Outside may still be cold, but an uplifting tropical escape awaits visitors at each of these destinations.
Orchids at Franklin Park Conservatory
Credit: Courtesy of Franklin Park Conservatory

An exotic lady slipper orchid or even a basic moth orchid are showstopping on their own, so imagine thousands of orchids dangling from chandeliers, spilling from green walls, hanging from trees and cascading from tunnels. With 150,000 varieties in the orchid family, there's no wonder the orchid-collecting craze has been going on since Victorian days. Check out the impressive collections at seven botanical gardens' orchid shows across the Midwest. (To ensure a safe and comfortable experience, many gardens have advance timed tickets, mask requirements and one-way routes through exhibits.)

Orchid show at Cleveland Botanic Gardens, Holden Forests & Gardens
Credit: Courtesy of Holden Forests & Gardens

1. Cleveland Botanical Garden – Cleveland, Ohio

At its 17th annual Orchids Forever flower show (January 28—March 12), the Cleveland Botanical Garden spotlights the color and uniqueness of orchids. Thousands of orchids fill galleries, hallways and glasshouses along with artistic renderings of large-scale orchid photo scans. Orchids, including some exotic varieties, will be available for purchase at the garden store.

Franklin Park Conservatory Orchids
Credit: Courtesy of Franklin Park Conservatory

2. Franklin Park Conservatory – Columbus, Ohio

The Orchids exhibition at Franklin Park Conservatory (January 21—March 12) features thousands of vibrant orchids blanketing the Dorothy M. Davis Showhouse, a historic Victorian-style glass greenhouse built in 1852. The show designers are arranging orchids in themed displays, creating a bright and uplifting tropical escape. Beyond the showhouse, explore the conservatory's diverse biomes where more orchids are displayed in containers among desert, alpine and tropical plant collections. The conservatory also offers classes such as Orchid Mounting, but the orchid-related ones are sold out for this year; plan early for 2024.

Untamed The Orchid Show 2022 Chicago Botanic Garden
Credit: Courtesy of Chicago Botanic Garden

3. Chicago Botanic Garden – Chicago

At Chicago Botanic Garden, The Orchid Show: Magnified (February 11— March 26) celebrates the unexpected verve of wild orchids with thousands on display in the greenhouse galleries of the Regenstein Building. This year's show invites visitors to explore the brighter side of winter through bold, beautiful orchids. Learn about orchids through the garden's photography classes, online orchid care classes, orchid-themed botanical art classes and online library of orchid info. 

Related: Top Things to Do in Chicago

Olbrich Botanical Gardens Orchids
Credit: Courtesy of Olbrich Botanical Gardens

4. Olbrich Botanical Gardens – Madison, Wisconsin

At Olbrich Botanical Gardens, travel to the tropics in the bountiful, beautiful Orchid Escape exhibit throughout the 10,000-square-foot Bolz Conservatory. Orchids have starred at this glass pyramid-shaped conservatory since its opening 30 years ago. This year's show (January 28—February 28) features orchids from Olbrich's permanent collection plus new orchids ordered especially for the show. On March 2, check out the post-show orchid sale, a fundraiser for the gardens. 

Winter Carnival Orchid Show, Como Park Conservatory
Credit: Courtesy of Como Park Conservatory

5. Marjorie McNeely Conservatory – St. Paul, Minnesota

At the Winter Carnival Orchid Show, January 28-29, hundreds of orchids transform Como Park's century-old conservatory into a tropical wonderland. Now in its 48th year, the show has become a premier winter event for orchid lovers throughout the Midwest. The conservatory works with Orchid Society of Minnesota to create the largest display of privately owned orchids in the region. Come see orchids in a tropical setting, learn about orchid care from Orchid Society of Minnesota members and shop all things orchids at the vendor fair. 

Orchids at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
Credit: Courtesy of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

6. Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park – Grand Rapids, Michigan

At the Meijer Gardens' orchid show, January 28-29, escape winter's chill and enjoy a stunning variety of colorful orchids exhibited by enthusiasts across Michigan. Also, shop show vendors for unique orchids, growing supplies and plenty of advice. 

Related: Top Midwest Arboretums and Botanical Gardens

Cymbidium tracyanum at Rinard Orchid Greenhouse
Credit: Courtesy of Rinard Orchid Greenhouse

7. Rinard Orchid Greenhouse – Muncie, Indiana

With over 2,000 orchids, Rinard Orchid Greenhouse at Ball State University boasts the country's largest collegiate orchid collection including some unusual beauties like this Cymbidium tracyanum. On February 11, learn about the biology and mythology of orchids during the Romance of Orchids event.

In 2022, the greenhouse doubled its size and gained a new environmental education center. It's open to the public Monday through Saturday, and hosts free events such as photography and pollinator workshops, a spring orchid sale and repotting demo.