Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens – an oasis of warmth in the winter

While Chicago is still reeling under the winters and is fondly called as Chiberia 😉 I was craving for greenery and warmth! Our visit to Nicholas Conservatory and Gardens at Rockford Illinois came as an oasis of warmth and greenery on a cold winter’s day 🙂


This is the third largest conservatory in Illinois.It is home to an 11,000 square foot plant exhibit, mainly concentrating on tropical plants. The conservatory is approximately 1 hour 45 min drive from Chicago. The conservatory area is beautifully set up with walkways, water features, fishes and toy trains!! The conservatory is situated on the banks of Rock River making it a very picturesque location 🙂


The tickets to this conservatory can be purchased online or directly at the door. Since we had not really planned on visiting here, we purchased the tickets directly at the door. The prices differ for residents and non-residents, adults, senior citizens and children.



We particularly loved the fact that they have constructed this conservatory in such a fashion that you feel as if you are taking a trip through a tropical rain-forest. The paths inside are lined with pebbles, the trees are well maintained. Even in the extreme climate, it can be observed that the staff here has put in extra efforts to maintain the plants and trees here. The decor is a great blend of quirk and natural beauty 🙂

The Koi Pond

They have a delightful Koi Pond in the middle of the conservatory which is surrounded by plants like the papaya plant, banana plants, sugarcane, pineapple and the Palm Tree. Inside the pond there are bright fishes which literally clamber for your attention!!

The Infinity Pond

The Koi pond then extends to the Infinity Pond which has more trees around it like the Star Apple tree, the Puerto Rican Hat Palm, the Jack-fruit tree etc. The bright little fishes will follow you here too!!

There is small artificial stream runs through these ponds in the conservatory and to add on to the fun factor of this conservatory they have constructed toy train routes throughout the conservatory which are functional with different types of toy trains. These train routes are lined with mini houses and bridges which give you the illusion that you are indeed in a small beautiful tropical village!!

There are ample benches here for you to rest or simply sit and enjoy the beautiful surroundings of the observatory or click as many pictures as you like!!

Outside the conservatory is an Ice Skating Deck, and a number of different gardens. Unfortunately since we visited in the winters these gardens were closed.

The Conservatory holds a number of events regularly. When we visited they had just concluded with a model railroading workshop!! I would really recommend that you check their event calendar and visit them during one of these events to enjoy the conservatory and its gardens in their full glory!!

PS –  The conservatory floor tends to be slippery due to timely maintenance. Do remember to wear comfortable, preferably rubber soled shoes while visiting here. If you ask me, these are my favorite go-to all-rounder Shoes which have stayed with me in all climates and all types of trips 😉 

The conservatory is literally lined with delights at every corner…here is a glimpse of all the delightful things we came across –

There is Thomas the Engine model right at the entrance where the stream beings!

Don’t miss taking a picture at this Kaleidoscope

I would highly recommend you visiting the Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens for a wonderful experience in nature! After you visit the Conservatory and the gardens don’t forget to check out the river walk for a tranquil walk alongside the Rock River 🙂

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