Chicago Green Houses

Flora-filled activities at city spaces that bring the outdoors in.

We love the green theme that St. Patrick’s Day brings to March. Boost your own green gratification amid the flora-filled activities at city spaces that bring the outdoors in.

Desert House at Garfield Park
Desert House at Garfield Park Conservatory (Courtesy of the Chicago Park District)

Garfield Park Conservatory (300 N. Central Park Ave., 312.746.5100, Free, donations requested.

Kids dig into plant-focused projects every Saturday and Sunday starting at 11 am and Wednesdays from 4 to 7 pm through April in the Elizabeth Morse Genius Children’s Garden—they’ll want time for the slide too. On the second Saturday of each month (1-4 pm), learn the folds and creases of origami from the Chicago Area Origami Society. Bring your own paper, if possible.

Tip: There’s free parking here, but the conservatory is also easily accessible via the Green Line El, with a stop just a five-minute walk away.

Lincoln Park Conservatory (2391 N. Stockton Dr., 312.742.7736, Free.

Breathe in the scents and deliciously humid air in this greenhouse adjacent to the Lincoln Park Zoo. Through May 11, the Spring Flower Show beckons with its rainbow of colors and historic descendants of the Azaleas that wowed at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.

Tip: Families with antsy little ones should wander over to the zoo and let them climb up and crawl through the maze of elevated bridges inside the Children’s Zoo exhibit, where the frisky river otters really steal the show.

Notebaert Nature Museum (2430 N. Cannon Dr., 773.755.5100, For a dreamy sense of spring and summer too, shed those cold-weather coats and duck inside the tropical Judy Istock Butterfly Haven at this Lincoln Park kid-friendly favorite. Arrive at 2 pm daily for the butterfly release.

Tip: Wear bright colors if you want to attract a friendly flyer to land on you.