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As much as I love Wisconsin, I love to visit Chicago! Chicago is a city of parks and gardens, a mixture of old and new, community and city owned, but all of them are open to the public. When parts of the city were first established, there was a huge demand for public gardens and conservatories to be built, and many of these original gardens, parks and greenhouses still exist. Whatever part of the city you are planning to visit, there is a garden worth viewing. You can also choose the garden you want to visit based on what types of gardens you like or the different styles you want to see.
Check out these top public gardens in Chicago which will give you an all around look at the best the city has to offer.
Chicago Botanic Gardens
The Chicago Botanic Gardens are the city’s world class public garden, living museum and working science center. Chicagoans and tourists can enjoy an entire day outside filled with innovative gardens, antique and heirloom plant varieties, educational growing exhibits and fun, cultural beds. Twenty six gardens are spread out over just under 350 acres worth of land in the far north Chicagoland region. It is possible to reach the gardens via public transportation and while garden admission is free, there are parking fees that change with the season.
Lincoln Park Conservatory and Gardens
In the heart of Chicago lies the Lincoln Park Conservatory and Gardens, a glass building filled with exotic plants that were brought to Chicago in the early 1900s. The Conservatory was built to house and preserve the exotics for conservation purposes, but also because people loved spending times in gardens at all times of the year. A lot of the plants in the conservatory are rare plants, very delicate and have been there since the conservatory was opened. Entrance is free and self guided. There are some brochures that point out the more fascinating and interesting plants in the collection. In the summer extend your time to the nearby Lily Garden and manicured beds that scatter Lincoln Park.
The new Lurie Gardens were added in connection with Millennium Park and are a full five acres. This garden was created for four season use and recreation, displaying plants that are native to the State of Illinois, bring art and nature together and combine vertical urban gardening with sculptured walkways. Children love the gardens because they can interact and play in them, rather than strolling through something that is off limits to them. Nature lovers like seeing the new gardening ideas and principles that are being used, as well as the garden’s ability to attract birds and butterflies. The garden sits on the East corner of the park and it is open for anyone and everyone to enjoy year round.
Osaka Garden of Jackson Park
Tucked away into a corner of Jackson Park is another Chicago original, the Japanese Osaka Gardens, a gift to the city of Chicago during the Chicago World’s Fair. This is the best place to watch migratory birds head south and back north, because they use the lagoons the gardens reside in as a major resting spot. As for the gardens themselves, changes and improvements are always being made, but the beauty of the garden only improves with the season. Bridges, ponds, waterfalls and buildings are all done in the traditional manner, and on most days you can enjoy viewing the garden all on your own.