic Garden

Located in the North Shore suburb of Glencoe, the Chicago Botanic Garden features 27 different environments on 385 sprawling acres. You’ll want to bundle up and spend the afternoon strolling among perfectly manicured gardens, including the formal English Walled Garden made up of six unique garden rooms, the lakeside Japanese Garden that features three islands, and the Waterfall Garden, which boasts a 45-foot-tall waterfall that dramatically cascades down a hillside. Warm up in The Greenhouses, where you’ll find fragrant flowering plants and the popular annual Orchid Show, held in every February.

CRYSTAL GARDENS AT NAVY PIER

Crystal Gardens

The magical Crystal Gardens is a one-acre indoor botanical garden located at Navy Pier. The six-story glass atrium features a 50-foot arched ceiling, affording awesome views of the lakefront, Chicago skyline and the Centennial Wheel. Sit back and relax in this second-level oasis and take in more than 80 live palm trees, lush foliage, leaping fountains (which kids love) and twinkling lights.

WINTER GARDEN AT HAROLD WASHINGTON LIBRARY CENTER

Winter Garden at ©Harold Washington Library Center

The stunning Harold Washington Library Center in the Loop is the central library for the Chicago Public Library System. Grab a book from the library’s extensive collection and head up to the 9th-floor Winter Garden, nestled under the glass roof that is an architectural focal point of the building. The Winter Garden offers abundant natural light all year round, and features leafy plants and trees surrounding the marble-floored atrium. And if you’re looking for a quiet spot to get some work done, there’s free WiFi (and covered drinks like coffee are allowed).

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