Midwest Living Review
Refresh your chilled senses with the abundant plants and flowers at the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at Como Park. If you don't like greenery, that's OK: You're also just steps away from the Como Town amusement area and the Como Park Zoo. You'll find acres of foliage under the conservatory glass, arranged in breathtaking vistas that might convince you that the snow you shoveled this morning must have melted by now. It's hard to even guess at the total number of individual plants on display at the conservatory, but there are thousands of different plants represented, including 835 different orchid species and a seasonal display of 126 bonsai trees. If you're visiting near Christmas, be sure to take in the annual holiday flower show in the Sunken Gardens -- it presents a carnival of festive poinsettias (red, maroon, apricot), along with complementary seasonal plants. Shows aside, the conservatory, like a botanical Disneyland, breaks its offerings into themed areas. These include the Sunken Gardens, Palm Dome, North Gardens, Fern Room and the Tropical Encounters exhibit, all of which can be taken in with a one-hour stroll. Unexpected alcoves of color and glimpses of wildlife are around every turn (Tropical Encounters houses giant river turtles, free-roaming birds and a resident sloth), and the winding pathways serve to increase your feeling of discovery. Restorative, healing and free, the conservatory is more than a destination. It's good medicine for the winter cold. Open daily, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (April to September); 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (October to March). Entrance is free, although a donation of $2 for adults and $1 for children and seniors is suggested.