Stay warm: Indy’s Garfield Park Conservatory

Stay warm: Indy's Garfield Park Conservatory
Stay warm: Indy's Garfield Park Conservatory

Ah, Garfield Park Conservatory… Last year my husband and I moved to Indianapolis just as the weather was starting to get really chilly. (In fact, it was just about a year ago – wild!) We spent long hours wandering around all the different neighborhoods, but eventually we couldn’t feel our toes anymore.

Somewhere warm was in order.

After some internet searching, I came across Garfield Park Conservatory. The conservatory (of Indianapolis! – not to be confused by the place of the same name in Chicago!) is a 10000 square foot tropical oasis just south of downtown Indy.

The conservatory is located inside Indianapolis’ oldest city park – Garfield Park – which dates back to the 18th century. The site was originally slated to become a horse racing track, but the plan failed and the county sheriff seized the land. Soon after, the city bought the land for a public park.

The city beautified the park throughout the years, adding bridges, pagodas, and walking/driving paths for public use. The conservatory itself was also preserved, although not particularly well in some decades. Now, though, the conservatory is a truly amazing space that rivals much bigger cities!

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The conservatory is a 1954 building which underwent renovations in 1990 after serious neglect in the second half of the century. The space may not have the pristine majesty of larger gardens in more major cities, but the space is functional and allows the true stars – the plants – to flourish.

Garfield Park Conservatory includes an Amazon River rain forest, fruiting plants like pomegranates, bananas, and cocoa, and bonsai trees. Garfield Park Conservatory also has two ponds filled with koi fish as well as a small enclave of cages which contain different types of reptiles.

At just $2 per person, it’s hard to imagine a place that gives you a better bang for your buck on a frigidly cold day. Pack a lunch, bring some music, or haul along some art supplies and simply spend a few hours getting the feeling back in your fingers and toes. (And then buy a couple of plants that are usually on sale before you go!)

Located just a few miles south of downtown, a lazy wander through the conservatory should be a must-do on anybody’s list when it gets to be sweater weather!

2505 Conservatory Drive, open Monday through Saturday, 10AM-5PM and Sunday 1PM-5PM (website).

What’s your favorite place to escape to as the weather gets cooler? Share in the comments below!