We visited Mitchell Park Conservatory (The Domes) in Milwaukee this past weekend (http://county.milwaukee.gov/MitchellParkConserva10116.htm). It wasn’t a totally frugal outing for us because we are not local. We had the additional expense of gas and a meal eaten out. However, many cities have conservatories or public gardens that are wonderful thrifty destinations for family outings.
Our visit to the domes was perfect for this time of year because it was an indoor activity that felt like an outdoor activity. It was a sunny day so the temperatures inside the domes were perfect for giving the impression that we had escaped to somewhere warm and sunny! Mitchell Park Conservatory consists of three distinct domes linked by a large lobby. There is a tropical dome with water and some huge palms and other specimen trees. There were places to sit and the sound of water and the smell of tropical blooms and fruit. It felt good to sweat again! Click on the following link for a two minute tour: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ce4g2nSbC_s&feature=related.
Another of the three domes is a desert habitat. This dome was my favorite. I loved the architectural quality of all the plants. I liked all the textures and the alien feel of the place. It is totally different from anything I experience at any time of the year in the Midwest. I think that is the essence of any vacation or getaway—that feeling of being somewhere totally different from your ordinary life. The desert dome also was worth the modest entrance fee.
The third dome is used for changing seasonal displays. We were able to take in the a train show there while we were there ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfYH2EJSoBM&feature=related) . This dome is also set up for other programming, such as music and light shows (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqGaa24uUSY) . The train displays spilled out into the lobby. The setups were very fun and detailed. The more you looked, the more you would see. The Lego train layout inside the display dome was especially impressive, and it was only a quarter of its total size!
After visiting the domes, I had the feeling that I had been away for a weekend rather than a few hours. That feeling of compressed time is a sure sign that you’ve gotten the most from your time away from the ordinary. Begonia