Como Park Conservatory: Urban Jungle
Rain or shine, snow or heat, Como Park’s Marjorie McNeely Conservatory is a year-round urban jungle escape in St. Paul, MN.
The Conservatory’s main attraction is its sunken garden. Each season features a new flower show, with seasonal flowers like poinsettias, tulips, lilies, roses and chrysanthemums. The stone walkway around a center fountain circles the goldfish pond.
In the center of the Conservatory, the Palm dome features more than 150 palm trees beneath a 64-foot glass dome. The center fountain is a popular place to relax and enjoy the plants and flowers.
Across the Palm dome, the North Garden highlights plants that are used for food, medicine and building, like the papaya and fig, coffee, sugarcane, aloe and many others.
The Fern Room is a special retreat on a cool day. A gentle mist covers the more than 100 fern species in this garden, which features a waterfall and center pond.
The Conservatory is also home to the largest bonsai garden in the upper Midwest. The small Japanese-style trees are part garden and part art. The Bonsai garden isn’t the only Japanese influence though. Visit May through September to walk the Japanese Garden, designed as a gift from St. Paul’s sister city in Japan, Nagasaki.
Nearby in the visitor center, the recently opened Tropical Encounters exhibit features plants and animals from the Central and South American rainforests. Animals like turtles, frogs, fish and birds are found throughout the tropical exhibit.
The Conservatory first opened in November 1915 and became a destination for the city’s annual chrysanthemum exhibition. By 1925, annual holiday and spring follower shows were added – a tradition that continues today with four seasons of flower shows. The conservatory was renamed in 2002 after Marjorie McNeely, who supported local arts and cultural activities during her lifetime and contributed to the conservatory.
Today, the Conservatory continues to be the popular urban getaway it was designed to be 100 years ago, offering a year-round escape in the center of the Metro.
If You Go:
Como Zoo and Conservatory is open every day of the year, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. April through September, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. October through March. Admission is free, but a $2 per adult and $1 per child donation is suggested. Parking also is free, but can be hard to find in the summer! The park also offers shuttle service if you can’t find a nearby parking spot.
Como Park is easy to get to from any part of the city. From the North, take Hwy 36 to Lexington south, and from the south, take Hwy 94 to Lexington north. Or take Hwy 280 to Como Avenue.
While You’re There:
Don’t miss all the zoo has to offer. Free admission ($2 donation per person is suggested) allows you to see many animals a larger zoo would feature, like zebras and giraffes, penguins and seals, polar bears, lions and leopards, monkeys and many other animals. Como Park is a great spot for a walk or a picnic, and a great cross country ski location in the winter.
Find something new℠.