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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garfield-park-conservatory-indianapolis

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!
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Get the perfect Indy skyline picture from a parking garage!

Get the perfect Indy skyline picture from a parking garage!
Get the perfect Indy skyline picture from a parking garage!

A lot of mornings – when the sky is clear and the weather isn’t too extreme – you can find me snapping pictures from the top of a parking garage. (I’m also fervently praying I don’t drop my camera over the side of the building as I reach for the perfect shot. My camera, btw, is an super light Olympus Pen E-PL5* with a M.Zuiko 17mm f1.8 lens* which I find perfect for wide street shots!)

Yes, parking garages. Because I have an obsession with getting the perfect Indy skyline picture and I’m always looking for more locations that show off Indy’s concrete beauty.

So yeah, those tall, concrete squares known as parking garages are an unfortunate necessity of city life. But rather than bemoan their existence, embrace them! While making their way up to the top of a parking garage may not be everyone’s cup of tea, the views of downtown Indy’s skyline you can get from the top are truly memorable.

The best bit? You don’t even have to pay to park you car as you grab the perfect shot!

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DENISON PARKING GARAGE

What you can see: the Indiana State House, Illinois Street, various skyscrapers and apartment buildings, a peek of the Indiana War Memorial. 327 North Illinois Street ($10 daily)

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GOVERNMENT CENTER PARKING

What you can see: the Indiana State House and a clear view of the downtown Indianapolis skyline from the west. 220 North Senate Avenue (state employees only Monday through Friday 5-4PM but feel free to walk up without parking a car during that time)

World of Wonders Garage Indy

WORLD OF WONDERS GARAGE

What you can see: the Indianapolis Artsgarden, Circle Center Mall, Grand Union Station and the Amtrak station, Saint John the Evangelist Catholic Church. 100 South Illinois Street ($22 daily)

Virginia Avenue Parking Garage Indy

VIRGINIA AVENUE PARKING GARAGE

What you can see: the best shot of the downtown Indianapolis skyline from the south, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Eli Lilly complex. 155 South Delaware Street ($7 daily, Monday through Friday 6:30-8:30 but accessible on foot 24/7 – I think)

Pulliam Square Parking Garage

Pulliam Square Parking Garage

What you can see: the Indiana War Memorial, the Old National Center, various skyscrapers from a northern point of view. 350 North Delaware Street ($7 daily)

Spill – if you’re from Indy, where’s your favorite spot to get a shot of the skyline? If you’re not from Indy, where’s the weirdest spot you’ve gone to get the perfect picture?
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Make fall trips easier with a cranberry-chocolate travel bar

Make fall trips easier with a cranberry-chocolate travel bar

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BetterWithCraisins #CollectiveBias

MAKE YOUR NEXT TRIP EASIER WITH AN EASY TRAVEL BAR RECIPE

Early last week I woke up with the blankets pulled over my head, the cool air rushing in through the open window near my head too cold for my sleeping self to tolerate. While the cold morning might have made it just that much harder to get up, my inner cool-weather lover rejoiced: fall’s here!

In true Polly fashion, I decided the only way to celebrate the season change was with a mini-road trip to one of Indiana’s ubiquitous apple orchards and/or pumpkin patches. As with any road trip I take, I’m always sure to pack some serious snackage to make sure I don’t starve (or overspend).

Because this time I was only headed to a local apple orchard, I just made one snack: an easy cranberry-chocolate travel bar that’s easily packable and absolutely delicious.

Road Trip Snack Granola Bar Recipe

Road Trip Snack Granola Bar Recipe
I use a no-bake recipe with tons of Ocean Spray® Craisins® Dried Cranberries tossed in alongside as many local ingredients as possible. After all, how better to love local than to shop local?

I feel pretty decent in supporting Ocean Spray as well since it’s an agricultural cooperative made up of over 700 grower families who produce cranberries and grapefruit. That means it’s a company which tries to maximize the benefits for their growers – something I can definitely support, especially since there aren’t too many options for cranberries in Indy!

Easy Cranberry-Chocolate Travel Bar

1/4 C honey (mine was from Franklin, IN)
2 T unsalted butter
1/3 C brown sugar
2 C oats
1 1/2 C crispy rice cereal
1/2 C Craisins® Dried Cranberries*
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 C chocolate (sourced from The Best Chocolate in Town)
Optional: 1/2 cup chopped nuts

Line 8×8 baking pan with tin foil and oil lightly. Heat oven to 325F. Toast oats on lined baking sheet for 5-10 minutes; crisp, not burned! Let cool.

While cooling, melt butter, sugar, and honey in the microwave. Stir until brown sugar is dissolved. Add in oats, crispy rice, cranberries, and salt. Stir until the ingredients are well-mixed then pour into the baking pan. With a spatula, smoosh it down firmly so that the mixture is tightly packed in the pan. Finally, crush the chocolate and sprinkle over the top of the bars, once again pressing the bar down firmly. (If you’ve done everything quickly enough, the chocolate should melt a bit!).

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imag0109Let bars sit in the fridge for about two hours, then remove, cut into bars, and get exploring!

*NB: Ocean Spray® Craisins® Dried Cranberries may have recently been disappearing from Sam’s Club, but you can still find them all over the place! I grabbed a bag at my nearby Kroger.

Like I said, I took a mini-road trip to a local apple orchard (Adrian Orchard) to celebrate the season. I enjoyed my cranberry-chocolate travel bars while wandering through the pumpkin patch with some hot cider. You just can’t get much more fall than that!

If you’re local to Indianapolis, here are some nearby ideas perfect for celebrating the advent of fall:

  • Tuttle Orchards: apple picking, pumpkin patch, corn maze, hayrides, and more! (5717 N 300 W, Greenfield, IN)
  • StoneyCreek Farm: hayrides, pumpkin patch, farm animals, zipline, plenty of activities for kids (11366 Indiana 38, Noblesville, IN)
  • Conner Prairie: drive up for the Headless Horseman hayride, going on throughout October (13400 Allisonville Rd, Fishers, IN)
  • Adrian Orchard: Keen to stay close to Indianapolis? Just south of downtown is this mini-orchard, pumpkin patch, and store full of fall goodies (500 W Epler Ave)
  • Piney Acres Farm: Grab pumpkins, take a hayride, sample the snack bar, and much more. Then – later in the year – you can go back for a Christmas tree! (1115 E. 1000 N. Fortville, IN)

Road Trip Snack Granola Bar Recipe

Go find a bag of delicious cranberries at your closest retailer and try this recipe. Tell me: where are you going with your easy cranberry-chocolate travel bars?