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Garfield Park Conservatory
Ranked #23 of 662 things to do in Chicago
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Fee: No
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Reviewed July 15, 2012

I consulted TripAdvisor to answer my weekly "What should I do?" (see my Oriental Institute review) question. The conservatory sounded like a good bet, especially since it's easy to get to by train. What an experience!

I enjoyed everything. The Palm House is the first thing you'll encounter and it starts the visit off with a bang. From there, it's on to the Fern House, or wherever. The collection is immense and the building itself is "old school" stunning. I particularly liked the inscriptions and artwork interspersed among the plants. The outdoor exhibits are also nice, but seem to be a work in progress as you venture further from the building, unless that's intentional.

It's hard to say how much time to spend. I was there something over three hours, probably overlooking most of the collection. Even spent time feeding the fish in the Aroid House after an employee gave me fish food.

Probably stating the obvious, but it's very hot and humid in a greenhouse. The floor is sometimes wet and it is intentionally discontinuous in the Fern House. You need to be constantly aware of what's around, and particularly, behind you because some of it is very sharp and pointy. Even some ferns. Oh, and the roof leaks during hard rain. Not sure if that's due to temporary repairs from the hail damage, but there's potential to damage your camera, etc.

The neighborhood is OK during the day. I think.

1  Thank Cliffside_Mike
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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479 - 483 of 593 reviews

Reviewed July 4, 2012

I volunteered here and they run wonderful programs like face painting and sqaure dancing for a Fall event with bandanas and corn cowder. When I volunteered for Glenkirk, we also took program recipients here. It was fully accomodating and accessible for handicapped as well.

Thank bpandya31
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 9, 2012

The large conservatory is a pleasure to stroll through. The best room is the beautiful fern room, which includes a lagoon and waterfalls. It also has the friends of ferns (moss, liverworts, etc) which create a very natural setting. The palm room is nice, too. The Monet Garden (as depicted from his paintings) is pleasant.

Some reviewers criticized the neighborhood. First, for those who are afraid of anything but the Walmart, the Conservatory provides parking next to the building and someone from the Conservatory is standing at the lot. The El station is perhaps 300 yards south of the Conservatory. Let me also stick up for the locals. I made the mistake of getting off the El and walking to south, away from the Conservatory, for about three blocks into the park. I asked a local where the Conservatory was. On his own, he walked me to the Conservatory ( literally to the door) then turned around and walked back to where he came from. Very friendly!

1  Thank Foster32
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 7, 2012

The Conservatory is a wonderful experience. Built in 1908 it covers over 4 acres of displays. The neighborhood has changed in over 100 years. The Conservatory, however, is site specific so it can't get up and move. It sits today in the middle of a very unsafe neighborhood. Visit the Conservatory by all means but DON'T wander off the grounds.

2  Thank shallow_shoals
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 6, 2012

GPC is one place that most Chicagoans have never seen, which is a shame. This is a location that is filled with wonderful plants and flowers, and provides a wonderful and relaxing atmosphere that invites you to walk slowly and savor the beauty and the wonders of nature. The fern room can be a location to sit and let you problems fade away, even if for just a moment. The children's play area provides entertainment for the smaller kids. The Conservatory is also a nice location for family pictures, and I have seen a number of photographers shooting here. GPC is a great mid-winter spot; flowers and holiday displays all in a warm sky lit building. On a snowy day it can be quite special.

NOTES: Entry and parking are free; donations are gratefully accepted. One reviewer stated that the neighborhood is dangerous; while, as with many areas, there is some problems, just use common sense - don't leave valuables in you car, don't walk around in locations unfamiliar to you, etc.

Bottom Line: Take the opportunity to see this special place, stay and sit for a while, go on a snowy day - you will be glad you did.

Thank Bill R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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