In Chicago sweets grow on trees & azaleas are already blooming

Winter is howling outside but spring has already come to Chicago's Garfield Park Conservatory

Winter is howling outside but spring has already come to Chicago's Garfield Park Conservatory

From snow to freezing temps, everything about the weather says winter but spring has already come inside  Chicago’s Garfield Park Conservatory.

Take a deep breath inside the gorgeous, historic conservatory.

For a few hours you have escaped from dry, icy air to room after room of balmy temps, tropical trees and pools.

Stroll down paths lined with azaleas. They moved into the Show House January 29, 1911 for the Conservatory’s annual Spring Flower Show. Hydrangeas take their place in April.

Come Saturday Feb. 5 or 12 to treat the taste sense. As you walk among different plants you come to tropical treat stations offering banana, chocolate, cinnamon and vanilla samples.

Taste treats of honey, chocolate and other plant sweets will be at stations in several Conservatory rooms

Taste treats of honey, chocolate and other plant sweets will be at stations in several Conservatory rooms

Be sure to stop at the Sugar of the Sun exhibit to taste maple syrup Feb. 5 and honey, Feb. 12.

Tip 1: Plan to spend half a day.

The Conservatory covers 2.5 acres of winding walkways through desert plants, past ferns, waterfalls, lagoons and a children’s garden.

Tip 2: Bring a camera.

The Aroid House features a pond filled with yellow lily pods by famed glass artist Dale Chihuly. Before heading back out into the cold, drop in to the Tropical Café in Horticultural Hall the first two Saturdays in February for comfort food and music, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Dale Chihuly lily pods find a secret pond in the Aroid room

Dale Chihuly lily pods find a secret pond in the Aroid room

Details: Hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Wednesday is open until 8 p.m.

Free parking and admission, but a $3 donation requested during special events.

Information at Garfield Park Conservatory or call 312-746-5100.

Garfield Park Conservatory, 300 N. Central Park Ave., Chicago, IL 60624,

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