There’s nothing my son enjoys more than getting some time outside to run around. We try to do it nearly everyday when the weather is nice. But Mother Nature doesn’t always cooperate, and particularly in the winter, we often find ourselves cooped up, day after day. So I’m always on the hunt for fun places for little ones that are indoors.
Look no further than the Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory in downtown Fort Wayne. Nestled among tall office buildings is a botanical garden that is almost entirely indoors. (There are also some lovely outdoor gardens that you should definitely see if you visit on a nice day.) Here you’ll find three main exhibit spaces.
- Showcase Garden–Flower Power Summer of Love exhibit: This temporary exhibit will be on display until November 13. It’s so much fun to see how the 1960s was recreated in plantlife. You’ll find row after row of colorful flowers, with a VW van and other surprises nestled in. There’s even a miniature version of Robert Indiana’s LOVE sculpture (the original of which is found on the grounds of the Indianapolis Museum of Art). After November 13, the Summer of Love exhibit will be replaced by a holiday display. Wouldn’t hundreds of pointsettias would make a great backdrop for Christmas family photos?
- Then you’ll find yourself warming up to the vibrancy of a rain forest in the Tropical Garden. My favorite aspect here was the enormous waterfalls that seemed to cascade all around us as we walked along the paths. You’ll also find beautiful and exotic orchids.
- The last large indoor space is the Desert Garden. I can totally picture myself camping out on a bench in this area in the dead of winter and pretending to soak up that desert air. The cactus varieties are astounding (totally 75 in all). Who needs to spend lots of money on a flight to Phoenix when you can visit this place?
While I love the variety of plantlife on display in the Botanical Conservatory, I was most impressed with the many activities and educational play areas for kids. My son had an absolute blast planting veggies in the play garden, talking to Woody the Talking Tree, and even paying for groceries at the produce stand. On Saturday, October 22, the Conservatory is hosting Pumpkin Zone from 12-5 p.m., where kids can learn all about pumpking goop, play pumpkin putt putt, and more pumpkin-related fun.
Visit Fort Wayne was kind enough to host my family for our visit, but I find the $5 adult admission fee extremely reasonable and family budget friendly. More information on admission and hours is available here.