Best respite from a Chicago winter

Garfield Park Conservatory

300 N. Central Park

This massive Jens Jensen structure, now just over 100 years old, is much more than an overgrown greenhouse. Jensen, the influential Danish-American landscape architect who served as a Chicago park commissioner at the turn of the 20th century, designed the main fern room to suggest the landscape of prehistoric Chicago, and another offshoot mimics the bluffs and waterfalls of the Starved Rock area. He modeled the billowing outer form on the profile of midwestern haystacks. Yet it's inside on a cold winter's day that the conservatory is at its best; no matter how hard the hawk is blowing off the lake, it's just an el ride away on the Green Line to reach the tropics. —Ted Cox