Built in 1907, these 4.5 acres under glass are the Park District’s pride and joy. Designer Jens Jensen intended for the palms, ferns and other plants to recreate Chicago’s prehistoric landscape. Today the effect continues – all that’s missing is a rampaging stegosaurus. Newer halls contain displays of seasonal plants that are especially spectacular in the weeks before Easter.

Kids can get dirty with roots and seeds in the indoor Children’s Garden. Between May and October the outdoor grounds are open, including the Demonstration Garden, which shows urbanites how to grow veggies, keep bees and compost in city plots; and the Monet Garden, which adapts the Impressionist painter’s colorful garden at Giverny, France. If you drive, lock up: the neighborhood isn’t the safest.